Formula One drivers are raising major questions following the Saudi Arabian GP on Sunday.
Tensions are rising over a decision to allow the race to go ahead after a rocket attack near the Saudi track on Friday.
The incident occurred just before FP2 that evening when a strike on an Aramco oil depot around 15km from the track sent clouds of smoke over the area frightening all involved in the weekend spectacle.
Ahead of Practice kicking off 15-minutes late, drivers, Formula 1 officials, team bosses, and local authorities took part in a four-hour meeting to discuss their safety and whether or not the weekend should go ahead.
Ultimately a decision was made to carry on as planned, although there was a clear feeling of unease among drivers – most of whom want answers on the past weekend as well as the future of Saudi Arabian GP on the calendar.
According to reports, Formula 1 organisers have told divers that all of the details will be given to them around what happened, saying they promise not to simply glaze over it and move on to Australia.
While there were whispers among reporters that drivers felt they were pressured into continuing with Practice, Qualifying and then the race, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff insisted that no one at the meeting pressured the drivers into anything.
Speaking after the Red Bull win on Sunday he said: “There wasn’t any arm-twisting from our side, there were good discussions.
“When the team principals talked to the drivers, I think what we talked was sense and not at all any pressure, but maybe that was perceived in a different way.
“In the end, the show and the spectacle were amazing and what we delivered as a sport was great and this is what sport should do.”
Meanwhile, Max Verstappen spoke on the subject following his maiden win of the 2022 season, and told Sky Sports F1: “We had a lot of guarantees that of course, we would be safe, but I think after this weekend, all the drivers also together, we will speak with F1 and of course also the team bosses to see what’s happening for the future.”
His teammate Sergio Perez added: “I think there’s definitely some considerations that we will have to do as a group and see what’s best for the sport going forwards,” Perez said.
Runner-up Leclerc and his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz, who took the final podium step this time out, said they both believe more discussions are needed between the drivers and Formula 1’s bosses on the topic of safety in light of what happened.
Leclerc said: “It’s definitely a discussion that we should have after this race,” Leclerc said. “Once everything calms down and we’ll look back at it, and then we’ll see.”
Sainz then went on to say: “I think there will need to be discussions after this race, because clearly what has happened in the last 24 hours is definitely a point of discussion and considerations that we need to take going into the future.”
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