Lando Norris, McLaren, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022

F1 drivers explain why they agreed to race in Saudi Arabia despite “concerns” over attack

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association has issued a statement explaining how they arrived at the decision to continue the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix following yesterday’s missile strike.

The FIA and Formula 1 reacted to the explosion 10 kilometres from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit during yesterday’s first practice session by insisting the event would go ahead. Team principals indicated they supported the decision unanimously.

However the drivers remained in a meeting at the circuit discussing the event until the small hours of the morning. Several of their team principals returned to join the discussion. As the meeting broke up the consensus appeared to be that the event would continue, despite the concerns that had been aired.

GPDA chairman Alexander Wurz issued a statement on behalf of the group saying the drivers had “natural human concerns” over the attack. They aired “a large variety of opinions” in their meeting but agreed the event will go ahead.

“Yesterday was a difficult day for Formula 1 and a stressful day for us Formula 1 drivers,” said 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 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 F1 and the FIA issued a further statement at noon in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, promising to keep an “open dialogue” over the race.

“Following discussions with all the teams and drivers, the 2022 FIA Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will continue as scheduled,” it said.

“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.”

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    63 comments on “F1 drivers explain why they agreed to race in Saudi Arabia despite “concerns” over attack”

    1. Can’t have much of a dialogue when there’s a bone saw on the table.

    2. Clead and open dialogue about “the widely reported incident”? Okay…

      1. Incident incident incident.

        Don’t call it a war.

        Or else.

        1. It’s a strategic military operation.

          It’s a farce. I feel for all those mechanics etc who don’t earn that much money and didn’t agree to put there lifes at stake.

        2. We call it the “Huthi-initiated Policing Operation.”

      2. That statement was probably by someone wearing sunglasses at night.

      3. I guess the “open dialogue” means that the race organizers openly told them how easily they would be able to leave the country if they didn’t race.

    3. “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.”

      Get your tickets to freedom from here

      1. That is the headline text sold to media. Of course we don’t know the full scale details of the strike and after the Formula E incident it is clear that these two are connected. I saw a video where windows were broken as the FP was running. This is a much more bigger thing but it goes under the same umbrella of “not right” as Brazil’s robberies or people running in the middle of the track in middle of the race.

        All this talk about shutting drivers and team personels mouth reminds me of how far we really are from that world which spoke about being carbon neutral, using green fuel and getting different kind of people working in F1.

    4. The absolutely, definitely, totally going ahead Saudi Arabian grand prix. I’m convinced 😅

    5. Open dialogue as in “teams and drivers were informed about the consequences of not racing, such as how easily they would be able to leave the country”, as BBC reported?? Is this a joke?

      1. Andrew Benson is a joke, yes!

        According to Durch journalist Erik van Haren that statement has been denied by those involved in meeting.

        1. If that sort of threat was made, it also rather likely that there would be a threat of retaliation if you went public about it. Therefore, even though the denial might have been made, the question will be if it was made under duress.

        2. I mean, this literally happened to WWE, they held a plane with 175 wrestlers and employers for over 6 hours over a business conflict.

        3. @silfen It seems plausible to me that someone from a team (management) ‘reminded’ everyone of the WWE example as a possible consequence. Which is essentially a threat, even if indirect (if we don’t do X, then they, the Saudis, may do Y).

        4. As @sjaakfoo mentions, this did happen to WWE, and I saw other journalists also reporting that the drivers were reminded/warned that something like that could happen here too @silfen.

    6. Someone posted yesterday to say they hoped @clairecottingham was okay. I’d like to echo that, and I’m sure everyone in our little Racefans community feels the same.

      I’m sure there’s a cold beer waiting in Melbourne.

      1. Why wouldn’t she be okay?

        1. @spafrancorchamps perhaps ‘best wishes’ is more suitable. It can’t be fun for anyone in Jeddah with speculation over another missile.

        2. If you were sitting 6 miles away from a place where something was blown up, would you be “OK”? I remember how I felt after the Manchester bombings. I was over 30 miles away, and that was “just” a terrorists bombing, not a missile attack by an army, and I certainly wasn’t “OK”…

    7. Being threatened with not being able to leave the country if you don’t race is clear and open alright.

    8. “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.”

      Yeh, that ship’s already sailed…

    9. Total madness to race in this country.

      I hope that after this weekend it is goodbye forever.

