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

Hamilton dissents as rivals back F1’s return to Saudi Arabia after missile strike

2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton was a notable dissenter as other Formula 1 drivers said they were happy to race in Saudi Arabia again following the missile strike which occured nearby during last year’s race weekend.

An oil plant 10 kilometres from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit was struck by a missile during the first practice session for last year’s race. The event went ahead following a crisis meeting between drivers and the series bosses which ran late into the night before qualifying.

During today’s FIA press conference several drivers said they were satisfied with the arrangements put in place for them to race in Saudi Arabia this weekend. “We trust FOM and the organisation to keep us safe,” said Esteban Ocon.

“Obviously it was scary what happened last year and none of us wants to ever experience something like that. But we trust everybody around to put us in a safe situation to race.”

Not all drivers backed F1’s decision to return to Jeddah
Sergio Perez said he was “happy to be back” in Jeddah. “As a sport I think we are able to also help the country to evolve for the people that live here. So this is something that as a sport we can be proud of.

“In the other hand we also fully trust the organisations that bring us here to compete in a safe place.”

However Hamilton dissented from the views expressed by his fellow drivers in the same session. “Not much really to add,” he said. “All the opposite really to everything they said.”

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The seven-times world champion said he left his comments “open to interpretation”. Asked whether he was concerned about his safety on the track or in the region, Hamilton said: “I don’t want to get into either.

Smoke from missile strike was visible during practice last year
“Hopefully everyone has a safe weekend and hopefully everyone gets home safe after this. That’s as much as we can do.”

This weekend’s event in the third in a 15-year deal F1 has to race in Saudi Arabia. Speaking in another session, other drivers said they were satisfied with the reassurances they’ve been given about their safety while visiting the country.

“I’m happy we’re racing here,” said Lando Norris. “I think Formula 1 and what we’re doing as a sport is a good thing so I’m not worried about anything.”

Carlos Sainz Jnr said F1 and the authorities have “given us enough reassurances and enough explanations to say that we are in a safe place right now.

“As my understanding goes I need to guide myself by that. Time will tell but I’m confident that they obviously are not lying to us and they are putting together a safe event.

“Honestly, I think it’s a great circuit for Formula 1 and every year the fan base keeps growing. So I think we need to try to enjoy our stay here and enjoy the race as much as possible.”

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2023 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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38 comments on “Hamilton dissents as rivals back F1’s return to Saudi Arabia after missile strike”

  1. Yeah F1 and the drivers are having a lot of positive impacts on Saudi Arabia…

    This happened just a few days ago.

  2. I know many on this site probably think there shouldn’t be a race at Jeddah but I honestly think it is one of the best tracks on the calender. If some drivers feel uncomfortable about racing there I am sure they are plenty reserve drivers willing to fill in.

    1. It’s not about the track, man.

  3. Lewis must really miss Seb, man…

    1. More likely he is pretty certain that the FIA president would use those new rules against him if he did speak his mind, especially in this place @wsrgo

  4. Good on Lewis 👍

    It’s hard to imagine anyone genuinely happy with doing much of anything in Saudi Arabia.

    1. I won’t be heading there any time soon…

  5. So long as Saudi is paying Liberty enough money, then nothing else matters.

    It will be a wonderful race and everyone will enjoy it.

    Stefano will make that clear after the race, don’t worry, everything is fine.

  6. petebaldwin (@)
    16th March 2023, 17:54

    Well done Lewis. F1 being in Saudi Arabia won’t make a single thing even remotely better for those living there. If anything, it makes the situation worse as the ruler’s behaviour becomes normalised and accepted by the wider world.

  7. Isn’t the best form of action to simply not take part in the weekend?

    1. Why don’t you do a few years in the lower categories, win at least one of them, luck into an F1 seat and then see if you think it’s tenable to take that particular moral stand.
      All of the rest have been gagged and LH is making the most amount of noise with his own hand over his mouth and his lawyer gesticulating wildly alongside the cameraman.

  8. Is it the “preventing experssion” directive kicking in or the departure of Seb, but I have not heard anything on the human rights situation in Bahrein at the first GP. Here at the Saudi GP it’s hardly any better…

  9. He doesn’t have to race. He is totally free to sit it out and let someone else drive the car. I am so tired of his whining.

