Hamilton counters F1 rivals Saudi safety trust
By Ian Parkes
Friday 17th March, 2023 - 7:05am
Lewis Hamilton delivered an opposing view after listening to his rivals extol the virtues of heightened safety and security measures for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
A year ago, the second edition of the race at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit captured global headlines following an attack by Yemeni rebels, the Houthis, on a nearby oil refinery in Jeddah whilst the first practice session was taking place.
It prompted urgent talks between F1, the FIA, and all 20 drivers who expressed concerns about racing in a city where the possibility of another terrorist attack threatened to endanger lives.
The culmination of talks that lasted into the early hours of Saturday morning local time was that the remainder of the weekend would go ahead following reassurances from the Saudi authorities and its security forces.
Ahead of this weekend’s return to Jeddah, security has been ramped up to ensure the safety of all concerned. The key factor is that there is currently a ceasefire between Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Sitting in the FIA press conference, Kevin Magnussen, Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll, and Sergio Perez all sang from the same hymnsheet, putting their trust in F1 and the Saudi authorities to keep everybody safe.
As the last in line, when asked for his opinion, Hamilton simply said: “Not much really to add. All the opposite to everything they said.”
When asked to elaborate on his comments, the seven-time F1 champion added: “Well, I didn’t elaborate on it, so it’s open to interpretation.”
Hamilton wants everyone home safe
Pushed on whether he was happy to be racing in the country, Mercedes driver Hamilton replied: “As I said, it’s open to interpretation. I’m looking forward to getting in the car for sure.”
Suggested to Hamilton that was the car to the airport, he said: “No, no, I’m looking forward to driving the car here. The track is pretty awesome.
“And I’m looking forward to the challenge of trying to figure out whether or not we are closer this weekend or whether we are further behind.”
As to whether his concerns were on the political or safety side of the situation, Hamilton stated: “I don’t want to get into either.
“Hopefully, everyone has a safe weekend and hopefully everyone gets home safe afterward. That’s as much as we can do, right?”
Haas driver Magnussen summed up the feelings of the majority as he said: “Last year was pretty special, I would call it, and none of us enjoyed it, but it’s a different situation now.
“There’s a ceasefire between the two parties that were involved last year and that gives us some confidence.
“But there’s not much we can do. We go to these places and we just have to deal with it the best we can and get through it.”
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