Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton was disappointed to qualify in 16th and finish only in 10th at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday. He was happy to put the weekend behind him, but also admitted after the race that he was “relieved” to finally be heading home after the safety threats throughout the race weekend.
On Friday, Houthi rebels launched a missile attack that struck an Aramco oil depot located just ten miles away from the race circuit. Qualifying and practice sessions proceeded as planned on Saturday, but it was widely reported that a four-hour meeting between the F1 drivers took place late on Saturday evening. The drivers allegedly wanted to go on strike and refuse to race out of concern for the safety of everyone involved.
However, at the conclusion of the talks, it was revealed that the drivers were “persuaded” to race amid assurances that their safety will be guaranteed. However, there are speculations that there were threats involved as well.
Hamilton made it clear that he felt unsafe throughout the weekend. “I am so happy that everyone is safe, I am just looking forward to getting out. I just want to go home,” he said, as quoted by The Sun.
Fans from around the world have been questioning the secrecy behind what was really discussed during the drivers’ meeting. Others have been calling for the cancellation of any future editions of the Saudi Arabian GP.
It is believed that another meeting is set to take place between the drivers, team executives and F1 bosses in order to fully discuss what will took place and what will be done in the future. However, F1 is being criticised for forcing the drivers to race owing to the amount of cash that will be lost if the event is cancelled.
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali defended the decision, saying: “No one can judge our morality, to be honest… Where is the line? That is the question. Our position, and it will always be, is we believe what we’re doing will have a very positive impact in all the political situations… and at all levels.”
McLaren driver Lando Norris shared Hamilton’s opinion. “I am relieved to have got through the weekend. All we want to do is race. But it is a nervous place to be as a driver and that is why we had the talks we did. We were given reassurances and told it is safe, and we had to believe that.”