The 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is still going on, despite the apparent efforts of the Formula 1 drivers to force a turn from the series leaders and the FIA.
F1 initially announced that there was unanimous support among drivers and teams for the event to continue as now scheduled in the wake of the missile strike by Yemen’s Houthi rebel group on a nearby Aramco oil depot on Friday.
But all 20 drivers remained in the F1 guesthouse after team bosses, series chief executive Stefano Domenicali and FIA president Mohamed bin Sulayem left the initial meeting held shortly after the second late practice session.
Subsequently, a meeting of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association was developed, where the drivers continued their conversations together for more than two hours.
The team chiefs got back just before 1.30am local time and left in unison after talks with the drivers to go to the racetrack at the track while the drivers stayed together.
The Race understands that some drivers have expressed serious concerns about continuing to race the Grand Prix in these conditions.
The dramatic call-up of team managers for further talks indicated either the GPDA had reached a consensus that the drivers did not want to race, or enough of them were pushing for a boycott to put the race in doubt.
Andreas Seidl, McLaren team principal, returned to the drivers’ meeting shortly after with the other team bosses.
After further discussions involving Seidl, the group of drivers began to disperse, more than four hours after their first meeting with Domenicali, with GPDA Director George Russell going to the race tower building to join the team chiefs.
When the drivers and team managers started leaving the track, it became clear that for now the result was that the race would indeed go ahead as scheduled, indicating that sufficient safeguards had been given to affect the drivers who were against it.
None of those who left the ring were willing to make any comments to the media yet, though Sergio Perez immediately tweeted That he was “all ready and focused” on qualifying.
F1’s preference to continue the event is based on local intelligence indicating that the grand prix itself will not be a target for the Houthis, and enhanced security measures around the track.
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