The first Formula One auto race in the Arabian Gulf that is sponsored by Saudi Arabia’s energy giant Aramco is set to take place in Manama, Bahrain on Sunday.
Seven-times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton set himself up to tick off yet another milestone in a record-breaking year, after he won pole position for the Grand Prix on Saturday.
Aramco, the world’s most valuable company, announced the partnership in March, which is the company’s first global partnership with a major sporting event.
“F1 has a massive fan base of more than 500 million and a television audience of 1.9 billion, and Aramco’s sponsorship provides a unique opportunity to raise the brand profile of the company to new markets and customers and grow familiarity with our business,” the company said in a statement to Al Arabiya English.
The race in Bahrain is this year’s F1 season’s penultimate one, with the finale set to take place in Abu Dhabi, UAE in mid-December.
Following his pole performance on Saturday, Hamilton was non-committal about the prospect of becoming the first Formula One driver to chalk up a triple-digit pole position count.
“I really haven’t even thought that far,” he told reporters.
"It’s been already such an incredible year. Anything from now is just an added bonus. It’s not something I’m thinking about … I’ll get there eventually but it's not necessary that it’s in the next two, but I’ll be pushing as hard as I can, that’s for sure,” he added.
This year has been a blockbuster for Hamilton, having surpassed Michael Schumacher’s record haul of 91 career wins at last month’s Portuguese Grand Prix.
Saudi Aramco’s sponsorship agreement has seen the company’s branding featured trackside on events throughout 2020. Aramco has also been the title sponsor for several races throughout the season, the sixth such sponsor.
“We are excited to partner with Formula 1, a strong global sports brand with millions of fans around the world. As the world’s largest energy supplier and an innovation leader, we have the ambition to find game-changing solutions for better-performing engines and cleaner energy. Partnerships like these are important to help us to deliver on our ambitions,” Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said at the time of the announcement.
The F1 season this year was significantly delayed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, starting in July, the latest a season has ever started in a year.
Some races were cancelled altogether as a result of the pandemic, including events in Australia, Azerbaijan, and Monaco, among others.