The 2022 Saudi Arabian GP was marred after a missile attack was carried out by Yemeni Houthis in a Saudi Aramco oil depot near the Jeddah Circuit. The incident occurred just as Free Practice One and delayed the start of the second session by 15 minutes. F1 officials and Saudi Government members conducted a series of meetings with Team Officials and drivers.
But the attack on the Oil Terminal came less than a week after a similar assault took place at other Saudi targets. This incident caused quite a stir among the personnel at F1 as there were concerns, and the Grand Prix’s future could also be reconsidered.
F1 chiefs have promised to speak to teams and drivers over the next weeks to discuss the events in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabian Government has also promised to consider feedback and concerns from F1 in order “to host F1 as best as it can be anywhere in the world.”
Saudi Arabian GP’s future in doubts after safety concerns
Saudi Arabia’s minister for sports Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal conveyed to the media that the Saudi Arabian Government is working with Formula One. According to him they are open to giving any assurances necessary to the sports as they are committed to holding a safer Saudi Arabian GP and believe this helps the Kingdom’s vision of being part of the international community.
He said, “We are open to sit down, see where the issues are, what assurances are they need. Whatever they want, we are here to host F1 as best as it can be anywhere in the world. So we will definitely have an open discussion with them to see what their feedback is, to discuss with them and see what their concerns are about. We will show them everything.”
He added, “We are here for a long-term partnership for a reason because we see where we’re going. We want to grow with the sport. We know the importance of F1 and we want to be part of the international community. We want to be present. We want everyone to come to Saudi Arabia and feel as if they’re going anywhere else in the world. These issues, unfortunately, do happen, they happen everywhere in the world and we have to deal with them in the best possible way.”
The Grand Prix has received criticism from Amnesty International on the grounds of human rights in Saudi Arabia. The authoritative regime was criticised for its continued repression of dissidents, particularly in light of the mass execution of 81 people two weeks before the race.