      1. Totally agree @Silfen. Remove all the sham and what we have is an appalling dictatorship flaunting it’s power and influence while subjugating it’s people and terrorising it’s neighbours. F1 discredits itself by attending here, and other regimes. There must be a line drawn somewhere, it can’t just be all about the money.

        The drivers and team personnel are just doing their job but why we support this is beyond me. At least Hamilton pipes up slightly, more should grow balls and get F1 the heck out of there.

      2. Agreed, it’s not that yesterday’s attack was the first one. Last week several attacks took place.
        The circuit sponsored by aramco (the target firm) is an enormous target. Impossible to defend against a swarm of drones as the houthis use.
        Every hit somewhere on the circuit will be in the world news. Exactly what they want.
        All teams are driving targets as of now.
        Fia should never have allowed to go through with this race.
        Money is more important then lives at fia.

    10. I hope there were violins playing while that statement was read out.
      (There will be when it’s on Drive To Survive)

    11. seeing the smoke from the incident it was difficult to remain a fully focused race driver

      At undoubtedly the most dangerous track in Formula 1 where being ‘fully focused’ is essential. I mean, I know these drivers are the best, but I would be furious at what the sport’s corporate interests and team managers were making me go through in this instance. And when anyone offers you threereasons why everything is 100% fine, nothing will happen, it’s maybe time to worry. Security has been raised to a maximum! (because the Saudi’s aren’t so bothered about oil plants). The Houthi won’t attack the track anyhow as it’s not an economic or infrastructural target! (er, isn’t that how new tracks are sold to the host populations who ultimately pay for these facilities for the government deals?).

      1. Third reason: the Houthi won’t want bad publicity (define ‘bad’).

        1. @david-br oh, you. It’s cute that people think they are smart when they follow one or two whole steps and come to a conclusion. Perhaps it is time you learned that critical thinking is about taking 10 or 20 steps instead of what you can see from your screen.

          I don’t know where you are from, but I do know the American education system is so afraid of hurting people’s feelings that they pretty much don’t even demand actual research or citations in papers so I guess this is where we are.

          1. So help us stupic uneducated people and name the 10 or 15 steps we missed.

          2. @neiana Rather than be insulting, why not explain your views? Enlighten us, oh superior intellect! It sounds like you were educated in a country that doesn’t understand how to communicate effectively.

            1. @ferrox-glideh I replied directly to someone who I explained to before in the previous post on the topic.

              His assumption is that there will probably be an attack on the track and specifically because of the exposure. His assumption seems to stem from the same concept that rebels with a purpose are the same as teen girls on TikTok, that anything for the views & likes, man!!

              My point of view is that these people are fighting for something, and what they are trying to achieve will be lost forever if they attempted to attack a billion dollar worldwide industry owned by American interests in the nation that provides much of the oil industry.

              He also is perfectly willing to believe the people involved in F1 can just walk out of the country when WWE personnel were stranded after just a short part of their Saudi show was not aired. What happens to random F1 personnel if the entire world sees this same industry as the above paragraph (F1) decides to just say “No, you can’t protect us. We’re out.” on the same world stage?

              No, we shouldn’t be racing in Saudi Arabia and I hope it stops, but certain people are simply stopping at step 1.

            2. @neiana

              His assumption is that there will probably be an attack on the track

              If you’re going to try to sound clever (you’re failing) then you need to pay proper attention to the arguments made. I said we cannot be 100% confident that the Houthi won’t attack the race track; you’ve turned that into me assuming there will ‘probably’ be an attack. I stated no such thing. So either you can’t process information adequately or you’re dishonest in your arguments. Or both. The same applies to other opinions you’ve ascribed to me. You decided to be insulting and are now trying to justify that decision by inventing positions I haven’t argued. That just signals to me someone without a basic ethical compass.

          3. No critical thinking is not about taking x amount of steps. The number of steps is irrelevant. I agree with ferrox. Your communication skills are lacking.

          4. If you’re going to insult other people for being stupid, it helps to actually know what you’re talking about. Critical thinking in no way requires 10 to 20 steps to come to a conclusion. Most logical syllogisms only require around 3 steps to reach a conclusion, for example:

            Premise 1: All men are mortal.
            Premise 2: Max Verstappen is a man.
            Conclusion: Max Verstappen is mortal.

            Now I’ve proved you wrong about that, you might also stop to consider what other things you might be wrong about.

          5. @neiana The problem is I know why you decided to be insulting: because I responded to your statement on another thread that you were ‘100% confident’ that nothing will happen this weekend by saying that any such claim would be absurd (which it self-evidently is: it’s pure rhetoric). You had no effective answer there so you decided to come back with a fresh – and abusive – response here rather than having the courage to respond where you should have.
            The remainder isn’t worth answering.

