Saudi Arabian GP to continue amid F1 assurances of safety

2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Sunday - LAT Images

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah has started its weekend under a cloud of concern over a missile attack in a near-by Aramco oil facility caused fire and smoke during Friday’s sessions.

F1 met with teams and drivers on Friday to discuss the situation with F1 telling the press that safety is being monitored and the race will continue. Motorsport’s Jonathan Noble had the story:

“We have received total assurances that, for the country, safety is first, no matter the situation – safety has to be guaranteed,” he said.

“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.”

I’ve had several DM’s and messages from fans about the situation with some saying it is “game on” and others suggesting the series shouldn’t be running in an area that is volatile. The FIA president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, said:

“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 boss, Toto Wolff, told Sky Sports:

“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.”

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.”

While the FIA, race organizers and F1 are keeping a close eye on proceedings, the obvious question might be, would the attacks now target the race given the official comments have claimed they wouldn’t?

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One missile hit during preparation for the formation lap and you’ve decimated the sport. International outrage would lead to turning Yemen upside down.

That alone is comparable to the 2020 Australian Grand Prix cancellation IMHO.

At the very least, I hope that the FIA would be seeking assurances from the EU or NATO that a defensive action like the one taken during the Formula E race is still viable.