Saudi Arabia appears set to host the opening race of the 2024 Components 1 season, in a change from earlier plans for it to be held in Australia.
The information emerged in a press release from the Victorian state authorities asserting a two-year contract extension for the Australian Grand Prix till 2037.
The assertion mentioned Melbourne’s Albert Park observe would host the opening race a minimum of 4 occasions through the contract time period, however Saudi Arabia would achieve this in 2024 “out of respect for Ramadan”.
Bahrain, which borders Saudi Arabia, has turn into the default opening race of the season because the pandemic disrupted the form of the calendar in 2020. It held its race on 20 March this yr.
However Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, is because of begin on 11 March in 2024, versus 2 April this yr.
Consequently, F1 had been planning to maneuver the beginning of the season again to Melbourne, which had been the standard opening occasion pre-Covid.
F1 was unable to substantiate that Saudi Arabia would begin the 2024 season.
It mentioned in a press release: “Components 1 has not launched any particulars of future calendars. The 2024 calendar will likely be confirmed within the normal means later within the yr.”
Nonetheless, BBC Sport has been advised that, whereas F1 chairman Stefano Domenicali remains to be working by means of plans for the primary a part of the 2024 season, the Saudi occasion on the Jeddah road circuit is on track to be the opening race.
No rationalization for the change from the unique plan to carry it in Australia has been supplied.
Neither is it clear why, whether it is potential to carry a grand prix within the Center East to begin the season earlier than Ramadan in 2024, it might be in Saudi Arabia and never Bahrain.
There will likely be hypothesis that Saudi Arabia – which already pays one of many largest internet hosting charges for its occasion – has paid an extra charge to safe the status of internet hosting the primary race. However a supply near the state of affairs insisted that was not the case.
Earlier this yr Saudi Arabia rejected F1’s proposal to host a ‘dash’ occasion in 2023 as a result of organisers baulked on the more money concerned.