F1 CHIEFS insist the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix goes ahead – despite a ROCKET attack just SIX MILES from the Jeddah circuit.
Frightened drivers called an emergency meeting last night after an Aramco fuel depot burst into flames when it was hit by a rocket fired by Yemen’s forces.
But incredibly, race bosses claim they can “guarantee” the safety of teams, fans and media – despite threats of more missile attacks in the country.
The defiant Red Bull boss Christian Horner insisted: “The sport must stand together collectively. Any act of terrorism cannot be tolerated.
“The sport should not be pushed into a situation that is unacceptable. There were assurances from the organizers that we will race.”
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff added: “We have been reassured that we are protected here and it is probably the safest place to be in Saudi Arabia at the moment and we are racing.
“It was a unanimous decision by the team bosses.”
However, in a brazen statement from Saudi Motorsport Company, which is promoting the event, it said: “We look forward to welcoming fans to a weekend of world-class racing and entertainment.”
Yesterday’s rocket attack sent thick black smoke into the sky in the middle of practice.
Flights from the airport, which is located next to the site, were immediately suspended while incoming planes were diverted.
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Last night, team bosses were locked in talks about the safety risk, but the message from organizers was clear – the race is going ahead as planned.
A statement from Saudi Motorsport Company, which is promoting the event, said: “We are aware of the attack on the Aramco distribution station in Jeddah this afternoon.
“Race organizers remain in direct contact with Saudi security authorities, as well as F1 and the FIA, to ensure that all necessary safety and security measures continue to be implemented to ensure the safety of all visitors to the Saudi Arabian Formula 1 Grand Prix guarantee as well as all drivers, teams and stakeholders.
“The race weekend schedule continues as planned. The safety of all our guests remains our top priority and we look forward to welcoming fans to a weekend of world-class racing and entertainment.”
The rebel attack happened around 5:15 p.m., with the black clouds visible in the distance, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen claiming to smell the smoke and mistakenly thinking his engine was on fire.
Amid rising tensions here in the Gulf, FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem organized an emergency meeting with F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and circuit promoter Martin Whitaker to discuss the growing situation ahead of second practice.
The race stewards issued a memo to the teams saying somewhat worryingly “in the interests of safety” that practice would be delayed by 15 minutes.
It came as a spokesman claiming to represent Yemeni forces claimed responsibility for the attack, along with other incidents in Saudi Arabia.
He claimed on Twitter the attacks were “carried out using batches of ballistic and winged missiles and unmanned air force.
“Targeting Aramco facilities in Jeddah and vital facilities in the Saudi enemy’s capital, Riyadh, with a series of winged missiles targeting the Ras Tanura refinery and the Rabigh oil refinery with a large number of drones.”
In a worrying development, Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said in a Twitter post earlier Friday that he would be announcing details of a full-scale operation “deep” in Saudi Arabia.
SunSport reported Monday that Iran-backed Houthis rebels carried out a similar attack in Jeddah last weekend along with other strategic targets in the wake of Yemen’s ongoing civil war.
However, race organizers responded to SunSport’s query with a statement: “This incident has no impact on the race weekend.
“As always, the safety of our guests remains our top priority.
“We are in constant contact with the relevant authorities and all necessary measures have been taken to ensure the safety of all visitors to the Formula One stc Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, as well as the participating staff, staff and the media.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/motorsport/4978450/f1-saudi-arabia-gp-on-despite-rocket-attack-terrorist/ F1 bosses confirm the Saudi Arabia GP will be held just six miles from the track despite a terrorist missile attack