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F1 insists race will go ahead despite refinery attack

NEWS STORY
25/03/2022

F1 bosses have said the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will go ahead despite an attack on an oil refinery just a few miles from the Jeddah track.

During this morning's opening session Max Verstappen voiced concern at a burning smell in his car and asked his team if he there was an issue. He was assured that the problem was not with his car.

In reality the smell came from the nearby Aramco oil refinery which had been attacked by Yemeni Houthis, who have been involved in unrest with a coalition headed by Saudi Arabia for several years.

Ahead of this afternoon's practice session, as smoke filled the sky, drivers and team bosses were called to a meeting with the FIA and F1 bosses, resulting in a delay to the start of FP2.

Despite a few objections, having been assured by Stefano Domenicali that everything was under control, the drivers agreed to take part in the session.

Shortly after, F1 issued the following statement:

"Formula One has been in close contact with the relevant authorities following the situation that took place today.

"The authorities have confirmed that the event can continue as planned and we will remain in close contact with them and all the teams and closely monitor the situation."

This was followed by a statement from the race promoter, the Saudi Motorsport Company.

"We are aware of the attack on the Aramco distribution station in Jeddah earlier this afternoon," it read. "The race organisers remain in direct contact with the Saudi security authorities, as well as F1 and the FIA to ensure all necessary security and safety measures continue to be implemented to guarantee the safety of all visitors to the Grand Prix as well as all drivers, teams and stakeholders.

"The race weekend schedule will continue as planned. The safety and security of all our guests continues to be our main priority and we look forward to welcoming fans for a weekend of premium racing and entertainment."

It's understood that Domenicali will hold a further meeting with the drivers and team bosses later this evening.

Check out our Friday gallery from Jeddah, here.

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