The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is still set to take place following hours of meetings between the drivers, team principals and Formula One Management.
An initial meeting on Friday night resulted in F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem stating the race will go ahead after unanimous agreement from the teams. The drivers were not happy with the stance and remained in the same room following the meeting – plus subsequent driver briefing – to discuss security concerns.
The safety of those at the race was called into question after an attack by the Yemeni Houthi rebels that targeted a nearby Aramco oil depot, causing a massive fire in Jeddah. It was the second attack in the same location within a week and one of multiple on Friday.
All of the drivers remained united to deliver their stance, first as Domenicali and Ross Brawn returned to speak to them, and later when all of the team principals re-joined the discussion in the early hours of the morning.
The meeting finally dispersed at 02:20 local time – more than four hours after the first meeting was convened at 22:00 – and with some drivers still in race suits having come straight from their FP2 debriefs. GPDA director George Russell went straight to race control to speak to the team principals who had all since relocated there, while the majority of drivers returned to their respective teams before leaving the track.
One driver told RACER the meetings had been productive and they felt confident progress had been made, but there was clear tension between drivers and team bosses as they left the paddock. Another source stated no clear decision had been taken, leading to a stalemate with the race still provisionally on.
A number of team bosses – including Toto Wolff, Christian Horner and Zak Brown – confirmed the race is still on at this stage, but it remains to be seen what further stances are taken by the drivers on Saturday.