March 25, 2022
By Abhishek Takle
(Reuters) -Formula One’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will go ahead as planned, organisers said on Friday following attacks on a facility owned by oil giant Aramco near the race track in Jeddah.
Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis said they launched attacks on Saudi energy facilities on Friday and the Saudi-led coalition said Aramco’s petroleum products distribution station in Jeddah was hit, causing a fire in two tanks but no casualties.
“We are aware of the attack on the Aramco distribution station in Jeddah earlier this afternoon,” said race promoter Saudi Motorsport Company in a statement.
“The race organisers remain in direct contact with the Saudi security authorities, as well as F1 and (governing body) FIA to ensure all necessary security and safety measures continue to be implemented…
“The race weekend schedule will continue as planned,” it said, adding organisers looked forward to welcoming fans for a weekend of “premium racing and entertainment.”
A huge plume of black smoke could be seen rising over Jeddah to the east of the track located on the shores of the Red Sea as cars went around the street circuit during Friday’s first practice, which went ahead as planned.
A subsequent qualifying session for feeder series Formula 2 also went ahead on schedule.
The start of the second session of practice was delayed by 15 minutes with teams and drivers called into a meeting with F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali.
“Formula One has been in close contact with the relevant authorities following the situation that took place today,” said a spokesperson.
“The authorities have confirmed that the event can continue as planned and we will remain in close contact with them and all the teams and closely monitor the situation.”
The Iran-aligned Houthi movement has been battling a coalition led by Saudi Arabia for seven years.
(Reporting by Abhishek TakleEditing by Toby Davis)