26 March 2022

Saudi Arabian GP to go ahead after F1 gets ‘detailed assurances’ event is safe

26 March 2022

Formula One has confirmed the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will go ahead despite Friday’s missile attack 12 miles from the Jeddah Circuit.

A nearby fuel depot was attacked as drivers took part in Friday’s first practice session, with black smoke billowing across the circuit.

In a joint statement on Saturday morning, F1 and its governing body, the FIA, said they have been provided “full and detailed assurances that the event is secure”.

A statement released ahead of qualifying on Saturday read: “Formula One and the FIA can confirm that following discussions with all the teams and drivers, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will continue as scheduled.

“Following the widely reported incident that took place in Jeddah on Friday, there has been extensive discussion between all stakeholders, the Saudi government authorities and security agencies who have given full and detailed assurances that the event is secure.

“It has been agreed with all stakeholders to maintain a clear and open dialogue throughout the event and for the future.”

Lewis Hamilton and his fellow drivers met for nearly four hours in the Jeddah paddock on Friday night, and into the early hours of Saturday morning.

Drivers hade a late night in Jeddah (Hassan Ammar/AP) (AP)

And by the end of the crisis summit, it is understood that the drivers were united in not wanting to race.

But the second round of the new season now looks set to continue, albeit overshadowed by Friday’s attack, with qualifying due to take place at 8pm local time (5pm UK).

A statement from the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association read: “Yesterday was a difficult day for Formula One and a stressful day for us Formula One drivers.

“Perhaps it is hard to comprehend if you have never driven an F1 car on this fast and challenging Jeddah track, but on seeing the smoke from the incident it was difficult to remain a fully focused race driver and erase natural human concerns.

“Consequently we went into long discussions between ourselves, with our team principals, and with the most senior people who run our sport.

“A large variety of opinions were shared and debated and, having listened not only to the Formula One powers but also to the Saudi government ministers who explained how security measures were being elevated to the maximum, the outcome was a resolution that we would practice and qualify today and race tomorrow.

“We therefore hope that the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will be remembered as a good race rather than for the incident that took place yesterday.”

The al-Masirah satellite news channel run by Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed they had attacked an Aramco facility in Jeddah. The same fuel depot, 12 miles to the east of the track, was attacked last Sunday.

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