F1 to Saudi Arabia in 2021 (2nd Update)
|Saudi Arabia is just a money grab by F1|
UPDATE (GMM) A Qatari broadcaster has slammed Formula 1 for contemplating a grand prix in Saudi Arabia.
This week, it emerged that Liberty Media is in talks with the powerful Kingdom for what would be a race on a novel street circuit. One rendering depicts the F1 cars racing underneath a clear-bottomed swimming pool.
The Saudi talks were already controversial given the state's human rights record, but now they are also under fire by Qatar broadcaster BeIN Media Group.
F1 is currently shown on TV in the region by MBC Group, a Saudi broadcaster, but only after BeIN pulled out after claiming its feed was being pirated by a company called BeoutQ.
"For F1 to then reward the perpetrators is a curious move," a spokesman for BeIN told us.
The spokesman explained that other sports bodies, including Fifa, the Premier League, Wimbledon and others, have slammed "Saudi Arabia's rampant theft of sports rights" in the past few weeks.
And yet "Formula 1 continues to turn a blind eye," he added.
"Most sports organizations are trying to do something about this epidemic; Formula 1 is only encouraging it," said the BeIN spokesman.
|Claire Williams crying over prospect of 24 or 25 races|
08/06/19 (GMM) Liberty Media is in talks with Saudi Arabia about a grand prix in the controversial Kingdom for 2021.
London's Times newspaper reveals that talks between Saudi officials and F1's owner have taken place "several" times.
Correspondent Rebecca Clancy also said the "teams have been asked for their views" about racing in Saudi Arabia, which is often accused of human rights violations.
But the expansion of the currently 21-race calendar to 22 races next year and then even more in 2021 and beyond will also be controversial.
"If you look at 2021, at the moment we are discussing for 24 races," said Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto.
Claire Williams confirmed: "We are incredibly worried about the prospect of having 24, 25 races on the calendar.
"Asking the people who work for us to travel as much as that is a huge undertaking," she said.
"Bringing new parts to 21 races is hard work, bringing new parts to 25 is going to bring even more pressure on our businesses, so that for me is a huge concern."
|Chase Carey eyes Saudi Arabia for 2021|
08/05/19 F1 is reportedly in talks to hold a race in Saudi Arabia, but will only do so under "strict conditions."
There have been "several talks held between the two parties" and teams have been asked for their views on racing in the country.
Liberty Media is "eager" to grow its audience in the Middle East and sees it as a "key market."
The list of concerns about racing in Saudi Arabia will include "human rights, rights for women and press freedoms."
That includes requesting every woman involved in F1, "at every level, from engineers to media to hospitality, would have the same rights as their male colleagues," with no restrictions.
Saudi Arabia would likely pay "tens of millions of dollars to host a race if it was to go ahead," which could be as soon as the '21 season. LONDON TIMES