Big safety concerns in Saudi

F1 drivers receive security guarantees in Saudi Arabia despite big concerns. After the 2022 Saudi Arabian Formula 1 Grand Prix, where the drivers almost left Jeddah early after an attack near the circuit, they have received guarantees from the authorities to ensure their safety in 2023.

Last year, while the drivers were still on track during the first free practice session of the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, a terrorist attack took place just 10 kilometres from the track with a missile fired at an Aramco oil facility, causing a massive fire. The Yemeni Houthi rebels soon claimed responsibility in a statement for a series of attacks in Saudi Arabia, including one on an oil facility in Jeddah.


Against this backdrop of insecurity, Formula One immediately held a crisis meeting before the second free practice session and quickly took the decision to continue with the weekend’s programme despite the terrorist threat in Jeddah.

But after that meeting, it was the drivers themselves who met to discuss the situation; a meeting that lasted more than four hours in total, when the feeling from the outside was that several drivers were at odds with others about continuing the weekend in Jeddah.



Safety assured by Saudi organisers

In the end, ‘agreement’ was reached between them and they made the decision to continue on Saturday and Sunday and thankfully there were no further incidents to report in the aftermath of one of the strangest weekends of the season.

This weekend, Formula One is back in Jeddah – a year after the terrorist attack – and the drivers have been assured that their safety will be guaranteed at a number of 2022 meetings in Austria and Singapore.

“We have done a lot over the past year to talk to all the teams and drivers about what happened,” says Martin Whitaker, director of the Saudi Motorsport Company.


“Firstly, the Saudi Minister of Sport, HRH Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal visited the Austrian Grand Prix last year and went individually to speak to the drivers, listen to their concerns and reassure them.”

“Secondly, HRH Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal and I spoke to all the drivers at the drivers’ briefing at the Singapore Grand Prix.”

“The most important thing to come out of this is that the F1 teams and drivers appreciated hearing from all the relevant authorities and the Saudi ministry to reassure them of their safety.”

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One response to “Big safety concerns in Saudi

  1. If drivers were so worried about safety, why are they taking part in an exceedingly dangerous and risky sport? Thankfully, some drivers were sensible about it!

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