Formula One has showcased images from the newly-built Jeddah street circuit which will host the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – but human rights campaigners have slammed the decision to hold the race in the region.
The debate has once again roared into the media after countless fans hit out at the partnership between Formula One and Saudi Arabia.
Their ire centered on the newly-revealed images and videos of the speedy new circuit on which drivers are expected to have an average speed of more than 155 miles-per-hour.
The circuit, which features an incredible 27 high-speed corners on each 3.8 mile lap, is set to host the penultimate race of the 2021 campaign.
Located around 10 miles outside of the city center in Corniche, the circuit has three DRS (drag reduction system) zones which will allow for more overtaking options in the ultra-fast race – all with the Red Sea as its backdrop.
“The design brings out the best of a modern street circuit but also has fast-paced, free-flowing areas that will create fast speeds and overtaking opportunities,” said Formula One managing director Ross Brawn.
“The setting is incredible, on the Red Sea, and we can’t wait to see the cars on the track in December.”
Not everyone shares Brawn’s enthusiasm.
There are more rights in that track than the woman have in that country…
— Miguel Ruiz⚡ (@M_Ruiz73) March 18, 2021
Mmmmm… you can almost taste the oppression.Can only wonder what they’d do if F1 had a female driver at the moment.
— adam connor lewis (@adamconnorlewis) March 18, 2021
Why is F1 running in countries where slavery is still practised and women are 2nd class citizens?
— Andy on the Coast (@andyhunne) March 18, 2021
“There are more rights on that track than women have in that country,” one F1 fan chimed in online.
Another wrote that “you can almost taste the oppression” from the clip, while a critic questioned why Formula One is “running in countries where slavery is still practised and women are second-class citizens.”
Saudi Arabia has been a frequent target for detractor over what they describe as “sports-washing” – the use of sports as a means to rehabilitate the reputation of a country engaged in human rights abuses.
The country hosted the December 2019 world heavyweight title boxing rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz, and is thought to be a potential candidate for the mooted unification fight between Joshua and Tyson Fury.
It has also hosted sporting events such as the Spanish Super Cup Final, the Saudi International European Tour golf event and the WWE’s ‘Crown Jewel’ pay-per-view event, among many others.
Amnesty International were among those to furiously hit out at the decision to allow Saudi Arabia to host a Grand Prix, calling the country’s human rights record “abysmal“.
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“A Saudi Grand Prix in 2021 is just part of extensive ongoing efforts by the Saudi authorities to sports-wash their abysmal human rights record,” Felix Jakens, Amnesty International UK’s head of campaigns, said last year.
“With critics of the government either jailed, exiled or hounded into silence, the Saudi authorities have pursued a twin-track approach of crushing human rights while throwing large amounts of money at glittering sporting events.
“It isn’t just motor racing – it’s golf, boxing, tennis, horse racing and, of course, the attempt to buy Newcastle United Football Club.”
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