Saudi Arabian GP expected to go ahead after lengthy meeting between drivers

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is expected to go ahead following the conclusion of a lengthy meeting between drivers over a missile attack which occurred near the track on Friday.

The race weekend was thrown into doubt after a missile strike on an oil plant 10 kilometres away from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit while the first practice session was taking place.

Ahead of the second practice session Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem met with teams and drivers to reassure them about the security arrangement at the track and inform them the event would go ahead.

This was reiterated following a second meeting later in the day. Domenicali and Ben Sulayem emerged to tell media they had “assurances from the highest level that this is a secure place” and that “nothing is going to happen.”

Domenicali added that the team principals had been unanimous in their support for the race going ahead. But it soon became clear several of the drivers did not share their confidence.

Having gathered for their usual Friday briefing, the drivers remained for an extended discussion. As it became clear, several had serious misgivings about racing and team principals, who had left the circuit, gradually returned to resume discussions.

The meeting finally broke up around 2:30am local time. While few were prepared to comment on the content of discussion, several team principals remarked that “we’re racing” as they left the paddock, some doing so for a second time.

Pierre Gasly told French broadcaster Canal+ an agreement had been reached by the drivers but would not discuss it.

“It was important to discuss the situation between all of us, but I won’t say more for the moment,” he said. “I think it’s important for everyone to give their opinion a bit and we’re all aligned. We are all aligned with our intentions.”

Sergio Perez posted on social media he is “ready and totally focused for tomorrow’s qualy.”

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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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75 comments on “Saudi Arabian GP expected to go ahead after lengthy meeting between drivers”

  1. Seems as though this race shall not continue in the future. A missile attack within 15km from the racing venue should not happen near a F1 racing event. As well as mass executions taking place days before this event also.

    There is many other places to hold F1 races and welcome F1.

    1. It will take some doing to extricate themselves from the cashflow addiction.
      With the US finally making it’s appearance as the emerging market it makes it simultaneously unlikely and inevitable.
      My guess – they’ll stay on the wagon as long as possible. Chasm, what chasm?

    2. Last weeks do show the hypocrisy doesn’t it? Where are the drivers with their Yemen helmets right now? Where is the massive outcry towards the SA government? What happened to we do not race in countries that are in war?

      Norris had this to say:

      There is no reason we should be able to live our lives normally and go and have a normal race in a country where those things are going on

      Oh, my mistake. He wasn’t talking about SA. Yemen lives don’t matter.

      1. I was commenting about this for a month and I don’t think anyone agreed. I even commented a few days ago that there are attacks in Jeddah and wondered why there’s no mention of that here on this blog, no reaction. Now everyone talks about it… I guess it takes a missile attack during GP event to at least notice it, but that is all. Saudis are US allies, it’s O.K. Vettel is away, but I somwhow doubt he’d repaint the helmet. Yet this war is going on for years and Yemen is a place almost impossible to live in, thanks to these smiling Saudis they greet on track. And why is Chinese GP still considered, with the genocide going on in that country? They are erasing one Uyghurs from the face of the Earth at the moment, either killing, converting or locking them in labor/brainswashing camps, and we talk about millions. Almost no mention, and look how much we talk about a couple thousand victims in Ukraine (as we should). Well, ask your governments that before you vote next time.

        1. Jonathan Parkin
          26th March 2022, 9:21

          Not to mention our current global Pandemic which is also their fault

  2. Wouldn’t George Russell be the one to speak with since he’s a director?

  3. If there is even the slightest chance of an attack on the race track or in the crowd the race should be cancelled.

    This is not about Saudi politics. This is a matter of safety for a lot of people.

    1. There is always a slight chance of an attack somewhere. You wouldn’t be able to race anywhere if “the slightest chance” is all it takes.

      1. Yeah… but Towcester’s usually not ablaze because of missile attacks by Buckinghamshire rebels.

        It’s almost as if putting a race on in a country at war is a bad idea.

        1. It is. But now not more than it was last week.

        2. Yeah… but Towcester’s usually not ablaze because of missile attacks by Buckinghamshire rebels.

          I know I shouldn’t laugh but this did make me spit out my coffee!!

    2. I’m not saying don’t cancel the race.

      But if they DO cancel the race, I bet a number of groups in all sorts of countries, even militant environmental groups, might see if they can F1 banned by calling in bomb threats. So yeah, it’s pros and cons.

