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

F1 intends to keep racing in Saudi Arabia despite missile attack

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 intends to return to Saudi Arabia despite the concerns drivers expressed about the race following Friday’s missile attack near the circuit.

An Aramco oil plant 10 kilometres from the circuit was attacked during F1’s first practice session on Friday. The blaze at the facility was visible from the track during the second session, held later that night.

While F1 and the FIA announced the event would continue as planned the 20 F1 drivers raised concerns over the safety of themselves and their team members. They met with team bosses and F1 representatives until the small hours of Saturday morning, eventually leaving the track at around 3am.

Drivers indicated they had been persuaded that calling off the race at short notice would be impractical. However some said they had been given assurances F1 would evaluate whether it was safe to return.

Formula 1 promised us to reconsider all the events for the future, including this one, to make sure that we go to the right places, that they can guarantee our safety 100% always when we go there,” said Valtteri Bottas on Saturday.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022
Hamilton was eager to get the weekend over with
Max Verstappen said he expects further discussions about the future of the race. “We had a long talk with everyone and eventually we all decided to race,” he said. “But for sure, after the weekend we’ll talk more about the whole situation.”

After the race some drivers expressed relief at being able to leave the country. “I’m so happy the weekend is done,” said Lewis Hamilton. “I’m also just so happy that everyone’s safe, and just looking forward to getting out.”

Asked whether he had any concerned about returning next year Hamilton said: “I just want to go home.”

However RaceFans understands F1 intends to return to Saudi Arabia. This year’s race was the second event in a 15-year deal to race in the Middle Eastern nation.

F1 plans to share further information with teams and drivers on the nature of the missile strike and the security arrangements which were made.

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Speaking after the race Daniel Ricciardo said he was relieved that no further problems had arisen.

Start, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in pictures
“There was very long discussions and it was just firstly good to have such an open discussion, not only amongst drivers, but really with all the big dogs, if you will. I think after that we felt more comfortable and at ease.

“Truth be told, the weekend as far as I know ran pretty smoothly. So let’s say the things we were assured seemed to be the case, and that’s all we can say for now. I haven’t thought too much further beyond that, but I knew the rest of the weekend, I guess ran to plan.”

However he indicated the drivers were dissuaded from pressing for the cancellation last weekend’s race out of a concern for the potential consequences.

“I don’t want to get into what was talked about, but I’ll be honest with you, these were things that were also discussed in terms of every action also has a reaction.

“Many things were considered, you could imagine, in four and a half hours what was talked about, every topic under the sun. But of course it wasn’t, obviously, us drivers were the ones making the calls, but there was a lot of other things and personnel in consideration.

“So there is obviously a situation as well where we never want to be seen as obviously selfish in the actions we take. We don’t want to be too self-absorbed and affect others with our decisions as well.”

Feature: Paddock Diary – 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
In an interview on Saturday F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali denied the sport had ignored ethical concerns around the race due to the value of its contact with Saudi Arabia.

“I don’t think that is a right consideration because no one can judge our morality, to be honest, on that respect,” he said. “So I think that [there] is a method of putting in place all the different things that has to be considered.

“I mean, where is the line? That’s the question. And our position is always, and it will be always that, we do believe that what we are doing will have a very positive impact in all the political situations for the best of our life and at our level. So this will be always the consideration that we’re going to take for our future in the sport all over the world.

“Because the good news is that Formula 1 is in a great moment where a lot of countries would like to host that. And of course, that could be a consideration that we need to consider for the future.”

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2022 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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42 comments on “F1 intends to keep racing in Saudi Arabia despite missile attack”

  1. “I don’t want to get into what was talked about, but I’ll be honest with you, these were things that were also discussed in terms of every action also has a reaction.”

    Who talks like this? Someone please give me a normal, innocuous interpretation of this comment.

    1. Pretty simple. The Saudi government paid a lot for this race and if the drivers refuse to race, there will be major issues leaving the country. At best, they’d just be delayed for a few hours. At worst….Who knows?

      Liberty don’t have any ethical standards. If you throw enough blood money at them, they’ll roll over and do whatever you want but I hope some of the drivers do something about it and refuse to travel next year.

    2. “I don’t want to get into what was talked about, but I’ll be honest with you, these were things that were also discussed in terms of every action also has a reaction.”

      Big “we know were you live” energy. Hopefully nobody flashed a bone saw during the meeting.

    3. Government probably gave a few million to the rebels in exchange for not blowing F1 up!

      How else could they be so confident of their safety?

  2. FIA is prostituting Itself – willing to do anything for the right amount of money. Regardless of human rights, drivers’ safety etc.

