Formula 1’s drivers say “natural human concerns” led to them taking a stand at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, following a missile attack in Jeddah.
A huge fire broke out after the attack on an Aramco plant, within ten miles of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, with the Yemeni Houthi rebels claiming responsibility.
The attack – on the title sponsor of Aston Martin and global partner of F1 – took place during FP1, and the drivers took part in FP2 before holding more than four hours of meetings when they stated they did not want to race, before eventually agreeing to continue with the weekend after further assurances from the authorities.
“Yesterday was a difficult day for Formula 1 and a stressful day for us Formula 1 drivers,” a Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) statement read.
“Perhaps it is difficult 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 1 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 GPDA statement followed a further update from the FIA and F1, that offered no extra detail on Friday’s position that the race would continue as planned.
“Formula 1 and the FIA can confirm that following discussions with all the teams and drivers, the 2022 FIA Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will continue as scheduled,” the statement read.
“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.”