  4. The Saudis couldn’t secure a major oil refinery 10 km away. How on earth can they guarantee protecting a race track from drone and missile attack? They can’t. The ‘assurance’ is based on the argument that the Houthi won’t attack the GP as it’s not a viable war target. Why not? The paradox is that the fact that FIA, the F1 teams and the Saudi regime refuse to cancel the GP shows precisely how important it is to the regime (and F1). Basically the team bosses are gambling everyone’s lives on a hunch – and yes I blame them most as they’ve clearly been leading the line to persuade the drivers to get in the cars for two more days. Let’s hope they’re right. Or that sense prevails and the GP is cancelled tomorrow.

    1. +1 I can’t believe they are gonna continue as plannend (well can’t understand they have gone there and Bahrain etc in the first place..) – this event alone should be a major wake up call and a reason to re-think where F1’s priorities lie….

    2. The “Intelligence” clearly didn’t help so close by.

    3. Absolutely agree. Are Russia still the Bad Guys or has anyone remembered what the Saudi’s have been up to in Yemen for the last decade? F1 clearly happy to take the Saudi money, if I was an F1 driver I would get the hell out of there. An International event on Saudi soil is the perfect target for the angry Yemeni people who have been the victims of a decade of genocide.

    4. @david-br realistically what would happen IF the race was hit by a missile while ongoing?

      On international TV?

      Do you think the people involved in such an attack actually want the entire world (minus NK, Russia and Belarus) to decide they are World Enemy #2 (behind Russia)?

      No hunch. I am 100% confident they are not interested in the fallout and I am 100% confident they have zero intentions of doing such a thing.

      1. Do you know how many missiles miss their target? Or do you know about black ops? They may put the blame on the other side (whoever does it). There is war in this country, and you choose to reason with it. I didn’t think Putin would choose to invade Ukraine, yet he did. I don’t think Arabian peninsula is a safer place…

      2. @neiana Obviously anyone actually making that call has to declare that they’re ‘100%’ confident: anything less and they sound like they’re risking lives for another motive (money in this case, or maybe that abandoning the Saudi Arabia GP would be an admission F1 shouldn’t be there anyhow). It’s a war in which atrocities have already happened. Being 100% confident that ‘nothing will happen’ is absurd when the cost/benefits to the belligerents (both sides) of any action like attacking the track are not actually clear-cut.

  5. BBC: “But eventually they were convinced to go ahead and race after being given further information by bosses.

    Part of this information involved the possible consequences of not racing, such as how easily teams and drivers would be able to leave the country if the race did not happen.”

    1. @dmw So basically Saudi Arabia threatened to hold the entire Formula 1 circus hostage? I guess if you want to race in a country run by 12th century barbarians, that’s the kind of situation you end up in.

      1. RandomMallard
        26th March 2022, 7:56

        @david-br I don’t know the full details myself but I believe that was very similar to the situation the WWE found themselves in a couple of years ago.

        (Ser “Travel delays controversy”)

      2. Exactly. Unfortunately it’s a bit late to complain after you’ve sold your soul to the devil. Surely they all know how the regimes in these countries operate and its one of the reasons I will never step foot in one. For leisure or work purposes

      3. Yep. And the drivers now will realise what “driving to survive” really means.

    2. @dmw very interesting! This race may go ahead but I doubt anyone will be willing to come back next year..

  6. Rumors indicate they agreed to race because they feared that it would be difficult to leave the country if they didn’t.

    Take that how you will.

    1. @ppzzus Given the decapitations just for expressing the wrong kind of thoughts in Saudi Arabia, I’d probably take that as a threat. Though I’d never no go near the place anyhow.

      1. Assuming they are accurate I agree. I expect domenicali got absolutely roasted by the drivers in that meeting.

    2. @ppzzus Wouldn’t surprise me as in 2019 WWE held an event in Saudi Arabia and a lot of the wrestlers and crew ended up been stuck in a plane on the runway for about a day because WWE management had had a dispute with a Saudi prince during the show.

