Formula 1 bosses have told teams and drivers that the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will continue despite a rebel attack within six miles of the circuit in Jeddah.
Yemeni Houthi rebels took responsibility for an attack on the Aramco oil depot in the north of the Saudi Arabian city, part of an ongoing war with a Saudi-led coalition. The attack took place during FP1 and smoke could be seen rising into the sky during the opening session, with a huge fire breaking out at the plant.
Following a lack of updates from F1 and the FIA in response to the situation, RACER understands the drivers held an online meeting during which some expressed concerns about continuing with the race weekend, leading to an emergency meeting being called by F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.
The meeting took place less than 10 minutes before FP2 was due to start and led to a delay of 15 minutes, as Domenicali, Ross Brawn and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem spoke to team principals and drivers to provide the latest information regarding security surrounding the event.
“Formula 1 has been in close contact with the relevant authorities following the situation that took place today,” an F1 statement read. “The authorities have confirmed that the event can continue as planned and we will remain in close contact with them and all the teams and closely monitor the situation.”
The race organizers also said they have no security concerns regarding the event itself, and insisted that it will go ahead despite a further meeting being planned between F1 and the teams at 2200 local time following the end of FP2.
“We are aware of the attack on the Aramco distribution station in Jeddah earlier this afternoon,” the Saudi Motorsport Company said. “The race organizers remain in direct contact with the Saudi security authorities, as well as F1 and the FIA to ensure all necessary security and safety measures continue to be implemented to guarantee the safety of all visitors to the Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as well as all drivers, teams and stakeholders.
“The race weekend schedule will continue as planned. The safety and security of all our guests continues to be our main priority and we look forward to welcoming fans for a weekend of premium racing and entertainment.”