Fire at Aramco oil plant after attack, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 2022

F1 ‘promised drivers it will reconsider safety of all events’ after Jeddah missile attack

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 told drivers it will reconsider the safety and security of all its events following the missile attack which occured yesterday, 10 kilometres away from the scene of this weekend’s race.

Valtteri Bottas and others revealed details of the discussion in the late night meeting between the Grand Prix Drivers Association and F1 bosses following the attack.

He confirmed drivers raised concerns about the safety of the event after seeing smoke from the large fire which broke out at the oil plant which was struck near the circuit.

“We drivers, we were all concerned if it’s safe for all of us to be here, to race here,” said Bottas. “And we got decent explanations on things.

“Also we went through all the options – like what if we don’t race? For example, that will still mean the teams would have to stay here for a couple of days packing stuff. And it’s not like you can create suddenly new flights to get home.

“We’re already here, so our best option was to race here. They’ve increased all the safety facilities and all this defence. So I think everyone agreed that we might as well do the race and hope for the best.”

F1 is in the second event of a 15-year deal to race in Saudi Arabia. Bottas said the series will consider whether it is safe to continue racing there and at other venues.

“Obviously last night was quite late and in some places you don’t need to have that discussion,” he said. “So it’s a unique grand prix.

“At least Formula 1 promised us to reconsider all the events for the future, including this one, to make sure that we go to the right places, that they can guarantee our safety 100% always when we go there.”

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Bottas said he “preferred not to answer” whether he was in favour of racing at the track this weekend or in future. However, he said the GPDA was “really, really united at the moment” despite the decision to do ahead with the race.

“It felt like everyone was kind of feeling the same. With any issues, we will always regroup and go through them and give our view. If it makes a difference that’s nice but it’s not always guaranteed it will.”

GPDA director George Russell said F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali had the backing of the association and also expects further discussions after this weekend.

“I think clarity was needed, the conversation was certainly needed and I think it was good. We’re all standing united, firstly between all the drivers and then together with Formula 1 and ultimately we trust in Stefano and Formula 1 as a whole.

“We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think it was right to be here. So obviously that’s going to need some clarity after this race weekend where we go from here. But from what I understand, everything was under control in this specific region and what happens outside of this region you cannot control.”

The drivers were “very united in asking for some transparency”, said Fernando Alonso, because “we were not happy just seeing the smoke clouds while driving and maybe not knowing the truth and the facts and everything.

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“So we wanted some transparency in that, we found that and I think we were happy.”

He said he is satisfied with the reassurances he’s had from those in charge about the security of the event. “We are here. Once we are here, I think we need to just make sure that the safety of everyone is guaranteed in a way.

“We [the drivers] look like we were there talking about our safety. But honestly, we are concerned about your safety: Media, mechanics, fans, everyone.

“So we think that all the organisers and the authorities and everyone, F1, FOM, are happy with how things are right now and how [they are] for the safety of everyone. So we have to move ahead. But we will hopefully not see any more of this kind of thing.”

Lewis Hamilton said the drivers “worked together as a group, we all discussed and made a decision as a sport.”

“I don’t feel a particular way about it,” he added. “I’m looking forward to get out.”

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2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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8 comments on “F1 ‘promised drivers it will reconsider safety of all events’ after Jeddah missile attack”

  1. I sit here awaiting the screen experts to state how F1, FIA and the drivers are all wrong :)

    Tough choice but the choice has been made and it is time to move on. Hopefully by next year the civil war in Yemen will be in a much better place.

    1. @blueruck Are you sure you want an answer to that question? (And no, “move on” is not a realistic answer given the amount of danger that has been caused by the decision).

  2. I’m hoping there is at least discussion on whether F1 should be in places like Saudi. It’s hard to know what truth there are to statements this weekend so I can’t say what is right or wrong. But discussions are important and if there are elements of truth, there should be serious consideration given to not returning.

  3. I definitely feel like we shouldn’t go to races where they race and “hope for the best…”. I imagine there’ll be more scathing remarks once they’re out of the country. What a farce this weekend has become. Sadly predictable however!

  4. I wonder if these kind of meetings should include F2 drivers (and teams) as well. They are in the exact same position, but tied to what the F1 drivers do. If they decide to go home, F2 also wouldn’t race, i guess…

    Seems weird not to include them in the discussion. I know the GPDA is F1 drivers only, but maybe they should form a bigger association that includes all the support races’ drivers, so in situations like these, they can be part.

    1. So knowing F1 we can probably expect the review to identify Silverstone, Monza and Spa as all too dangerous to continue racing at, whereas Saudi Arabia, China and Azerbaijan will get 2nd GPs and Libya and Nigeria will be added to the calendar.

      1. That was supposed to be an independent comment, not a reply, sorry.

  5. Otmar said there was international military and security expert other than Saudi’s DoD that guarantee event safety. Any news who he/she was and from what institution?

Comments are closed.