Stefano Domenicali, Formula 1 CEO, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022

F1 will consider suitability of future venues with “rationality” after missile strike near Jeddah

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali says the sport will consider any further response to the missile strike which put the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in doubt “in the right way.”

The series faced calls to leave the country after an attack took place on an oil plant 10 kilometres from the track while first practice was taking place.

F1 drivers who expressed doubts about remaining in the country were persuaded to continue with the event in a late-running meeting on Friday night. Domenicali said in an interview on Saturday the drivers’ concerns were handled “properly”.

“When you have to manage such a situation I think that you need to divide the emotion with the rational aspect of it and try to manage all the information that you have to try to make the right assessment and to involve the right stakeholders, the right people in that decision,” he said.

Domenicali insisted the sport had put the safety of all involved before any other considerations.

“There’s been a lot of discussion, a lot of debate, but safety, security for all the people of our world is at the maximum level of attention to all of us. And there’s no discussion about it. It’s just the first priority.

“Of course, when you talk with the right authority, they have the responsibility for that in terms of the Ministry of Defence, the internal security. When we have received all the [as]surance that everything was under control the properly managed – and we need to rely on them because they have the responsibility for that – we inform the teams and the drivers and we move on.”

Last month F1 cancelled Russia’s grand prix contract following the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Saudi Arabia launched a military invention in Yemen seven years ago and Friday’s attack was carried out by Houthi rebels from its southern neighbour.

Asked whether F1 should not race in countries which are involved in armed conflicts, Domenicali said: “It’s a matter of definition.

“Is a terrorist attack a war? We are talking about sport. We are, of course, in countries with all the authorities, with all the embassies, with all the right governing body. And of course, we will follow that and we will never be in a situation that can jeopardise the safety of our people.”

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Yesterday Valtteri Bottas said F1 bosses told drivers they will “reconsider all the events for the future, including this one, to make sure that we go to the right places.” Domenicali indicated that will go ahead after the race weekend.

“I’m pretty sure that, as I said, something related to the situation would be considered, but in the right way,” he said. “We don’t have to be emotional.

“I say that because I was the first, when I saw that smoke just over there, that reminds me a lot of things that we see now on TV. It’s pretty clear that that was the connection.

“But as I said, rationality over everything. It has been for sure, an intense day, sharing with openness these things I think is the right way to do with modern Formula 1.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said the sport’s European teams need to understand events such as Friday’s missile strike are regarded differently in some countries the visit.

“I love going to Tel Aviv but if you’re in Tel Aviv, you’re pretty used to situations where drones are being flown over and it goes both directions,” he said. “There wasn’t any attack into Saudi Arabia that caused any civilian casualties, as far as I can remember, as far as I’ve been told, for a long time.

“So that’s why we just need to understand that this is culturally very different to how we see our western cultures. For us, is it acceptable to race there is a drone rocket that’s going in a petrol tank? Certainly not. But for here, within their culture, these things happen here.”

He defended F1’s justification for racing in Saudi Arabia, which his driver Lewis Hamilton has criticised for its poor human rights record, saying it was better to engage with the country and bring attention to it than cut them off.

“I don’t want to say ‘well, I’m not racing’ because I’m generally someone that wants to give people the chance to better themselves,” said Wolff.

“Does Saudi Arabia and some of the other Middle Eastern countries share the same values, the same culture as we do in Europe? They don’t. Are they where we want them to be? No. Can we, by coming here, put the spotlight into this place by racing here Formula 1, by making those things visible and therefore making it a better place? I still think so.

“I’d rather come here and make the spotlight shine on the region so it needs to be in a better place rather than say ‘I’m not going there, I don’t want to hear anything of it’.”

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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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13 comments on “F1 will consider suitability of future venues with “rationality” after missile strike near Jeddah”

  1. They will only consider one thing and that is money. Domenicali really seems to love the blood money he is getting. Hope he chokes on it.

    1. Nah, you are overly negative there @darryn. They will certainly weigh all the disadvantages, before judging that the weight of the bags of money promised far outweigh those.

  2. I wouldn’t trust this man if he told me that day is light and night is dark.

    I am a great believer in giving people a chance though.
    So come on Mr Domenicali. Show us where your soul is.

  3. I bet if North Korea will be added to the calendar if they have enough money to pay for a race.

    1. No, North Korea belongs to the group of “bad dictatorships”, like Russia.

      The “good dictatorships” such as Saudi Arabia & Bahrain are okay apparently because they provide us with oil…

  4. Obviously it is not F1’s place to put values onto people. Nor change any. But safety is a thing that anyone who watches, participates or travels with F1 should expect. And Jeddah hasn’t done that, on numerous fronts.

    If F1 wanted to be a mostly Western Europe, US, Australia, Japan series it could be. The reason it is not because Liberty want people to ‘better themselves’ or in the words of Toto “But for here, within their culture, these things happen here.”

    It’s because of profits. It isn’t worth it. It’s not the responsibility of F1 or any sport to change culture or social ideology. Leave that to wars and religious differences, and territorial claims.

    It’s not an idea that is making anyone any happier. Obviously be open to another Grand Prix in the future, but not under these circumstances. If Liberty are clear in that message, they’d do themselves a lot of favours.

  5. Every time he opens his mouth I believe him less and less. He has no credibility at this point for me and I suspect the teams and drivers are quickly arriving at the same conclusion. Notably it wasn’t F1 who decided first to not participate in the Russian Grand Prix, it was the drivers and teams who first put morals over money and forced F1 to capitulate. If they hadn’t been so unified I feel quite confident F1 would have happily held an event in Sochi this year and trusted the “authorities” that everything was safe.

    As for Toto’s comments, there has never been one example of a concert or sports event or anything of the sort causing a change in values of the authoritarian host country. It is supreme arrogance to think F1 will somehow be different than literally every single event in history. And if you needed any more proof, what change has occurred in China, Russia, or Bahrain since F1 began racing there? Zero. F1 has raced in those countries for many years and nothing has changed. In fact, in some examples it’s now worse because these countries are even more emboldened by the relative success of their sportswashing.

  6. “I’d rather come here and make the spotlight shine on the region so it needs to be in a better place rather than say ‘I’m not going there, I don’t want to hear anything of it’.


    That’s never what happens though. These regimes remain unchanged but their behavior becomes normalized to some and forgotten by others. You don’t go to dinner with the neighbor down the street who had your next-door neighbor’s body cut up into pieces and brought home. You don’t associate with people who imprison or cut off the heads of people who advocate for fundamental freedoms.

    1. Couldn’t agree more!

      If F1 is all about money and deals, so be it. But when they start claiming that taking dirty money and signing shady deals with dictatorships is actually good for the world, that’s just ridiculous. The level of hypocrisy is insane!

  7. So what he means is: “Until someone gets seriously hurt, we are going to race, even when there’s a rocket strike near the track.”

    1. From a security standpoint Brazil is probably the most dangerous event on the calendar. I would be so sad to see it go.

  8. Coventry Climax
    28th March 2022, 0:52

    Actions speak louder than words. So far, from Domenicali, it’s mainly words. For the few times there are actions, they contradict the words.

  9. F1 fans do not want to travel to Saudi to watch a race. end of story.

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