Formula One has decided to stick to the schedule plan for the upcoming Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and this decision by Stefano Domenicali and F1 has come in view of the assurances that F1 has been given by the security chiefs in Jeddah.
On Friday afternoon a suspicious missile attack was carried out on an oil factory near the Jeddah Circuit that came less than a week after a similar assault took place at other Saudi targets, yesterday’s incident caused quite a stir among the personnel at F1 as there were concerns that the Grand Prix could also prove to be a potential target.
In order, to get a clearer view of the whole incident various F1 chiefs and Stefano Domenicali held a series of meetings with local authorities to better understand what security measures have been put in place to make sure the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix takes place as planned.
Ahead of the second free practice, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali held a preliminary meeting with the drivers and team Principals after which another meeting took place where Domenicali addressed everyone on the latest development regarding the Grand Prix.
The meeting after the FP2 session took place for 40 minutes after which it was decided that the race should go ahead as planned based on the promises that F1 has received from security personnel at Jeddah.
Stefano Domenicali: F1 is taking the situation very seriously
Immediately after the meeting, Stefano Domenicali made a public statement and said, “We have received total assurances that, for the country, safety is first, no matter the situation – safety has to be guaranteed.”
“They [local officials] are here with their families, actually here at the track, so they have in place all the systems to protect this area, the city, and the places we are going.”
“So we feel confident and we have to trust the local authority in that respect. Therefore of course we will go ahead with the event.“
FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem who also attended the meeting after the FP2 session was asked to give his opinion on the situation and the latter indicated that the attack was carried out by the Houthis who do not target civilians.
“We had meetings with the head of security, and meetings with team principals, and meeting with the drivers.”, said Sulayem.
“And who are they targeting? They are targeting the infrastructure, not the civilians, and not the track.”
“Of course, we checked the facts from them and we had assurance from them that this is a secure place, the whole place will be secure, and let’s go on racing.”
“For sure all their families are here. We are only looking forward but with an assurance that nothing is going to happen.”
Mercedes team Principal Toto Wolff on the Saudi situation said, “It was a good meeting. The drivers are going to talk now in the drivers’ meeting and we, the team principals, have been assured that we are protected here. This is probably the safest place you can be in Saudi Arabia at the moment. That is why we are racing.”
Asked if support for the event going ahead was unanimous, Wolff said: “Between the team principals, yes.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner added, “I think the sport has to stand together collectively. Any act of terrorism cannot be condoned and the sport should not be bullied into a position and a situation like that, it just isn’t acceptable.”
“Stefano and the president are dealing with it and there have been all the assurances from the organizers and we will be going to race.”
Formula One has received all the assurances it could get regarding the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and after having a look at what Stefano Domenicali and the various Team principals have said, it seems they are backing the security authorities in Jeddah and the race is going to go ahead as planned. This is good news for F1 fans all over the world.