The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will go ahead as planned following a meeting between the teams and F1’s governing bodies.
The teams met at 22:00 local time (19:00GMT), including the drivers, to discuss the race weekend in the wake of an attack on an oil facility close to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit where the race is held.
An Aramco oil distribution centre 12 kilometres from the track was set ablaze in an attack that Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for.
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Friday’s practice sessions went ahead as normal, but the second session was delayed by 15 minutes as race organisers briefed drivers on the events in Saudi Arabia.
In a meeting lasting 45 minutes, the teams and drivers were offered assurances that the race weekend was safe.
An F1 statement said: "Formula 1 and the FIA can confirm that following discussions with all the teams and drivers, the 2022 FIA Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will continue as scheduled.
"Following the widely reported incident that took place in Jeddah on Friday, there has been extensive discussion between all stakeholders, the Saudi government authorities and security agencies who have given full and detailed assurances that the event is secure.
"It has been agreed with all stakeholders to maintain a clear and open dialogue throughout the event and for the future."
The sport’s top officials confirmed after the meeting that the race would go ahead and were keen to emphasise that this decision was taken together.
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said: "We have received total assurance of the country's safety first, "They have placed all the systems to protect this area. So, we feel confident that we have to trust the local authority in that respect. We will of course go ahead with the event.
“The attacks targeted industrial sites and not civilians or the Grand Prix,” added Domenicali. "We trust the Saudi authorities. The teams and the drivers have been informed, they will now discuss it.”
FIA President Mohammed bin Sulayem said: "We had meetings with the high level security then we had meetings with the team principals and the drivers.
"And to assure you that, they are targeting the infrastructure of the economy not the civilians and, of course, not the track.
"Of course we have checked the facts from them and we have had the assurance from the high authorities of the safety here and let's go racing."
Drivers and team principles met with a Saudi Delegation including minister of sport Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal.
Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff said:
It was a good meeting, we have been assured that we are protected here and it’s probably the safest place in Saudi Arabia.
When asked whether the decision was unanimous, Wolff answered: “Between the team principles, yes.”
Red Bull’s Christian Horner said: “The sport has to stand together, collectively. Any act of terrorism can not be condoned and the sport should not be bullied. A situation like that just isn’t acceptable.”
“Stefano and the president are dealing with it. We’ve had all the assurances from the organisers and we can go racing.”
A statement from the Saudi Motorsport Company released prior to the latest meeting said: "We are aware of the attack on the Aramco distribution station in Jeddah earlier this afternoon and remain in contact 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 Formula One Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as well as the drivers, teams and stakeholders."
"The race weekend scheduled will continue as planned. The safety and security of all our guests continues to be our main priority and we look forward to welcoming fans for a weekend of premium racing and entertainment."
The drivers returned to their teams and were deep in conversation directly after the second practice session had finished.
They then returned to the F1 headquarters where they were briefed on the incident, and it is understood that some drivers expressed concerns.
A military spokesman for the Houthi rebels said - added Reuters - the organisation claimed responsibility for an attack on Aramco's facilities, which have been hit with missiles, and the Ras Tanura and Rabigh refineries with drones.
As the cars took to the circuit for the first practice, black smoke could be seen drifting into the sky as a result of a large fire at a facility of oil company Aramco, near the Jeddah International Airport.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen had said he could smell ‘burning’ while navigating the first session.
Verstappen said on the team radio: "I smell a bit of a burning feeling. I am not sure if it is my car, or another car."
The Red Bull team engineers responded that his car was not the source of the smell.
There had been a similar attack four days ago, centred on the same oil depot. Reuters reported that there have been no casualties and the fire is under control.
Speaking on Sky Sports’ coverage of the event, Jenson Button said: "The attack, if it is an attack, sounds like it is on their oil reserves which is nothing to do with us.
"Of course, it is unsettling and for the people who aren't here, it is more unsettling, the families of the people who are here in the paddock. So I am hoping for once my wife isn't watching."
All driver media sessions were cancelled for Friday evening while the teams discuss the announcement.
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