A defiant Stefano Domenicali has said “no one can judge our morality” after the decision to continue with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – despite a missile strike happening seven miles from the circuit on Friday.
Drivers and teams were in a four-hour meeting on Friday to discuss whether the second round of the championship should go ahead – for the safety of everyone, not just the drivers.
F1’s CEO was fully supportive of the show going on, despite strong and repeated suggestions that it has been putting commercial success before morals.
He believes they made the right decision to continue with the Saudi Arabian race weekend and that the sport makes a positive impact on the countries they visit.
Domenicali told Sky Sports in an interview: “No one can judge our morality, to be honest. It is a matter of putting in place all the things that have to be considered.
“Where is the line? That is the question. Our position, and it will always be, is that we believe that what we’re doing will have a very positive impact in all the political situations for the best of our life and at all levels.”
“This will always be the consideration we will take for our future in the sport, all over the world.”
There has been criticism for F1 competing in Saudi Arabia too due to the lack of women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, with reports of beheadings still common.
Joint statement on the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix pic.twitter.com/xsyYpvVmhB
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 26, 2022
“It is not a matter of questions marks; it is a matter of understanding the situation,” Domenicali said.
“We are not blind, but we should not forget one thing: this country and the sport is taking a massive step forward. You cannot pretend to change a culture of more than a millennium in the blink of an eye.
“The resources that they’re putting in place to move forward, you see here. Don’t forget a couple of years ago, women couldn’t drive, and they are here on the grid, cheering and seeing the sport.
“They are changing a lot of laws in order to make sure this [F1] is happening. We have to consider that.”
Many of the drivers were against continuing with the race weekend, but with assurance and persuasion from F1 bosses, they all came to an agreement.
CEO Domenicali did not deny that there are still issues in the country and that they will continue to keep an eye on things.
“Of course, there are tensions inside, there are things that have to be improved. We don’t want to be political on that, but I do believe that we’re playing a very important role in the modernisation of this country. We are focusing on making sure it is at the centre of our agenda.”
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix highlights
The Saudi Arabian GP once again provided us with a fantastic race, with Max Verstappen having to work hard for his win.