    1. Nothing new there. Bernice started and the Americans build upon it.

      1. Did you expect anything less?

  3. In an interview on Saturday F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali denied the sport had ignored ethical concerns around the race due to the value of its contact with Saudi Arabia.
    “I don’t think that is a right consideration because no one can judge our morality, to be honest, on that respect,” he said. “So I think that [there] is a method of putting in place all the different things that has to be considered.

    “I mean, where is the line? That’s the question. And our position is always, and it will be always that, we do believe that what we are doing will have a very positive impact in all the political situations for the best of our life and at our level. So this will be always the consideration that we’re going to take for our future in the sport all over the world.”

    How does having a race improve the political situation, Stefano? Not having a race would improve the political situation because you are essentially saying, ‘you can’t have nice things until you improve the situation.’

    1. The irony is also that it’s a few drivers speaking out about the sportswashing races that is driving any sense of dialogue or change. And it’s only the drivers who have enough money and prestige that they are not concerned with professional consequences. And even then the FIA tries limit such expressions at the events.

    2. @f1frog
      I guess it wouldn’t sit well with F1’s title sponsor. There have also been some rumours about the Saudi government not letting the F1 teams leave the country until the race has taken place.

    3. Not having a race would improve the political situation because you are essentially saying, ‘you can’t have nice things until you improve the situation.’

      Alternatively, @f1frog – it could just as easily be the case that if they are denied a F1 event that attracts the world’s eyes and attention, then they have less need to change. Nobody is watching or thinking about their customs, culture or values, and the F1 event will just be somewhere else.

  4. Honestly, did anyone here really think they would stop racing in Saudi?
    F1 never cared about human rights anyway, that’s why they raced in South Africa during Apartheid, Argentina & Spain during their military dictatorships and signed up deals with fascist governments all over the world.
    The argument of F1 racing in such countries to raise awareness for social issues/injustice in these countries is utter bs, because they signed up the deals with people who are responsible for these problems. By signing contracts with these ‘morally questionable’ people, F1 is supporting their political agenda and are, in contrast to what they say, really looking away from the real issues.
    Don’t give these people a platform on which they can gloryfy their criminality!

    1. Tell them why Bahrain was made a night race

  5. As someone said on Twitter recently, “F1 would race in hell if the money was right.”

    1. RocketTankski
      29th March 2022, 18:37

      It’s a growing market.
      We can look forward to the City of Dis street circuit

    2. @forrest Lava instead of gravel traps would probably still be safer than Jeddah.

  6. F1 may intend to go back but if all or most of the drivers refuse to return, they have no product. There are countless examples of companies treating people like objects or tools who’ve quickly realised that without the cooperation of those people they don’t have a functioning business. In F1 that is argueably even more relevant as you can’t exactly replace the entire grid without people noticing in the same way you could with a factory worker for example.

  7. Im more pragmatic about it than some; but if your title sponsor is SA, there is SA money in McLaren from PIF, the FIA President is from Dubai and the big money from an American media company that’s there to satisfy it’s investors, then maybe consider that human rights, etc. won’t be high on the agenda.

  8. I feel this is a place where Vettel as one of GPDA director should take a role. And he seems to be guy who could argue against going to Saudi Arabia again.

    1. With Russia, Vettel claimed he would not race there even if the GP went ahead. Has he made a similar statement about Saudi Arabia? Even his “No War” helmet had the Saudi “Aramco” sponsor displayed above the political message about Ukraine.

      The pressure to disengage with Russia just isn’t there when it comes to other countries like Saudi Arabia. If anything, the energy suppliers of the Middle East will become more important to the West as there is a move away from Russian energy.

      1. Good point regarding Vettel and his teenager-isque revolutions in his mid-life just to resonate well with the LGBTQ+ loving and confused generation of Millennials all over the world . Yes he was a great driver of great caliber and his championship wins speak out for themselves, but trying to fit-in a world by deleting your own identity in the process and supporting causes without fully considering all aspects associated with it should not be the Sebastian Vettel thing to do. Its not even a Jacques Villeneuve thing to do by that standard.

  9. Time for another breakaway series?

    1. F1ethic..

  10. Wasn’t a fia slogan “safety first”?

  11. I wonder what the “potential consequences” were that Daniel Ricciardo was talking about?

    Sounds a lot like thinly-veiled threats.

    So basically, F1 has signed a 15 year contract and just realised that it might be with the devil himself.

  12. They had women driving F1 cars in a demo. That’s progress. Obviously it’s a crappy culture that just sells what happened to be under their feet, with half the population trying to use the other half as slaves, but if you just stay away and leave them to it nothing changes does it? So F1 sailing in with its aspirational status tied in with its more equal values is setting a good example. And F1 itself is on a different point on the same scale after all, with the women in heels (which are more or less disabling) doing support roles.

