Saudi Arabia discusses F1 over safety


It is an image that sent shivers down my spine. On Friday March 25, Houthi rebels in Yemen, backed by Iran, struck an oil storage facility about 15 km east of Jeddah’s Corniche circuit, the scene of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Flames and smoke were visible as the cars drove on the track near the Red Sea during testing. Drivers and team managers then met for more than four hours to decide whether they were going to continue the weekend.

Several months after the event, Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal, Saudi Minister of Sports, said he had met with Formula 1 players to address their security concerns. While the event had taken place after receiving assurances from the Saudi authorities, it was recognized by all that further discussions were needed after the ordeal. “Most of the concerns were about safetythe Saudi sports minister told Reuters. We personally met all the team principals and I personally met all the drivers. We talked about all these issues and we have an open dialogue with them now. »

Saudi Arabia’s Sports Minister says security will be provided in Jeddah

Prince Al-Faisal argued that Formula 1’s international reputation meant security concerns were a new reality for the sport, wherever it takes place. He cited the case of Silverstone this year, where “Just Stop Oil” protesters invaded the track, or the mass shootings in the United States. “If you look at the world today, chaos reigns everywhere and we have to fight against it. There really isn’t a safe place you can go, whether it’s mass shootings or wars or other things that happen. »

The Saudi-backed coalition in Yemen and the Houthis reached a UN-brokered truce in April, but the deal expired last Sunday. Asked whether the resumption of hostilities in the conflict that has lasted more than seven years will require increased security for next year’s race, Prince Al-Faisal replied that the track would be secured. “It was not the first time this had happened in Saudi Arabia.he claimed of the attacks. It happened this weekend, but we used to have it almost every month. We secure the most important areas that are populated…so the city is secure, the place is secure. »

As a reminder, Saudi Arabia, whose public oil giant Aramco is very present in Formula 1, has concluded a 15-year agreement to organize a Grand Prix.

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