Formula 1 chiefs are reportedly monitoring the situation in Saudi Arabia after the city of Jeddah, due to host the next grand prix, was targeted by a missile strike.
According to Reuters, the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said on Sunday it had intercepted and destroyed a “hostile air target” aimed towards the Red Sea city of Jeddah, Saudi state media reported.
It comes after Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group attacked an Aramco distribution plant in Jeddah, firing missiles and drones at Saudi energy and water desalination facilities in the southern Jizan region.
A spokesperson from the Arab Coalition told Al Arabiya English they had destroyed 106 explosive-laden boats.
With Jeddah set to host the second round of the F1 2022 calendar at the weekend, the sport’s bosses are “monitoring the situation” as reported by The Sun.
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was added to the F1 calendar for the first time in 2021 but was met with criticism.
Human rights advocates argued the country did not deserve to host a grand prix and some drivers were reportedly concerned about the country’s human rights record.
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 5, 2020
F1 president Stefano Domenicali said he believed the race would actually help to improve the situation and did not believe it was right to be “shutting off” countries.
The drivers reportedly had talks at the British Grand Prix with Saudi Arabia GP race promoter Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Faisal about human rights.
The controversies were not solely off-track though as drivers complained the high-speed circuit was not safe.
Lewis Hamilton beat Max Verstappen to draw level on points before the season’s decider in Abu Dhabi but five drivers DNFed, including George Russell who said motorsport “had a lot to learn” in terms of safety.
Those concerns appear to have been listened to, and the race organisers have made changes in an effort to improve safety.
Turns 2, 3, 14 and 21 have all had their barriers moved back between 1.5m and 2m, while the track at Turn 27 has been widened.
Formula 1 heads to Saudi Arabia following the opening round in Bahrain in which Ferrari took a one-two finish for the first time since Singapore 2019.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had looked on course to separate leader Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz but both he and team-mate Sergio Perez lost power to leave Red Bull with zero points heading to Saudi Arabia.