Ralf: F1 should pack up and leave Saudi Arabia

Michelle Foster
Ralf Schumacher turns from the camera. United States, October 2021.

Ralf Schumacher looks frustrated as he turns from the camera while speaking. United States, October 2021.

Ralf Schumacher believes Formula 1 should “pack up and leave” Saudi Arabia, the Sky commentator having done just that himself.

As Formula 1’s opening practice session took place at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit on Friday, there was a missile attack on a nearby oil facility for which Yemen’s Houthi rebel group have taken responsibility.

The day’s action continued with second practice, which got off to a delayed start, after which the drivers and team bosses met with Formula 1 bosses, Stefano Domenicali and Ross Brawn, to discuss the situation.

Many of the drivers raised concerns about their safety and that of everyone else involved and were said to be considering boycotting the race weekend.

However, after four hours of talks, and reports that they were warned of the “possible consequences” of walking away, they agreed to race.

Schumacher, a former driver turned commentator, says Formula 1 should pack up and go home.

“It’s only 20 kilometres away,” he told Sky Germany. “You don’t really feel good there.

“I’m really surprised what we still doing here. You should pack up as soon as possible and leave a country like that.”

According to reports, Schumacher has done just that, the six-time grand prix winner leaving the country.

He did, however, concede that walking away was not as easy for Formula 1.

“First of all, I have to make it clear that I am an expert on Formula 1 and not on insurance stories or business,” he added. “I think the pressure on Formula 1 is enormous.

“There is a very, very large amount of money being paid and there is a long-term contract.

“Now the discussion is that the Saudi government is saying that they will ensure that it is safe. That means F1 cannot just pull the ripcord.

 

“I think that’s the problem,” Schumacher added. “I have a clear opinion on it and I’ve made my decision. But of course everyone has to do it for themselves.”

Saudi Arabian authorities say there were no casualties from the attack.