Formula One has announced a major sponsorship deal with Saudi Aramco, raising the prospect of a Saudi Arabia Grand Prix in future.
During the long-term deal, F1 and the state-owned Saudi oil company hope to “combine their considerable shared expertise to identify opportunities for the advancement of sustainable fuels, enhanced engine efficiencies and emerging mobility technology”.
A deal with Aramco seems at odds with F1’s recent environmental pledges and its bid to go carbon neutral by 2030. A recent report by the Guardian newspaper found Aramco and its products have contributed 59.26 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere since 1965, which equates to 4.38 percent of the planet’s global total in that period.
This year’s U.S. Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas will be sponsored by Saudi oil giants Aramco. Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
A new F1-standard race track is being built outside Riyadh and could host a race as early as 2023. The track has been designed by former F1 driver Alex Wurz and would become the third F1 race track in the Middle East, alongside Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, if it is given the go ahead.
The addition of a race in the oil-rich kingdom would likely draw criticism due to the country’s poor human rights record.
Aramco is F1’s sixth title sponsor, alongside DHL, Emirates, Heineken, Pirelli and Rolex, and will be given title sponsorship of 2020 races in Spain, Hungary and the U.S.