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‘F1 will not be bullied’: Red Bull chief backs Saudi show going on

Red Bull team chief Christian Horner on Friday backed the decision to continue with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix despite a rebel attack on a nearby oil depot, insisting: “F1 will not be bullied”.

“The sport has to stand against this. No terrorism of this kind can be condoned. The sport must not be bullied in this way,” said Horner.

Despite their many disagreements in last year’s tense and dramatic world championship, Horner and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff were united that the show must go on.

“We had a good meeting and we — the team principals — are all agreed on this to go ahead. This circuit is probably the safest place in Saudi Arabia at this moment,” said Wolff.

The two heavyweight team bosses of the paddock were speaking at the end of the day’s practice sessions on the high-speed Jeddah street circuit.

The Yemeni rebel attack on the Aramco facility set off a huge fire near the track during the televised practice sessions, part of a wave of assaults on Aramco facilities.

As smoke billowed, the second practice was delayed as F1 management, team bosses, drivers and race promoters discussed the attack.

“We have received total assurance on safety and security here, for the country and for the families,” said Formula One boss Stefano Domenicali. 

“We have all put safety first to protect this area and the city where we are going.”

He added: “This is a protected area and so we feel confident to trust the local authorities in this respect and we stand together in deciding to go ahead with this event.”

Newly-elected Dubai-born president of the sport’s ruling body, the International Motoring Federation (FIA), Mohammed Ben Sulayem said: “The question is who are these rebels targeting? It is the economic infrastructure not civilians and not this track. We have high level assurance that this is a secure place and nothing is going to happen.”

Aramco is a sponsor of the Aston Martin team.

Meanwhile, Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko also supported the decision to continue.

“If safety is guaranteed, we must go ahead. The Saudis have a defence system and, for some reason, the drone (missile) wasn’t intercepted. The rebels know they get a lot more publicity at a Grand Prix – that’s part of the concept.

“You shouldn’t let terrorism completely intimidate you in normal life. We should take a look now, and if security is guaranteed for the next two days, then we should go ahead.”

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