Binotto: "Leaving the country would not have been right choice"

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Binotto: "Leaving the country would not have been right choice"

Formula 1

Binotto: "Leaving the country would not have been right choice"

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Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says despite drivers’ concerns about continuing with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, “leaving the country would not have been the right choice”.

The drivers held four hours of meetings on Friday night when they formed a united front stating they were not comfortable racing following an attack on a nearby oil depot, but were eventually convinced to carry on with the weekend. Binotto says it was important the concerns were listened to but that boycotting the race would have been the wrong thing to do.

“The drivers met together, certainly they were concerned,” he said. “After the facts of yesterday, no doubt all of us were concerned.

“The concerns need to be translated into considerations and discussions and we as teams had assurance from F1 and from the Saudi government authorities and security agencies that everything would have been safe and under control.

“That was needed to be explained to the drivers, explained to them the situation, make them understand that we are safe and secure, and I think after long discussions – which is important to have in a transparent way – I think they understood and supported the fact that it is important to stay and remain in Saudi and drive for the weekend.

“By leaving the country, it would not have simply been the right choice. I think there was no right reason to leave the country after the facts that happened and with the assurances that we get. They met, they had their own concerns, they raised them, but I think altogether we got the right assurances and explanations as well.”

However, Binotto admits the drivers are not completely happy with the situation, despite agreeing to continue with the rest of the weekend.

“I don’t think we said that they are 100% happy and fully relaxed. I think there are still concerns but they are listening to the assurances that we gave them and they understand the importance to stay here and somehow try to race because that is the best choice we can do.”

The Ferrari team principal also believes Formula 1 can play a bigger role in improving the situations in countries such as Saudi Arabia and should shy away from that responsibility.

“I would like to insist on the importance of our message and the power of our message, and it’s not only in a democracy but it’s diversity, inclusion, sustainability and how much we can do. It’s really our duty and we cannot escape from that.

“It’s a global sport but it’s not only sport, I think we really need to try and move on and bring positivity and bring positive change wherever we go and wherever we can do.

“I think it’s where we need to focus. Yeah we may argue whether it was right or not to come here, but it was a decision where we somehow all discussed and agreed, and I think by agreeing that in the end what we need to do is simply try to bring the positive message.

“I am pretty sure that we will all be pleased where maybe in a few years time when coming here we will have seen a change, and a positive change. I’m optimistic, maybe, but that’s the way I would like to see things.”

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