Saudi Arabian Grand Prix disrupted, as Yemeni rebels launched another missile attack within close proximity of the Saudi Arabian circuit in Jeddah. An Aramco oil refinery near the track was struck overnight, huge fires being visible from the track as well as drivers having to contend with the smell of the fire during the opening practice run. Despite this, organisers have announced that the Saudi Arabian F1 Grand Prix will continue “as planned”.
Drivers and team bosses attended an emergency meeting with race organisers and F1 management before the second practice session. The start of the session is we delayed as F1 boss Stefano Domenicali insisted that the race weekend would continue. An F1 spokesman stated that “Formula 1 has been in close contact with the relevant authorities following the situation that took place today,”
“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.”
At the conclusion of the practice sessions there were further meetings held, as drivers reportedly aired safety concerns about staying in the country and racing amid claims for the Grand Prix to scrapped entirely.
F1 journalist Andrew Benson tweeted: “I’m struggling to remember a time when the drivers have made such a public demonstration of unhappiness with a situation in F1 since the 1982 Kyalami drivers’ strike. But I’m happy to be corrected if others can.”
Broadcaster Jennie Gow added: “This is quite a stand from the drivers. Whatever comes from tonight’s events, it clearly is an important moment in the sport. #F1 drivers have a voice and will use it when they feel they have to. Fascinating turn of events.”
In response Red Bull boss Christian Horner has said that the “show must go on” and that “F1 will not be bullied.”
” The sport has to stand against this. No terrorism of this kind can be condoned. The sport must not be bullied in this way.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was also United with Horner’s position saying that they “had a good meeting and we — the team principals — are all agreed on this to go ahead. This circuit is probably the safest place in Saudi Arabia at this moment.”
Max Verstappen was one of the first drivers to become aware of the drama unfolding off track, asking his team over the radio “I smell burning – is it my car?”
Haas team boss Gunther Steiner told ServusTV, “We were assured by the government that it is safe to drive here. After practice, we’ll have another meeting. Personally, I feel absolutely safe. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.”
The reported missile attack was part of a wave of assaults in the kingdom ahead of the seventh anniversary of a Saudi-led coalition’s military intervention against the Houthis in Yemen.
A coalition tasked with fighting the Iran-backed rebels confirmed the Jeddah oil plant attack stating that “they are trying to impact the nerve-centre of the world economy.” “These attacks have no impact on life in Jeddah,” it added.