Saudi GP to go ahead despite nearby attack

    • Joined ESPN in 2009
    • An FIA accredited F1 journalist since 2011

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Formula One has confirmed this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will go ahead as planned despite an attack on a nearby oil facility.

An Aramco oil depot 10 kilometers east of the Jeddah street circuit was in flames Friday evening, with a large plume of black smoke visible from the track during the opening practice session of the race weekend.

Later in the day, a military spokesperson for Yemen’s Houthis, which have been battling a coalition led by Saudi Arabia for seven years, claimed responsibility for an attack with missiles on an Aramco facility in Jeddah.

The second practice session was delayed by 15 minutes while drivers and team principals met with F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali to discuss Friday’s attacks.

Domenicali offered an update on the situation and informed teams and drivers that the weekend would go ahead as planned.

He also assured them that security had been a priority ahead of the incident after a similar incident on an oil facility in Jeddah last week, which was also linked to a Houthi missile attack.

All 20 drivers then took part in the second practice session.

An official F1 statement released during the evening practice session, said: “Formula One 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.”

The promoter of the race, the Saudi Motorsport Company (SMC), confirmed the attack and said security had been raised to match the threat posed by the events

“We are aware of the attack on the Aramco distribution station in Jeddah earlier this afternoon,” the SMC statement said. “The race organisers remain in direct contact with the Saudi security authorities, as well as F1 and the FIA to ensure all necessary security and safety measures continue to be implemented to guarantee the safety of all visitors to the Formula One stc Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as well as all drivers, teams and stakeholders.

“The race weekend schedule will continue as planned. The safety and security of all our guests continues to be our main priority and we look forward to welcoming fans for a weekend of premium racing and entertainment.”

Regarding the delayed practice session, F1’s governing body issued the following statement. “In the interests of the safety of all participants in the Event, the Stewards have modified the Official Programme for Friday, 25th March 2022, at the request of the Organiser, by delaying the Second Practice Session by 15 minutes to start therefore at 20:15 Saudi Arabian time.”

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