LAS VEGAS – Formula One will continue to hold the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix despite an attack on an oil storage facility near the track prior to last weekend’s race and criticism of the nation’s human right record, CEO Stefano Domenicali told Reuters.
The attack by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi group cast doubts on whether Sunday’s race in Jeddah would go forward but after discussions, F1 and the drivers decided collectively to carry on having received security assurances from Saudi authorities.
“Yes, it’s part of the calendar,” Domenicali said when asked whether F1 would be back in Saudi Arabia for the third edition of the grand prix next year. He added that the decision come from the sport’s leadership with input from drivers and others.
“It is part of our job to make sure that we talk with all the stakeholders. Relevance is absolutely important for us as is open dialogue. But in terms of who is responsible for the commercialisation of the business, that’s the entity that I represent.”
Saudi Arabia has signed a 15-year deal to host a race, with the fees contributing significantly to the bottom line for Formula One’s owners Liberty Media.
The grand prix also reflects the Middle East’s growing profile and influence within the sport, with state-owned energy giant Aramco a major F1 sponsor and joint title partner of the Aston Martin team.