    1. Written by an expert on whining of course.

      1. Hardly, but as a typical Hammyfan, you can’t stand any bit of criticism of your hero.

        1. You are so wrong – not even close to a “Hammy Fan” as your simple vocabulary puts it, are you so blinded by your hatred that you overlay it upon others comments?

    2. some racing fan
      16th March 2023, 22:21

      Actually- he has to. He is contracturally obligated to race in every race in the championship barring injury or illness.

    3. @jblank – What if a missile struck closer by the race track? And nobody said anything? Are you pro-Saudi? Or just anti- “Clown Ham”?

      Sorry, most of the time being pro-F1, pretty much not calling drivers names. Some drivers are not my favorites, but not making myself bigger than them or calling them names.

      Hope your day is good.

    4. I’m already tired of yours.

  10. The Saudi GP will be the first F1 race I will not watch since a loooong time. Not that I expect that it will make any difference and that anybody cares what I do. I have done so much bashing about the Qatar world cup that I would now be a hypocrite if I was watching this.

    Good on Hamilton. It is a bit unsavory to hear drivers explain that it is perfectly fine to race in a country where journalists are tortured and killed, now that they are 100% sure to be safe themselves.

        1. +1 it is ridiculous to make the F1 drivers answer questions like “if they are happy to be back and feel safe” – knowing fully well they aren’t free to speak their minds anymore. F1 is really selling out and pushing it’s luck.

  11. He could have made the ultimate statement and simply refused to go!

  12. Truthfully you won’t find many in the paddock who really want to be there and if drivers were more willing and able to actually speak their minds you wouldn’t hear much positivity about the track either.

    Most of what you hear from drivers and team bosses now are points they are told to say rather than what they actually think and drive to survive has only made that worse as there is a lot of playing to those cameras now.

    Virtually everything that is said and done Infront of cameras and microphones in these conferences and on the pre race programming over the weekend is something thats been gone over and approved and it’s sad just how bad that has got now. It’s always been an element of the media circus but now it’s the predominant element.

    1. This true @gt-racer

      This track is worrisome in different ways. The country it is in, and the track itself is rather dangerous, but it still races on. That is too bad.

    2. Exactly that. Perez’s comments are so blatantly spoon fed.

    3. Yeah, the biggest change from last year if the “anti political talking” thing, apart from some changes to the track that might take some of the dangerous parts away.

      A bit of a sad state of affairs to find F1 in.

  13. The fact their even talking about safety probably suggests they shouldn’t be there… Last year I was genuinely concerned for the entire paddock’s safety and I’m kind of bewildered they went back. But then again, money!

    1. Like Colin Murray says, if it’s sport and it makes no sense, then the answer is money.

  14. *they’re. I’m so sorry….

  15. some racing fan
    16th March 2023, 22:23

    Good on Lewis. This GP is an abomination and it should not continue under any circumstances. I might watch the highlights but absolutely NOT the full race- no one should watch the full race.

  16. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    16th March 2023, 22:44

    I’m far from a lewis fab but good on him for raising this. Having lost some of the more outspoken drivers it’s good he’s using this platform.

  17. You’ve got to wonder why they even put Lewis up for the FIA press conference in the first place, if they want to push the narrative that Everything Is Fine Now and everyone loves being here.

  18. Where’s the nose ring the removal of which may cause disfigurement?

  19. Why am i reading almost every comment about Lewis? What of the other drivers that have rather chosen to toe the line, pull the blanket over their head, bury their head in the sand. Why are there no comments about those drivers? Hypocrites! Too many silver spooned people in this world.

  20. Good luck to all the drivers this weekend at ‘The Bonesaw Circuit’, as it is affectionately known.

    I hope they all make it home safely and in one piece.

  21. I fully agree with Hamilton and I admire he rose from the crowd of yesmen, but I can’t understand how can he, in some other interviews, praise Domenicalli. That man is a talking head of a soulless corporation and as long as the money flows, he doesn’t seem to be troubled with anything.

Comments are closed.