2024 Formula 1 season opener moved to Saudi Arabia
- The shift in 2024 has been made to avoid the race weekend clashing with the holy month of Ramadan in Saudi Arabia.
The 2024 Formula 1 season will kick-off with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as part of a calendar rejig. While the Australia GP would begin the F1 season on the calendar for years now, the pandemic forced a change in the order from 2020. However, the shift in 2024 is being made to avoid the race weekend clashing with the holy month of Ramadan in the Arab country.
The update emerged after the Australian government announced that the Australian GP had been signed for a two-year extension to the contract with F1, which would keep the championship at the land down under until 2037.
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A statement from the announcement read, “Part of the deal will see Melbourne host the first race of the Formula 1 season for at least four years between 2023 and 2037, with Saudi Arabia to host the first race of the 2024 Formula 1 season out of respect for Ramadan."
Saudi Arabia joined the F1 calendar towards the end of 2021 and was slotted as the second race on the calendar in 2022 right after the Bahrain GP. The country has signed a 10-year deal with F1 and also plans to move from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit to the new-build city of Qiddiyah in the future.
While it’s unclear as to when the future races will be held at Qiddiyah, we do know that the 2024 F1 season opener will begin by early March. Considering Ramadan begins on March 10 in 2024, this leaves the March 1-3 weekend to host the race. Previously, Australia was set to return as the season opener in 2024 only for the Saudi Arabia GP promoters to request the change. Australia has been on the calendar since 1996 with the exception of 2006, 2010, 2020 and 2021. The last two years were a direct result of pandemic related issues right from increased cases to logistical challenges.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Arabia GP and Bahrain GP are set to take place between March 22 and March 21 in 2023. This will ensure that both races are wrapped before Ramadan begins next year.