  7. The instant respect I’d have for any team boss who simply refuses to bring their team for the rest of the weekend…

    It was an unacceptable risk when they signed the deal, an unacceptable risk when they raced last year and an unacceptable risk to continue now. It seems they are essentially being held “hostage” to race. If that’s the case then the second they get home the powers-that-be need to be held to account for taking money from whichever blood-covered hands reach highest. “It’s a few miles away and they’re not targeting the circuit” doesn’t wash with any sane person.

    I’m genuinely furious and disgusted with the sport I love today and if I wasn’t so concerned about wanting to-the-minute information about loved ones actually at the track, I wouldn’t be watching (for the first time in 25 years).

    1. They’ll only bomb nearby areas but not the circuit..

      1. Sounds safe to me then Grant…

  8. I think we need to ask whether these attacks are happening here and now because F1 is there. If the ordinary citizens of Jeddah are now targets for attacks because F1 is in town, there is absolutely no moral argument for pushing ahead.

    1. This is just what I wondered @jackysteeg when the strike occurred.

      If this was intended to capture international attention due to the F1 presence then I would expect more, and possibly worse, to come over the weekend.

    2. The Iranian backed rebels in Yemen have been supplied with all sorts of long range weapons and have been using them regularly to attack Saudi Arabia and have even reached the UAE. So the citizens of Saudia Arabia have indeed been subject to these attacks previously but I guess the F1 is an ideal target given the level of damage with minimal effort.

    3. @jackysteeg the Aramco Facility in Jeddah has been bombed before but this attack happening when F1 is in town certainly seems more than coincidental

  9. They can’t/won’t race in Spa when there’s rain but they’ll race in Jeddah while it’s raining missiles.

    Take a bow, Liberty.

    1. Quote of the week end

    2. Well said!

    3. 1 missile, 22 kilometres away. Let’s not make it bigger than it is. F1 shouldn’t have come here in the first place. Missiles or no missiles. The country is at war.

  10. Drive to survive has many problems with it, but in this case I’m hoping they had their cameras in the room to see what pressures were applied by the Saudis.

    1. They didn’t and they wouldn’t air it if they had.

      1. So you were in the room and part of the editorial team for Drive to Survive?

        1. @g-funk cameras have been banned from this kind of meeting for a long time now

        2. @g-funk They’re not allowed in the meeting, but apparently they were among the cameras installed outside the (glass-fronted) room.

        3. @g-funk with how few shows surrounding 9-11 have laid blame at the Saudis for their involvement, I just can’t imagine a world where NETFLIX is going to air anything that shows them in a bad light. At all. Especially given how Aramco is highly involved with the sport.

    2. That would involve broadcasting what really happened, and Netflix has no interest in doing so. They’d probably edit it to make it look like Lando planned the whole attack.

      1. I shouldn’t laugh but this is too true.

        Either that or they’ll zoom in on Max and Lewis bumping shoulders slightly, then jump cut straight to the oil depot ablaze.

  11. The Dolphins
    26th March 2022, 3:26

    And here I thought the risk was one/some team member(s) being held hostage by some terrorists, turns out it’s all teams and their staff held hostage by the government.

    1. Who says the government can’t be terrorists?

  12. If they cancelled the race, how do you get all the equipment, personnel, spectators, etc., out of Jeddah safely? It’s going to be a bad situation no matter what is done. I agree with all the posts above and I am also deeply concerned about driver safety just trying to get around this circuit with other drivers are on the track. There have been many close calls, some were closer than close. It boggles my mind that F1 holds a race in SA!

    Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers of 9/11 were Saudi citizens! :(

    1. While I am not disagreeing with you regarding Saudi. Thus missile attack was from Yemen… (Also known as south Iran..)

      1. @Lee1 the attack is part of an ongoing war in Yemen, a proxy war between SA and Iran.

        1. But I thought Formula1 did not go countries waging wars, like Russsia.

  13. F1 should not be racing in Saudi Arabia anyway. But for the greed of Liberty and F1 management. Many people objected to the idea right from the start.

    Let’s hope this does not end in more damage and possibly injury.

  14. They are clearly being coerced into rolling out the dog and pony show, so once they manage to leave this state, they should read the writing on the wall and quickly dissolve the contracts, skip Saudi controlled areas and never return. The FIA needs to take a long hard look at off track safety and develop a program that doesn’t include dictatorship, oppressive regimes etc.

    Liberty needs to take the hit, learn to find countries that are stable, armed conflict free and have an audience that isn’t at gunpoint.

