Saudi Arabia to provide necessary insurance for F1 for 2023

The 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will undoubtedly mark a turning point in the history of Formula 1. If the weekend ended well, with a great battle between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, the round in Jeddah made headlines for the wrong reasons. On Friday, while the single-seaters were taking part in free practice, a missile fell on an oil site belonging to Aramco, a major sponsor of F1, about ten kilometers from the circuit.

If the leaders of the discipline as well as the team managers were satisfied with the information given by the authorities concerning safety, the pilots needed long discussions to be reassured. As the threat of an outright boycott hung over the paddock on Friday night, the main players finally agreed to run.

However, championship officials have promised to speak to riders and teams in the coming weeks, including about what happened in Jeddah and the importance of rider voices going forward. If the future of the Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia seemed to be threatened, it turns out that F1 wants to keep the event on the calendar. The topics discussed in the meeting should therefore not be related to the future of the Grand Prix, but rather to the elements presented to ensure the safety of all stakeholders for 2023 and beyond.

The Saudi government is open to discussions, and admits that lessons can be learned from the events of the past weekend. He wishes to make the necessary efforts so that the pilots and the teams feel serene at the idea of ​​returning in 2023. The Minister of Sports, Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal spoke to the media, including : “We haven’t gone into specifics yet, but we are open to discussions.”

“We can get together, identify where the problems are and what assurances to provide. Whatever they want, we are here to welcome F1 as well as it is done anywhere else. So we will have an open discussion with [la F1] to get their feedback, to discuss with them and understand their fears. We’ll show them everything.”

The drivers agreed to race last weekend, after a meeting lasting more than four hours.

This attack comes in an already difficult context for Saudi Arabia, while the country is regularly singled out for its failure to respect human rights. But despite this bad image in the media, Prince Abdulaziz believes that the organization of a Formula 1 Grand Prix always brings its advantages, since the light put on the country during such an event can bring a positive change.

“We signed for a long-term partnership for a reason, because we see where we are going”he explains. “We want to grow with the sport. We know the importance of F1 and we want to be part of the international community. We want to be present. We want everyone to come to Saudi Arabia without preconceptions, like for anyone what other destination in the world. Unfortunately, these problems happen, they happen all over the world, and we have to deal with them in the best way possible.”

The leader also reflects on how sporting events, such as F1 and Formula E, have already enabled the country to open up and be more responsible. For example, Saudi Arabia had to change more than 200 laws to allow motor racing to take place.

“We have always been accused of being closed”laments the Prince. “The first visa granted to a tourist was thanks to Formula E. It was thanks to this event that we issued visas to travelers. Since then, we have gone from one of the most difficult visas to obtain to one of the easiest, with a list of over 50 countries we accept.”

“Nobody understood what Saudi Arabia was. We tell the world to come and understand what our country is, but now we are accused of being too open. We do things very, very quickly “In the end, there is change thanks to motorsport. That’s what the people want. If the people didn’t want it, it wouldn’t have happened. But they’re asking for it, they see it, they’re committed. on social media and see what other countries have.”

Prince Abdulaziz admits that there are negative aspects about his country, and that Saudi Arabia needs to improve in certain areas. However, things cannot change overnight. “We are a young nation. We are learning, we are moving forward, and we have a lot of things to improve and prosper, and things to fix. Change is happening. Today you can see women and men work together everywhere in the kingdom, even in the ministries, whereas certain public places were forbidden to them before.

“All these things are part of a global change”continues the leader. “We can change some things very quickly. Others take time. But we are here to listen, to speak and to discuss. mentioned all these issues. We are here to move forward and to make Saudi Arabia a better place to live a better future.”

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