Recent reports suggest that the Saudi Arabian authorities threatened F1 drivers during the crisis meeting on Friday. Chaos ensued among the F1 drivers and the organizers after a missile attack struck an Aramco oil facility just six miles away from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. F1 called a four-hour-long meeting to address all the concerns raised by the racers and the teams.
It is believed that former world champion Lewis Hamilton led the initiative to give up on the race and head back home immediately. However, F1 decided against it, and the drivers were forced to race at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix on Sunday. After the event’s conclusion, a German report suggests that Saudi Arabian authorities threatened the drivers. They warned the racers of the consequences of not participating in the race. However, F1 has firmly denied all the allegations and deemed the report untrue.
Rumors About Saudi Authorities Threatening The Drivers:
Reports from Germany claim that Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso led a gathering to address all the concerns after the incident on Friday. The drivers decided unanimously against participating in the race on Sunday. They agreed that the second practice on Friday would be the only racing action of the event. However, F1 shockingly came to a decision that the racing would go ahead as usual after the long meeting.
F1 Insider, Roger Benoit, revealed that drivers were threatened after they agreed to abandon the race and head home. The Saudi Arabian authorities explained the possibility of their cars getting seized. The drivers were also told they would have trouble leaving the country if they refused to race in Jeddah. However, F1 has denied all the claims. A spokesperson from Express Sport said, “This is completely untrue.”
Moreover, the drivers and the teams were clearly not satisfied with the outcome of Friday’s meeting. The Drivers have stated that they were not sure if they wanted to return to Saudi Arabia after what happened and how the F1 dealt with it. Hence, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix’s future looks bleak. Despite Liberty Media’s long-term deal with the UK, the return of F1 drivers to Jeddah next season is highly doubtful as of now. F1 will have to listen to the team before scheduling the race calendar.
The Saudi Motosport Company’s CEO, Martin Whitaker, revealed that F1’s three-year stint in Jeddah would most probably be extended to five years. A purpose-built entertainment center called Qiddiya is also being constructed close to the capital of Riyadh. In addition, F1 also has a $900 million contract with Saudi Arabia to host races for the next decade. Hence, the disagreement from the drivers would be hard to deal with for F1.