Formula One’s drivers opted against boycotting the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix because government ministers assured them security measures were being “elevated to the maximum”, according to the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA).
F1’s 20 drivers held a remarkable four hour meeting on Friday evening as they resisted F1’s calls to race on as normal following an attack on an oil depot just 8km away from the Jeddah circuit.
At 2.30 on Saturday morning F1 team bosses and CEO Stefano Domenicali emerged from the meeting to insist the race was going ahead as planned.
It means practice and qualifying will go ahead as scheduled on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s race.
The GPDA, which is led by Mercedes driver George Russell, said it was natural for drivers to have had reservations about going ahead.
The statement said: “Yesterday was a difficult day for Formula One and a stressful day for us Formula One drivers.
“Perhaps it is difficult 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 therefor hope that the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will be remembered as a good race rather than for the incident that took place yesterday”.