The Formula 1 boss’s astonishing statement after the chaos weekend
81 executions in the middle of the month, a rocket attack and an extremely dangerous track: World champion Verstappen sees Formula 1 in need of explanation after the race in Saudi Arabia. The leader of the racing series obviously thinks very differently.
EIt was a chaotic race weekend that will resonate for a long time. A rocket attack not far from the track, an ugly crash by Mick Schumacher that he was only lucky enough to survive unscathed, drivers thinking of a boycott and a host trampling on human rights. Formula 1 needs explanation after the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.
Many drivers traveled to the race in Jeddah and felt uneasy. This was to be confirmed in the worst way as the war waged by Saudi Arabia against the Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen approached the racetrack. A rocket fired by Yemeni Houthi rebels hit an oil depot owned by state-owned oil company Aramco. Formula 1 director Stefano Domenicali and sports director Ross Brawn were able to avert a driving boycott and after hours of discussion convinced them to continue driving.
They then drove the ultra-fast Red Sea streetcar. Max Verstappen did best, driving from fourth place to victory in his Red Bull, leaving Charles Leclerc in Ferrari. “A colossal spectacle was necessary to soothe days of anxiety, of constant excitement,” wrote the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
There were no serious accidents during the race. Nevertheless, Mick Schumacher’s violent crash that crashed into the wall of the qualifier will be remembered. The crash of more than 250 kilometers per hour on the track wall, the flying tires and debris, the anxious minutes afterwards made Formula 1 pause in shock. The images of Schumacher’s badly damaged race car sparked a debate about the safety of the street circuit. At the premiere four months ago, driver’s spokesman George Russell said the track was unsafe. He was “unnecessarily risky”.
After this, some changes were made, among other things, the drainage zone was expanded in a critical corner. Now Russell said: “The problem is that if you change too much, you lose the DNA from a street circuit. There is still a lot that can be done, but if you lose the car at this pace and there are no drainage zones, you end up you in the wall. ”
Driving ban lifted for women in Saudi Arabia
Despite the rocket attack, the criticism of the course and the human rights situation in the country, the organizers relentlessly went through with the Grand Prix. “We are delighted to welcome fans to a weekend of high-class motorsport and entertainment,” a Formula 1 statement said Sunday.
Formula 1 director Stefano Domenicali defended the holding of the Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia. “We will never be an organization that can not guarantee the safety of its people,” Domenicali told British television broadcaster Sky. Although Formula 1 “is not blind”, it still stands by the heavily criticized host. “This country is making great progress,” Domenicali stressed. You can not pretend that you can change a culture that is thousands of years old from one day to the next: “Many laws in Saudi Arabia are being changed to modernize the country.” He pointed out that the driving ban for women was lifted a few years ago and this is now the case probably also coming to the Grand Prix as spectators.
Saudi Arabia is accused of serious human rights violations. Recently, 81 people were executed in one day in the conservative Islamic kingdom. Opposition groups are persecuted and oppressed. For years, Saudi Arabia has been waging a war in Yemen that has triggered one of the worst humanitarian disasters to date.
“We should talk about the future”
According to Domenicali, Formula 1 “plays a very important role in opening up the country. We are convinced that what we do has a great positive impact,” said the Italian. The racing series is not just about making money. According to reports, Formula 1 will raise up to $ 900 million for the ten-year contract for the race in Saudi Arabia.
The drivers do not seem to take the weekend’s events so lightly. “After this weekend, we should talk to Formula 1 and the team leaders about the future,” said world champion Verstappen.