    The team’s need to voice their objections and refuse to participate in dangerous states.

    It’s ridiculous that there is any danger to not racing after a nearby missile attack.

  15. Pedro Andrade
    26th March 2022, 5:07

    For me this is one step way too far, I will not be watching this race. Absolutely appalling that teams may be held hostage if they don’t race. As soon as F1 leaves the country they should never come back again.

    1. I bet Vettel has never been more pleased that he has COVID!

  16. You can only be angry about the situation unless you are also angry about how big businesses like F1 thrive in the first place. Maybe voices can be heard for 2023, but everyone has signed the deal in blood already to be here in 2022, like it or not. There is no good way forward at this point – only 3 or 4 bad ways – and the least bad is actually to continue to f&*$ing race, even though I really would have loved to see the drivers boycott it out of sheer principle.

    1. @gitanes Except the organisers already broke it twice – once by not providing a circuit up to Grade 1 standard (lack of adequete service road means it’s not even Grade 4-compliant), and secondly by failing to provide enough security to avoid track proceedings from being affected.

      Contractually, this should have been an instant cancellation with the organisers footing the bill (and billing the Saudi government if it feels it holds responsibility for the latter part – I doubt they’d accept resonsibility for the organisers not providing a venue fit for purpose).

  17. When Mohammed bin Salman is present at the track, the track becomes a valuable military target.

    The quote on the bbc shows what bin Salman thinks of racing drivers, they are the equivalent of dancing monkeys, only there to perform for the elite.

  18. Being concerned for all F1 members is an understatement. Before this race weekend started I had a niggling feeling that drivers safety was at risk in this race. This being ignorant of the extent of the hostilities. The Australian government should intervene and demand the withdrawal of Ricciardo. I am Australian so yes I am deeply concerned for Daniels safety amongst others in F1. I hope Daniel makes a stand and refuses to race. If he has to sit on the tarmac for 24 hours then so be it. This is completely unacceptable. If anyone in the F1 paddock is brought to harm the ramifications will be immense. This is a ridiculous. This race needs to be called off right now. Make a stand Daniel; for everyone’s sake. The F1 paddock is a prime target as far as I am concerned.

  19. If pandemic and rain can stop F1 why on earth can’t missiles??

    1. And if they are going to race this weekend I bet they have already made the public announcement that they will release.

  20. In the blackest of black scenarious there’s a missle strike before the race killing most of F1 teams’ staff, drivers and organizers, and so F1 seizes to exist.
    And that surreal scenario is plausible right now. Let that sink in.

  21. Saudi Arabia the country well know for funding terror organizations and having one of the most wanted terrorists hail from there, having strict Islamic laws and minimal rights for people of other faith, know for the brutal cold murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in their embassy are giving out veiled threats to F1? That came out of nowhere.

    F1 you have make deals with despondent regimes and murderous dictators, and yet run PR campaigns of hashtags. Is F1 so starved of money that they cant ignore one of the most volatile regions in the world.

  22. Hope all this leads to F1 leaving the place for good and not coming back

  23. It already get in front of the racing event. It really taste bad. Why they insist on to continue, is beyond my understanding. What will you get if you race or not in this waste of land ruled by bigots.

  24. The people have some power here. It takes a lot of them to put on a race. Depending, obviously, on what the intimidation was around difficulty leaving – I wouldn’t want to see anyone detained and possibly hurt. But every driver has the ability to refuse to drive. Every mechanic can refuse to prepare the cars. Every team boss can close the garage. Every Marshall can call in sick. Every medic can stay home.

    I doubt any of them will, but that may well be because they can’t.

  25. I’m no expert on politics. But the last thing Yemen fighters would want to do is attack the f1 event directly. As the negative press would completely undermine their cause and throw further international support to Saudi Arabia.

  26. petebaldwin (@)
    26th March 2022, 10:06

    It’s too late to stop the race now – the drivers will get out OK but no doubts the equipment and lesser staff will be held in the country etc.

    Next year, the drivers have to take a stand and refuse to race there. If they all agreed, there is nothing the team bosses or organisers could do.

  27. Sergey Martyn
    26th March 2022, 10:58

    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…

  28. AD 12-12-21. ‘The fallout from the decisions surrounding this race will echo around F1 for decades.’
    SA 25-03-22. ‘Hold my beer.’

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