    12. The offer of increased “security” is irrelevant. KSA can’t reliably stop these attacks. It’s only a question of whether the rebels find the event a suitable target. We’re completely at their mercy.

    13. The truth is F1 should never had expanded to Saudi Arabia in the first place. This year’s cancellation of the Russian GP underlines that fact even more.

    14. Incident????

    15. The drivers are practically held hostages. I can’t imagine they’d want to participate next year, I hope they have what it takes to say no, never again.

    16. For anyone that speaks out, the real concern will be the race in Turkey, as a certain crew of associates might show up to meet with you.

    17. Moana Pasifika
      26th March 2022, 12:33

      I read this in the BBC report and was shocked, honestly.
      Still wondering if I misread it.
      Or misunderstood it – English is only my fourth language.
      Good lord!

    18. I think this is a prime example of the fact that ‘sportswashing’ doesn’t exist. Regimes don’t think ‘if we host this sport, everyone will forget what we actually get up to.’ No. They think ‘if we host this sport, we can show how our critics are also our hostages, we can make them do what we want and they have to keep quiet or pay the consequences.’

    19. I believe that the event is likely very secure & is also likely not going to be a target.

      However the fact that event safety/security even needs to be a concern & that all involved needed to be given assurances that the event won’t be attacked & that there safety is guaranteed is a problem in itself & shows that F1 shouldn’t be racing there.

      And then you also have the fact that seeing images/videos of cars racing as fires from attacks burn in the distance simply isn’t a good look for the sport.

      1. @stefmeister I’m sure it’s not a pleasant experience for the drivers. But it’s all too easy to imagine ‘racing in a war zone’ as some kind of ultimate thrill when suitably packaged (desanitized) in a video game, movie or Netflix documentary…

      2. @stefmeister I agree with everything you said!

        1. And he too missed at least 15 steps…

          1. Yes, but @neiana agrees, so obviously that is enough.

    20. There seem to be many abhorrent views held in Saudi, even by those working at the track. This was originally posted by a fire marshall:
      Maybe someone could be found to replace him this weekend? Or forever?

    21. While I hope everyone is safe, the situation in Saudi is well established and the risks are well known. They chose to go so made their choice. This is not a totally unexpected event (been there, scrambled to leave a country) and the risks were accepted (seen that and refused to go).

      Most of the media have an option to work remotely but accepted this risk. No doubt some will give us the war time narrative with themselves in the middle early next week.

    22. Can someone explain to me why are they calling what happened an “incident”?

      1. What was it, if it wasn’t an incident?

        Cambridge dictionary:


        an event that is either unpleasant or unusual

        Seems about right?

        1. With that criteria, they could also refer to the “event”. Maybe even a “unexpected event”

          (Cambridge dictionary:
          anything that happens, especially something important or unusual)

          But this is clearly not the issue here. What happened was not an incident or an event, was an military attack with a missile to a place situated near the track.
          But I guess that in a country that recently executed 81 individuals in one weekend, this was just…, yeah, let’s just call it an incident, nobody is gonna notice.
          Insanely ludicrous, sorry.

      2. Because insurance and reinsurance don’t cover acts of war? Jokes aside, it’s so people stop talking about it.

      3. “Missile attack by freedom fighters” just doesn’t have the same ring to it, I guess.

    23. Sergey Martyn
      26th March 2022, 13:36

      Looks like Liberty, local authorities and FIA were heavily contused during Jeddah blast…
      Next Drive to Survive season should be renamed to:

      How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb…

    24. The irony is they very likely had ‘special operations’ on the eve of the Grand Prix to clamp down on the local factions, which of course then only leads to these reactions. All very counter-intuitive. Actions and reactions.

    25. It’s amazing what Saudi money can do. My question is if anybody will take a knee for world peace? Wear a shirt? Protest? Vettel? Hamilton? Russelll? Anybody?

    26. It’s called Drive to Survive, right? What’s the problem then……..

    27. Russia cancelled. Mazepin given the bum’s rush.
      This place 22 executions to date & all ok?
      Taking double standards & rampant hypocrisy to a new low.
      Wot? No t shirts, no stickers? Hmmm……

    28. They’re more at risk of accidents in these cars going as fast as tickets through blind corners than from an actual rocket landing in or near the circuit

    Comments are closed.