Formula 1 announced today that the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend will continue on despite a military attack from Yemen’s Houthi rebels that hit a refinery about six miles (9.6 km) from the race track in Jeddah.
“Formula 1 has been in close contact with the relevant authorities following the situation that took place today,” the sport said in a statement. “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 decision was reached today after drivers and team leaders were summoned to a meeting by Formula 1’s CEO Stefano Domenicali and attended by recently-appointed FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem. The sport has avoided posting publicly about the situation, though, and its official Twitter feed elided the topic, posting instead about lap times following the incident.
FP2 Classification (60/60 mins)
Leclerc goes quickest, Verstappen not far behind#SaudiArabianGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/wbexNoEn49
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 25, 2022
The meeting was called to tell the representatives about updates shared by Saudi Arabian authorities. The Race reports that the decision to continue the Grand Prix weekend was reached after the officials shared intelligence with the sport’s leadership indicating that the event was not a target. Heightened security measures have also in place all weekend.
Al Jazeera reports that Houthi spokesperson Yahya Sarea said the group has taken responsibility for a string of drone and rocket attacks that sparked the blazing fire at an Aramco fuel depot. Sarea added that the attack also targeted vital facilities in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Aramco, a state-run oil company, is a Formula 1 sponsor.
The attack did delay the start of F1‘s second practice event by 15 minutes on Friday and all media sessions that had been planned for the evening were canceled. The race’s organizer, the Saudi Motorsport Company, said that communications between all relevant parties are ongoing.
“The race organizers 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 1 stc Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as well as all drivers, teams, and stakeholders,” it said in a statement. “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.”
NEW – #Houthi strike just hit an #Aramco facility in #Jeddah, on the eve of the #SaudiArabia Grand Prix.pic.twitter.com/nRKYAvk2y7
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) March 25, 2022
Lead photo Mercedes