    But I like Stefano’s last line: “So I think that [there] is a method of putting in place all the different things that has to be considered… Because the good news is that Formula 1 is in a great moment where a lot of countries would like to host that. And of course, that could be a consideration.”

  13. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
    29th March 2022, 21:05

    I’m $hocked. $hocked, I tell you.

  14. “…because no one can judge our morality, to be honest, on that respect,”

    Have to give Stefano a break here – he’s still new to the job. Pretty sure in the FIA PR handbook of banned words, Morality is in the top ten.

    The proper phrase would have been: ” no one can judge our money

  15. I don’t suppose it had anything to do with a supposed $900m over 10 years.

    You can get a lot of Michelin meals and Bollinger for that …

  16. I’m amazed Stefano talks about morality when a month ago they quickly broke all contracts with Russia but we are happily returning to Saudi Arabia for the next 15 years…

    How is it then? We can’t go to a place that’s involved in a war, but we can go to a place with a horrible human rights record and missile attacks as a normal, usual daily thing as Too Wolff put it…

    I’d restrain of using the world “morality” tbh, Stef… Cause you guys have little of it…

  17. Russia invades Ukraine and the Grand Prix is rightly cancelled and all Russian investors and their money rejected. Why, because it’s the right thing to do, to show Russia that you can’t just kill civilians in a war and expect the rest of the world to still be your friend and play with you.

    Saudi Arabia bombs Yemen, kills thousands of civilians, and causes a famine, which will kill even more. They are then rewarded with a Grand Prix contract for multiple years. Why, because it’s the right thing to do, to keep dialogue open and show them by example how decent countries behave.

  18. some racing fan
    30th March 2022, 1:25

    The drivers and teams need to boycott next year’s race. Russia lost its GP yet Saudi Arabia is doing very similar things in Yemen by committing a genocide there- but they get to keep their race is hypocrisy and greed at its finest. On top of that, there was a missile attack not far from the track, which potentially put the visiting teams in danger. And on top of that, this race is part of a totally fraudulent and dishonest program to try to project a better image of a totalitarian country with barbarically cruel laws and a horrific, ultra-conservative interpretation of the Islamic faith.

    1. The Green in their flag is also what fills the pockets of Mercedes, Ferrari and FiA

  19. Not really surprised at all by this.

    Of course they “intend” going back just like I’m sure at some point they “intend” going back to the Russian GP which also pays a huge fee.

    Intention to do something and actually doing it because circumstances preclude it are two different things altogether.

  20. The level of professionalism and commitment from Saudi Arabia towards this event (Formula 1) is fascinating.
    Saudi ensures that the safety and security of their guests is their priority, as well as the safety and security of Saudi citizens and residents.

    1. who do you work for, the saudi king himself?

  21. #weearnasone

  22. in the end it sounds sensible…
    wait no, that’s not the word…
    “irresponsible”.
    there it is!

  23. Someone really. needs to clarify what they mean by “consequences.” There are consequences for every decision. I mean if we’re just talking about the fans being disappointed that’s a consequence and something totally reasonable to consider. If we’re talking about contractual issues (who wouldn’t get paid, what money would have to be paid as penalties, etc) a little more serious and also reasonable to discuss so everyone would know and understand what would happen. If there is anything in there bad enough to make it worth racing in a war zone the FIA needs better lawyers.

    What bugs me in the hint that the “consequences” are something more serious. If that’s not true, someone needs to deny it ASAP. If it is true, No driver should ever set foot in that country no matter what the FIA wants.

  24. I don’t think it is time to stop racing there, I think it is past time.

    Not because of the missiles – though I am not suggesting that drivers should want to race where there are active conflicts – but because there are clear and known human rights issues that transcend any claim to apoliticism. We must learn from events such as the Ukraine crisis that too many ‘blind eye’s’ have been turned over the years.

    I think most of us are to blame in some respects, however this does not absolve those that can make the most difference from failing to take action. Are there really no viable destinations without the inclusion of such questionable venues?

  25. The races in India were cancelled before completing the remaining two out of five in the contract due to …… Tax problems.
    Taxes are more life threatening than explosions in the vicinity of the circuit and concrete walls that stun the drivers and demolish the cars on crashing.

    That is why LH said about F1 “Cash is King”

  26. It occurs to me that these countries and businesses have, to an extent, grasped a two edged sword if whenever a race is hosted, whenever their brands are made prominent, that a blinding white spotlight is also shone on their misdeeds, outright crimes or heinous activities.

Comments are closed.