Formula 1: What happened in Saudi Arabia? Will the race be cancelled?
Everything was set for the Formula 1 race in Saudi Arabia, until a missile attack was launched on an oil facility very near the Jeddah circuit.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels said they launched attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, including an Aramco oil depot near the Jeddah Corniche Circuit where the Formula One Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was set to be held on Sunday. The smoke from the fire caused by the missile could be seen from the race circuit.
The attack has raised fears that the F1 race would no longer be held, but race organizers have said that the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix would go ahead as scheduled.
Race organizers: Security and safety measures to be implemented
“We are aware of the attack on the Aramco distribution station in Jeddah earlier this afternoon,” according to race promoter Saudi Motorsport Company.
“The race organizers remain in direct contact with the Saudi security authorities, as well as F1 and (Formula 1 governing body) FIA to ensure all necessary security and safety measures continue to be implemented.”
Dark black smoke rose over Jeddah as the drivers held their first practice, which proceeded as scheduled.
Drivers concerned about safety
The second practice session was delayed by 15 minutes as F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali called a meeting with teams and drivers.
An F1 spokesperson said that the organization “has been in close contact with the relevant authorities following the situation that took place…”
Other Formula 1 stories:
“The authorities have confirmed that the event can continue as planned and we will remain in close contact with them and all the teams and closely monitor the situation.”
The teams and drivers had another meeting with F1 and the FIA after their second practice. The meeting lasted more than four hours, with drivers reportedly voicing their concerns about their safety. They eventually agreed to go ahead with the race.
Lewis Hamilton: Concerned over human rights record
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton had earlier said he still feels uncomfortable racing in Saudi Arabia, days after receiving a letter from the family of a young man who was 14 years old when he was arrested and was subsequently sentenced to death.
Hamilton had expressed his unease at competing in the country last year due to Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.