F1 team bosses say future of Saudi Arabian GP should be discussed

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Several F1 team bosses have suggested that a discussion over the future of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix should take place at some point after Friday's missile attack on a nearby oil site in Jeddah.

The FIA, Formula 1 and the teams came together late on Friday to decide whether to continue the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend.

Safety assurances provided by high-ranking Saudi officials and intelligence agencies eventually alleviated the fears of the F1 community and decided the latter to keep the race weekend going.

But several team bosses believe that the uncomfortable feeling and the risks generated by yesterday's event justifies at the very least a discussion about the merits of racing in Saudi Arabia in the future despite the country holding a ten-year contract with Formula 1.

"We are not in charge of the calendar, but the situation here is for many years," said Williams CEO Jost Capito.

"I think there was a missile attack during the FE race at the beginning of last year, and there were no worries about coming here at the end of last year. So the situation for this weekend hasn't changed at all.

"I think the discussion should have been done before. And now will be after, but not during the event. As long as we have the confirmation that security is there, then we are safe."

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner agreed with his Williams colleague that teams need to discuss the race's future.

"It's not the moment to discuss if it is right or wrong to be here at all," said the Italian.

"I think that is coming in the future, and will be discussed. The FIA and FOM will look into it and then it will be decided what will be done.

"But I think in the moment, we need to focus on the event this weekend and bring it to the end and then start again from fresh."

Aston Martin chief Mike Krack added: "Certainly, there will be a lot of discussions after this event. But again, I can only repeat. It's not the teams that make the calendar.

"It is the FIA and F1 that make the calendar. And obviously we will give an opinion if we are asked and then we move on."

Formula 1 faced heavy criticism when it committed to a decade-long contract with Saudi Arabia, with critics alleging the sport was complicit in the Kingdom's sport washing efforts, a term popularized by Amnesty International to describe the use of sports by oppressive governments to legitimize their regimes and distract from their human rights abuses.

But McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl argued in favor of F1's presence in Saudi Arabia.

Circuit atmosphere - fire following a missile strike on an Aramco oil facility. 25.03.2022 Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jeddah

"I feel comfortable being part of Formula 1 as a global sport, being a member of a team and having the chance to actually help positive change in countries we are going, where, for example, different cultures are existing," said the German.

"That's for me the point of this discussion and I think also we shouldn't shy back, shut ourselves off from these countries because of the criticism that we are getting.

"I see the unique chance we have as a sport for sharing this passion for Formula 1 and also to drive this positive change. And not just on the economics, for example, for the country, but also in terms of positive change on the society.

"Therefore, again, I said before I feel comfortable with the decision Formula 1 is making in terms of going racing."

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