Formula 1 bosses, team bosses and drivers debated whether or not to compete in this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix following a missile attack near the street circuit
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Three more joined Mercedes superstar Lewis Hamilton F1 Drivers leading the crunch talks about whether or not to compete in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
A missile struck a nearby Aramco oil depot in Jeddah during opening practice on Friday. The incident resulted in thick black smoke dominating the air rising over the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
It was quickly reported that the Grand Prix could be canceled due to safety concerns, but then a decision was made to continue racing. The decision came amid a number of drivers voicing concerns about their safety, although they were reportedly persuaded to compete after being assured by team bosses and F1 bosses – including CEO Stefano Domenicali and Ross Brawn.
This is reportedly due to the possible consequences of not racing and whether it would affect the speed at which F1 figures could leave the country. Sky Sports’ Craig Slater revealed Hamilton was a leading voice in the discussions leading to the race’s confirmation, alongside Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly and Mick Schumacher.
“I know that Lewis Hamilton, Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly and young Mick Schumacher led the debate,” Slater said. “I can’t say they came to a unanimous decision to go ahead, but they came to a collective decision that the race should go ahead and that’s why we are where we are now.
“There would have been the potential for them to retire, they have that influence. Of course, the race didn’t go without the drivers.
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“Lewis Hamilton was a huge influence on the decision that the Australian Grand Prix would not go ahead at the height of the Covid pandemic, so they have that influence. There may be different views among the drivers, but it will continue. Today there is additional security around the track and in the hotels.”
The surprising incident comes after a number of drivers – including Hamilton – called Saudi Arabian state officials about their human rights record. It’s an issue that has been discussed on numerous occasions recently, despite the progress that the country has made in recent years.
“Ultimately, it is the responsibility of those in power to make the changes and we really don’t see enough. We have to see more,” said the seven-time world champion. “We try and do what we can and it’s important that we try to educate ourselves and with that little bit of difference we can try to make sure we’re doing something.
“I can’t say much that will make a difference. It’s amazing to hear the stories. I heard a 14 year old on death row sent me a letter. When you’re 14 you don’t know what the hell you’re doing in life. But we don’t choose where we go [to race].
James Moy Photography/PA Images)
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“I think we have an opportunity to try; We have a duty to try and do what we can while we’re here.”
Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate George Russell echoed this sentiment, adding: “It’s clearly worrying to see what’s going on at some of these places.
“But I hope that racing can raise awareness and make a difference in some of these countries, and if we look back 30, 40 years from now and can see that sport was a positive impact on society in some countries back then, we can do that be incredibly proud.”
The 22-race 2022 season – which is expected to return to 23 races in the near future once a replacement for the Russian Grand Prix is found – resumes this weekend with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on March 27.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/formula-1/lewis-hamilton-saudi-arabian-gp-26563592 Inside the F1 Drivers' Meeting when Lewis Hamilton and three others led the Saudi Arabian GP debate