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Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Drivers to meet with Formula 1 bosses over concerns from weekend’s race

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix went ahead as planned despite a rocket attack, claimed by Houthi rebels, on an oil facility less than 10 miles from the circuit during Friday’s opening practice session

Last Updated: 28/03/22 1:27pm


The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix went ahead despite a rocket attack on a nearby oil facility

Formula 1’s drivers are set to meet with race bosses following the concerns which arose from the weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The race went ahead in the shadow of the rocket attack, claimed by Houthi rebels, on an oil facility less than 10 miles from the Jeddah circuit during Friday’s practice session.

A four-hour meeting of the drivers on Friday night to discuss events eventually led to the Grand Prix continuing as planned, although several drivers expressed their reluctance about going ahead in those circumstances.

Formula 1’s organisers have assured divers there will be further detail presented to them about what happened, promising they would not just move on to the next race without examining the events in Jeddah in more detail.

The sport’s chief executive Stefano Domenicali and technical director Ross Brawn, plus the team principals of the sport’s constructors attended to speak with the drivers at different points throughout the lengthy Friday meeting too.

However, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff insisted neither he nor his colleagues had attempted to pressure the drivers into racing when they spoke at the meeting.

“There wasn’t any arm-twisting from our side, there were good discussions,” Wolff said following the race, which was won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen after a thrilling duel with Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.

Karun Chandhok believes talks over driver safety must happen soon, after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix went ahead despite an oil depot attack near the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

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Karun Chandhok believes talks over driver safety must happen soon, after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix went ahead despite an oil depot attack near the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Karun Chandhok believes talks over driver safety must happen soon, after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix went ahead despite an oil depot attack near the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

“When the team principals talked to the drivers, I think what we talked was sense and not at all any pressure, but maybe that was perceived in a different way.

“In the end, the show and the spectacle were amazing and what we delivered as a sport was great and this is what sport should do.”

Should Formula 1 be in Saudi Arabia?

The inclusion of Saudi Arabia on the Formula 1 calendar has been controversial since it first appeared ahead of the 2021 season due to the country’s record on human rights.

Friday’s rocket attack heightened concerns over the safety of the event too and although the rest of the Grand Prix passed off without incident, there are still questions the drivers want answering.

Stefano Domenicali says that F1 being in Saudi Arabia is having a positive impact but that you can't change cultures in the blink of an eye.

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Stefano Domenicali says that F1 being in Saudi Arabia is having a positive impact but that you can’t change cultures in the blink of an eye.

Stefano Domenicali says that F1 being in Saudi Arabia is having a positive impact but that you can’t change cultures in the blink of an eye.

“We had a lot of guarantees that of course, we would be safe, but I think after this weekend, all the drivers also together, we will speak with F1 and of course also the team bosses to see what’s happening for the future,” race-winner Verstappen said.

That was a view echoed by the reigning world champion’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.

“I think there’s definitely some considerations that we will have to do as a group and see what’s best for the sport going forwards,” Perez said.

Runner-up Leclerc and Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr, who finished third, both believe further discussions between the drivers and Formula 1’s bosses are needed too.

Highlights of the second race of the 2022 season from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia.

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Highlights of the second race of the 2022 season from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia.

Highlights of the second race of the 2022 season from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia.

“It’s definitely a discussion that we should have after this race,” Leclerc said. “Once everything calms down and we’ll look back at it, and then we’ll see.”

Sainz added: “I think there will need to be discussions after this race, because clearly what has happened in the last 24 hours is definitely a point of discussion and considerations that we need to take going into the future.”

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