until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

F1 drivers group reassured by ‘maximum security measures’

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
2 min read

The Grand Prix Drivers Association says “security measures being elevated to the maximum” helped reassure Formula’s 1 drivers after a “stressful day” in the wake of a missile attack near the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

F1’s second round of the season looked in serious jeopardy after a nearby explosion caused by Yemen’s Houthi rebel group.

A meeting with F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem updating the drivers on the security details of the race, and assuring them it was safe to continue, ended with a joint declaration from both senior figures that the event had the unanimous support of the teams.

But it did not, as indicated, have the backing of the drivers, who turned the normal Friday drivers’ briefing into a lengthy, private discussion afterwards that ran into the early hours of Saturday morning.

F1 drivers meeting Saudi Arabian GP

They remained locked in conversation in an F1 hospitality room until well past 2am, four hours after first entering it for the initial meeting, and the situation escalated to the point where all 10 team principals were summoned to rejoin.

Eventually, after a subsequent private discussion between the team bosses, which was eventually joined by GPDA director and Mercedes F1 driver George Russell, it was agreed that the race would continue after all.

GPDA chairman Alex Wurz published a statement on behalf of the group that called Friday “a difficult day for Formula 1 and a stressful day for us Formula 1 drivers”.

It read: “Perhaps it is hard to comprehend if you have never driven an F1 car on this fast and challenging Jeddah track but on seeing the smoke from the incident it was difficult to remain a fully focused race driver and erase natural human concerns.

“Consequently, we went into long discussions between ourselves, with our team principals, and with the most senior people who run our sport.

“A large variety of opinions were shared and debated and having listened not only to the Formula 1 powers but also to the Saudi government ministers who explained how security measures were being elevated to the maximum, the outcome was a resolution that we would practise and qualify today and race tomorrow.

“We therefore hope that the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will be remembered as a good race rather than for the incident that took place yesterday.”

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