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"Our number one priority is safety," says Saudi sports minister

NEWS STORY
05/10/2022

Saudi Arabia's sport minister seeks to assuage F1's fears over safety following 2022 scare.

A missile attack on a nearby oil storage facility as the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend got underway almost saw a boycott of the event, with team bosses and drivers understandably concerned at their safety.

Assurances were given, security was beefed up and the weekend went ahead without a hitch.

However, ahead of the sport's return in March, the country's sport minister, Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal has met with the sport's powers that be, teams and drivers to convince them that there will be no repeats and that there safety is guaranteed.

"We spoke to them about what necessary measures have been taken, working with F1 in particular, and our number one priority is safety for everyone," he said, according to Motorsport.com. "That's not just around the track, but around the Kingdom.

"Funnily enough, three days after that, there was an announcement of a ceasefire," he said of the attack on the Aramco storage facility. "So I think with all the media coming and so on, it was a way to show aggression and to pick up on the media out there. But we were confident that security and safety was there at the time."

Prince Abdulaziz admits that one of the key lessons learned this year was the failure to keep the F1 paddock informed.

"I think what we need to do more is keeping an open dialogue and an open communication between us," he said. "For us even it was a learning curve, so maybe we didn't reach out to a lot of the teams and so on before the first race. We saw that that was necessary now, so we took that action.

"We know that we have some concerns regarding some issues. We're not perfect and we never claimed that we are. But at least we're learning from our experiences and we're taking action to make it better in the future."

Looking ahead to March, he said: "We are working with F1 to make sure that any concerns that any of the drivers, teams or individuals, even the fans, have, that we make sure that we fulfil these concerns. We know that it's safe, but we need to explain what measures have been done.

"More than 4000 troops were deployed during that event just to make sure, because when these things happen, you are afraid people that want to aggravate will pick up on it.

"So we just made sure no one affects the safety of the event and the city. For us, safety and security is even bigger than F1. It's about a nation, so that's our number one priority. And we are working with them."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by alvarezh3, 08/10/2022 1:58

"I envy you guys that has been lucky enough to go up and down Mount Panorama. :-)"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Max Noble, 07/10/2022 10:04

"@alvarezh3 - Had the pleasure of driving Bathurst in the wet in a hire Camry many years ago… I have no idea how they go around that circuit at racing speed… Over the hill and down the corkscrew terrified me… (please don’t tell Avis…).

@Kenji - with you on this! I was flying in and out of the US before, and after 9/11 and people getting p1$$ed at security really annoyed me. I pointed out (to people complaining in the queue) that option 2 was being blown to pieces at 30,000 feet. Grrr…. Security (like a national defence force) is there for a reason…"

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3. Posted by alvarezh3, 07/10/2022 2:07

" @ Kenji, we have got a double header, besides F1, this is Bathurst 1000 weekend! :-)"

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4. Posted by kenji, 06/10/2022 23:53

"@ Alvarezh3. Just another level of security most likely. Attendees would welcome this additional regard for their safety, I know that I would. Those pesky 'Houthis' are hell bent on creating mayhem. "

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5. Posted by alvarezh3, 06/10/2022 3:31

"Hasn't anyone noticed the grey ship circling just outside the circuit? You can sometime see it when the camera focuses on the tourist ship that has so far been anchored at both races very close to the racetrack, it looks to me as being a war ship patrolling the perimeter.

Ever seen, heard or know as being used, any type of military surveillance/protection in any other F1 race?

Being 10 miles away from the ARAMCO oil depot missile attack might be safe enough for military personnel, but for me, without a bomb shelter at my disposal.... it's way too close!"

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6. Posted by Ricardo_sanchez, 05/10/2022 20:52

"Whatever you do, don’t mention the war (in Yemen). Or the name Khashoggi. "

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7. Posted by meatball, 05/10/2022 17:49

"our number one priority is MONEY.

There, fixed that for you. "

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8. Posted by Burton, 05/10/2022 8:50

"I thought this was going to be about the lunatic circuit.."

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9. Posted by Kemawi, 05/10/2022 8:28

"Hmmmmm..... 4000 troops to ensure the GP goes ahead. What a lovely happy contented country Saudi must be. "

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