Formula 1

F1, GPDA Release Statements Addressing Uncertainty over Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Credit: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Following the apparent terrorist attack less than ten kilometres from the Jeddah Cornice Circuit on Friday, extensive talks between drivers, senior team members and the FIA took place on Friday evening to discuss the concerns about continuing the Grand Prix weekend at the track.

An attack on an oil facility near the track threw the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix into doubt, and although teams were quick to come out with a statement saying they will commit to racing, drivers came together for a long, four-hour meeting on Friday evening running into Saturday morning to discuss and raise their own concerns.

Such was the longevity of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) meeting, it would be clear that not all drivers were convinced that the security at the circuit was sound enough to be safe, and the race was in doubt until further talks involving team officials, Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and Formula 1’s Managing Director of Motorsport, Ross Brawn, took place in the early hours.

A statement from the FIA on Saturday morning highlighted some of the concerns but declared that the rest of the Formula 1 weekend, including support races, would be going ahead 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,” read the statement.

“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.”

“On seeing the smoke from the incident it was difficult to remain a fully focused race driver”

The GPDA also released a statement, declaring that Friday had been a difficult day for the drivers as they were unable to fully focus on their job of driving due to the attack.  However, they hope the race can be remembered for what happens on the track rather than off it.

“Yesterday was a difficult day for Formula One and a stressful day for us Formula One drivers,” read the GPDA statement.

“Perhaps it is hard 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 practise 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.”

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