Drivers dig in despite teams agreeing to continue in Saudi Arabia

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Drivers dig in despite teams agreeing to continue in Saudi Arabia

Formula 1

Drivers dig in despite teams agreeing to continue in Saudi Arabia


The Formula 1 drivers have refused to agree to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix going ahead despite team bosses pledging to continue as planned despite a nearby rebel attack.

An Aramco oil depot near the Jeddah Corniche Circuit was targeted for the second time in six days, leading to a massive fire within 10 miles of the track during FP1. Yemeni Houthi rebels claimed responsibility and a number of drivers voiced concerns during an online meeting between sessions, which led to an emergency meeting being called by the organizing body before FP2.

A secondary meeting took place after the second practice session – all drivers having been told not to do media beforehand – and included the team principals, FIA president, F1 CEO and numerous high-ranking Saudi officials.

While all of the team principals agreed to continue with the race weekend after having heard of the security measures in place to protect the event, RACER understands some drivers remain uneasy about the situation. Following the initial meeting, the drivers’ briefing took place and then the drivers remained in place for a number of hours after F1 CEO Stefano Domenical had stated all teams agreed to continue racing.

“As you’ve seen, we’ve just done a meeting with the drivers and the team principals, together with the maximum authority of Saudi, with the Prince, the Minister of Sports and the president of the Saudi ASM, with the president of the FIA and we’ve received all assurances that the country’s safety comes first,” Domenicali said.

“No matter the situation, safety has to be guaranteed. They are here with their families, so they have in place all the systems to protect this area – the same with the place where we’re going. So we have to trust the local authorities in that respect and, therefore, of course, we go ahead with the event.

“We’re all together on this, it’s something that is relevant for all of us, and we need to trust the local authorities, not only here – all around the world – because if that’s not the case we will be in a situation that is not manageable.”

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem added: “We had meeting with high level security officials; we had meetings with the team principals; we had meetings with the drivers and, I ask you: who are they targeting? They are targeting the prospector of the oil company, not the civilian and not, of course, the event.

“Of course we had assurances from high levels that this is a secured place. The whole place will be secured and let’s go on racing. All the families are here, we’re only looking forward but with the assurance that nothing is going to happen.”

However, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff hinted at the driver dissent when asked if it was unanimously agreed to continue racing, as he replied: “Between the team principals, yes…”

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