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British Consulate celebrates with grandeur Saudi Arabia's debut hosting of Formula 1 Grand Prix
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 02 - 12 - 2021

Saudi Gazette
JEDDAH — The British Consulate General celebrated the inaugural Formula 1 STC Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2021 with hosting a grand reception featuring grandeur and elegance at its premises on Wednesday evening. The reception was held on the occasion of Saudi Arabia's first ever hosting of the Formula 1 Grand Prix, which will kick off on Friday evening with the world's best drivers set to race around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. The 6.1 km long challenging and demanding street circuit is tipped as the longest and fastest ever street circuit in the 71-year-long history of Formula 1. All eyes of around half a billion fans of motor sporting from around the world would be on Jeddah this weekend to watch the fantastic showcase of the spectacular events of the World Drivers' Championship.
The UK is not only home to the reigning world Formula 1 Champion Lewis Hamilton, but also the majority of teams' headquarters. Seven out of 10 Formula 1 teams and around 80 percent of the world's motorsport engineers are from UK. The first Formula 1 world championship race took place at Silverstone in UK in 1950. Jeddah's hosting of Formula 1 is set to further consolidate UK's phenomenal record in the world's burgeoning motorsport industry apart from further bolstering Saudi – UK ties in this sector.
Those who attended the Consulate event, co-hosted by the Saudi Motorsport Company, included Prince Khaled Bin Sultan Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF) and Saudi Motorsport Company, British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Neil Crompton, British Consul General Seif Usher, Saudi Motorsport Company CEO Martin Whitaker, and Saudi Arabia's first female professional racing driver Reema Juffali. Several government officials, prominent cultural figures, and business leaders, especially those in the automobile industry also attended the event. Ambassador Crompton and Reema Juffali jointly cut a cake to mark the celebration.
Speaking on the occasion, British Ambassador Crompton described the debut of Formula 1 as another important first for Saudi Arabia. "With seven out of the 10 Formula 1 teams based in the UK, the event will showcase British innovation and manufacturing excellence on the amazing new Jeddah Corniche Circuit – another great example of the strong collaboration between our two countries. I am delighted to celebrate it here in Jeddah tonight and look forward to watching the race with our Saudi hosts and friends," he said while emphasizing that Formula 1 is an industry with deep roots in the United Kingdom.
Crompton said that UK companies are at the forefront of the motorsport industry's rapid technological innovation. "Increasingly, the technology used in this sector is filtering down into the wider automotive sector, and other industries such as health and infrastructure. At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, British F1 teams formed 'Project Pitlane' to utilize the industry's manufacturing expertise to support the development of new COVID-19 respiratory devices," he added.
In his speech, Consul General Usher said that this is a hugely exciting time for everyone in Saudi Arabia, as millions of global viewers turning on to watch the race on Sunday evening. He underscored that Formula 1 encapsulates so much of what the Saudi Vision 2030 is seeking to achieve, bringing world-class technology and creativity to the Kingdom, and boosting efforts to expand the tourism sector in Saudi Arabia. "The new Saudi Motorsport Company, led by CEO Martin Whitaker, is doing an amazing job to develop the motorsport industry in the Kingdom," he said while citing the example of building on the successful Saudi/UK partnership of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the famous F1 racing team McLaren.
On his part, Whitaker said that Formula 1 has found a wonderful new home in Saudi Arabia. "It is a real thrill to be here tonight to celebrate the fusion of two cultures with such a passion for all things motorsports. On the eve of the first ever Formula 1 race in Saudi Arabia, it gives me an immense feeling of pride and satisfaction to witness the best of British and Saudi innovation and industry come together to celebrate this remarkable milestone in the Kingdom's history." He noted that Formula 1's deep ties to the UK are well known and form the backbone of this sport. The people of Saudi Arabia have so passionately embraced the pinnacle of motorsport, he said while looking forward to many more years of fruitful cooperation between both the countries.
Guests at the reception were treated to a display of some of the best of British engineering and motorsport. A highlight at the reception was the legendary Saudi Arabian Airlines-sponsored 1980 FW07 Williams Formula 1 racing car, reflecting Saudi Arabia's long relationship with Formula 1. This classic car will be driven each day of the race weekend on the brand-new Jeddah Corniche Circuit alongside the Aston Martin safety vehicles that will also feature the race.

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