Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Fire breaks out 12 miles from circuit in Jeddah

Smoke billowed across the track, reportedly from an oil depot, as Lewis Hamilton and his fellow F1 drivers took part in opening practice

Philip Duncan
Friday 25 March 2022 18:15
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Fire in Saudi Arabia ahead of Formula 1 race, claimed as attack by Houthi rebels

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will go ahead as planned this weekend despite an “attack” on an oil depot just 12 miles from the Jeddah circuit, Formula One has confirmed.

A huge fire broke out on Friday and the second practice session was delayed by 15 minutes as smoke billowed across the track following the blaze.

Following a meeting between the FIA and the drivers and teams, an F1 spokesperson said: “Formula One has been in close contact with the relevant authorities following the situation that took place today. The authorities have confirmed that the event can continue as planned and we will remain in close contact with them and all the teams.”

A statement from the Saudi Motorsport Company added: “We are aware of the attack on the Aramco Distribution Station in Jeddah earlier this afternoon and remain in direct contract with the Saudi security authorities as well as F1 and the FIA to ensure all necessary security and safety measures continue to be implemented to guarantee the safety of all visitors to the grand prix as well as drivers, teams and stakeholders.

“The race weekend will continue as planned.”

The fire came days after another attack on an oil depot in Jeddah and the Associated Press reported Yemen’s Houthis rebels acknowledged they launched a series of attacks on the kingdom.

World champion Max Verstappen reported to his Red Bull team over the radio that he could detect the smoke following the blaze.

“I smell a bit of a burning feeling,” said the Dutchman. “I am not sure if it is my car, or another car.”

His engineer Gianpiero Lambiase replied: “We are happy it is not your car.”

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc finished fastest in the opening session ahead of Verstappen. Hamilton was ninth for Mercedes.

The second session was delayed by the fire but got underway 15 minutes after the scheduled start time of 8pm local time.

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