Safety concerns around the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix had F1 drivers meeting late into the night before deciding whether or not to race.
The Saudi Arabia Grand Prix was in danger of being canceled on Friday night after a missile strike struck an oil refinery less than 10 miles away from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit shortly before the start of Free Practice 2.
While Formula 1 officials maintained the race would go forward despite the safety concerns, the drivers held a lengthy meeting apparently debating whether to race.
When the more-than-four-hour meeting broke after 2:30 a.m. local time, drivers and team principals gave indications that the race would go on.
F1 Twitter wasn’t exactly confident in the way the decision-making was handled.
F1 Twitter wasn’t convinced the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix should be raced
Formula 1 decided to cancel the Russian Grand Prix earlier this year after the country invaded Ukraine. Many thought the talk about not racing in war-torn countries might extend to Saudi Arabia, where the Houthis have vowed to continue attacking until their demands for Yemen are met.
The fact that the rebels have targeted Aramco facilities is of particular concern because Aramco is a global partner of F1. Their logos are often prominently featured at Formula 1 circuits. If the Houthis wanted to make a splash, they couldn’t pick a more prominent target than the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix this weekend.
Aside from the direct concerns over a potential attack, air quality could become an issue for the area with a fire blazing just a few miles down the way.
Saturday will involve a final practice session then qualifying for the race on Sunday. The F1 world can only hope it all goes off without a hitch.