F1 drivers still have serious misgivings about racing in Saudi Arabia

There is distaste at the regime’s appalling human rights record and safety fears

Lewis Hamilton and other drivers have made it clear they still have serious misgivings about racing in Saudi Arabia. Formula One is facing clear dissent and unease about the meeting's future with Hamilton stating: "I am just looking forward to getting out."

The weekend had been dominated by a missile strike that hit Jeddah on Friday, 10 miles from the circuit, and almost resulted in a driver boycott of the race. With distaste at the regime’s appalling human rights record and fears for the safety of their teams, it took a four-hour meeting on Friday night before the drivers were ultimately placated and persuaded to race.

Hamilton was believed to be one of the drivers strongly in favour of cancelling the race and after taking 10th place he only wanted to leave. “I am so happy the weekend is done,” he said. “I am so happy that everyone is safe, I am just looking forward to getting out. I just want to go home.”

The race was won by Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who confirmed that the matter was not closed and that the drivers would once more demand answers from F1 about a meeting that has signed a contract for a decade of more races.

“We had a lot of guarantees that of course it would be safe but after this weekend all the drivers together, we will speak with F1 and the team bosses to see what is happening for the future,” he said.

F1 is enormously keen to keep racing in Saudi Arabia given the reported $900m contract they have to do so but the pushback from the drivers after this weekend is palpable.

“Of course, I am relieved (to have got through the weekend),” said McLaren’s Lando Norris. “It is a nervous place to be and you are going to have these nerves.”

Carlos Sainz was third for Ferrari and Sergio Pérez fourth for Red Bull, with George Russell fifth for Mercedes.

Esteban Ocon was in sixth for Alpine, Norris seventh for McLaren, with Pierre Gasly eighth for AlphaTauri and Magnussen ninth for Haas. - Guardian

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