Some drivers pushed for Saudi boycott - report

"The team bosses didn’t want to comment on or confirm this story"

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By GMM

27 March 2022 - 08:26
Some drivers pushed for Saudi (...)

Qualifying day may have been explosion-free, but it is clear that the discussions about whether Saudi Arabia should even be on the F1 calendar will run and run.

After Friday’s attacks, in which the number of missiles and drones within a long camera lens of the Jeddah circuit ultimately counted 16, the whispered rumour in the paddock is that Saudi officials had warned that calling off the race would spell more trouble than driving on.

"Were there even threats that they would be forbidden to leave the country and that the cars would be confiscated?" veteran journalist for the Swiss newspaper Blick, Roger Benoit, wondered.

"The team bosses didn’t want to comment on or confirm this story, but there is no longer any doubt that Formula 1 has become a money-hungry company."

After the team bosses initially agreed with race and government insiders to continue racing, the 20 drivers met separately - and sources indicate they were actually unanimous in wanting to go home.

Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that at least five were leading the boycott movement - Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Fernando Alonso, Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll.

Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, meanwhile, says the discussions about Saudi Arabia now need to continue after the sport has left the country following Sunday’s race.

"The officials gave their own views and promised that the safest option was to keep going with the race," the Finn told Viaplay.

"In the future, we need to think about what kind of places we go to. Not everything here is stable.

"But I’m not a politician," Bottas added. "When I am told to race, I race."

Frenchman Gasly, meanwhile, did not deny that he was one of the strongest voices among the drivers, insisting to RTBF: "It is not for me to reveal certain political secrets."

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