F1 team principals want talks over future of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 should discuss the future of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after this weekend’s race, team principals have said.

The FIA and F1 have decided to proceed with the event following yesterday’s missile strike on an oil plant 10 kilometres from the track. They said they were given strong assurances by the Saudi authorities that the circuit would not be a target for the Houthi rebels who carried out the attack.

F1 held its first race in the country three months ago as part of a 15-year deal to race in the kingdom. However team principals said today the future of its relationship with the country must be reconsidered in the light of this weekend’s events.

“We are not in charge of the calendar but the situation here is for many years,” Williams CEO Jost Capito pointed out. “I think there was a missile attack during the Formula E race beginning of last year.

“There were no worries then coming here the end of last year and the situation for this weekend hasn’t changed at all. So I think the discussion should have been done before and now will be after, but not during the event.

“As long as we have the confirmation that the security is there, that we are safe.”

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said discussions about whether F1 should race in Saudi Arabia must wait until after the weekend is concluded.

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“Now is not the moment to discuss whether it is right or wrong to be here at all,” he said. “That is coming in the future.

“It will be discussed and the FIA and FOM will look into it and then it will be decided what will be done. But I think in the moment we need to focus on the event this weekend and bring it to an end and then start again from fresh.”

Steiner said he is confident in the security measures which have been put in place for this weekend. “For me the assurance is if the authorities have got their own families here and they feel safe, I can feel safe as well.”

However, he acknowledged they “would reconsider the position” in the event of a further attack. “We would look again what is happening. But in the moment, I don’t have any concerns.

“I cannot look into the future but in the moment I can say if something happens then we can cross that bridge when we get to it and hopefully we don’t get to that bridge that we have some concerns. That is my hope, that we are safe here.

“I still feel safe but if something happens we just need to deal with it. But I am very, very certain that nothing will happen to us otherwise I wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t have told my team to be here.”

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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...
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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15 comments on “F1 team principals want talks over future of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix”

  1. Watching P3, Crofty asked Otmar if he’d heard about drivers being told they might find it difficult to leave Saudi Arabia if they didn’t race!! Have Saudi authorities threatened them to keep the show going?? If that has even a sliver of truth to it truly what is F1 doing here. Should never have been here in the first place but this is not on.

    1. If you do not have a plane ticket and want to leave from an airport from which thousands of other people are leaving at the same time I would assume that this would lead to difficulties.

      1. And if you didn’t need a ticket because you’re on a chartered flight and are already on board, Jeff, the only pusher driver, may have just surpringsly exceeded his working hours and so you’re stuck on the tarmac for 6 hours while the other Jeff from two subdivisions over leisurely walks to work.

  2. Sure, let’s talk about things and get more assurances.

    That’ll change things.

  3. Seeing that the situation in the Emirates is completely identical (Emirates fighting a war in Yemen, drone strike on an oil refinery in Abu Dhabi), it would not make sense only talking about Saudi Arabia.

    Seeing that in general the Western countries see these attacks not as a war, but as terror, then Formula One should logically discuss not racing in any country, which has been attacked by terrorists.

    1. A lot of places have been attacked by terrorists though, France, the UK and USA included. If you’re talking about recent attacks or narrow it down to countries currently at war then I agree with you though.

    2. @uzsjgb Were the Abu Dhabi attacks against targets linked to F1? As far as I know, that is not the case for Abu Dhabi (but is the case for Saudi Arabia). Thus, the risk for F1 in Abu Dhabi’s the same as for any other high-profile Western-orientated event there, which is pretty low but non-zero. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has a significantly raised risk because F1 is there.

  4. Who could have ever predicted that holding a race in a country trying to sportswash its abysmal record on human rights and trying to distract the world from its participation in a civil war in a neighboring country would result in this kind of controversy?

    Oh, right. Everyone.

  5. johnandtonic
    26th March 2022, 15:47

    This has happened in the past, it has happened now and it will happen in the future. The knew it and know it. They made a decision to come. What’s to discuss?

    1. When they plan to stop doing it.

  6. The war with Yemen affecting security, the terrible attitudes and actions by the authoritarian Saudi royal family, the dangerous track… F1 doesn’t need any more reasons to leave. This will be the last Saudi GP.

    1. Hope so.

  7. Racing has moments of peril at times. This is understandable.

    But, adding unsafe perils on a track with no open spaces at risky high speeds in a country with attacks close by and mass executions to their own people. Why race there, when other places have removed these dangers?

  8. Why are they racing in this godforsaken country?

    Beheadings every week for as little as speaking freely, journalists murdered for telling the truth. It’s the epitome of sportswashing.

    F1 needs to learn lessons from the Russia scenario and see the issue before it’s thrust into our faces.

    No Saudi GP. No Bahrain GP. No China GP. No Hungary GP.

    1. We know it is purely about profits. F1 typically earns 3+ times as much money from a propaganda race than they do from races in stable democratic countries. I think Liberty Media’s profits from F1 in 2021 were roughly equal to the amount the Saudi royal family pays them for the event. I suspect if they leave SA, the Saudis will drop the Aramco sponsorship hurting themselves even more. It will be hard to find an F1 title sponsor willing to pay as much I suspect.

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