Saudi Arabia is set to make its debut on the Formula 1 calendar next year.
A race on a street circuit in Jeddah is the penultimate event on a draft calendar that has been shown to teams.
Jeddah will hold the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix while a new purpose-built track at Qiddiyah is completed, which is scheduled to be in 2023.
It is one of 22 races on a provisional 2021 schedule as F1 plans to return to a calendar as close to normal as possible after this year’s disruption.
F1 is expecting criticism of the decision to race in Saudi Arabia because of the country’s record on human rights.
Critics argue Saudi Arabia is attempting to ‘sportswash’ its reputation – using major events to distract from its actions in other spheres.
It is not the first international sport to hold an event in the country – golf, tennis and boxing have all held competitions in Saudi, and the all-electric Formula E racing series has had the country on its calendar since 2018.
The first 10 races of the 2020 season were either postponed or cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The season starts in Melbourne, Australia in mid-March and then goes to Bahrain and includes nearly all the races that had been due to be held this year.
That means a return for long-established races such as China, Japan and Canada, which had to be cancelled because of the disruptions to international travel caused by Covid-19, as well as the debut of the Vietnamese Grand Prix.
F1 has been in conversations with the relevant national governments and all are said to be in agreement the races can take place, as things stand.
The Dutch Grand Prix, which had been due to return to the schedule for the first time since 1985 in April this year, is expected to be moved to the late summer and could be twinned with the Belgian race at Spa.
The big omission from a standard calendar is Brazil, where F1 is in dispute with the promoter at Sao Paulo’s Interlagos track, which has held the race since 1990, and a new track planned in Rio de Janeiro is not ready and mired in controversy over environmental disruption.
If Brazil makes it on to the calendar in 2021, that will take the number of races to 23.