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F1's 'no war' message not diluted by Saudi Arabian GP controversy

F1's 'no war' message not diluted by Saudi Arabian GP controversy

F1 News

F1's 'no war' message not diluted by Saudi Arabian GP controversy

F1's 'no war' message not diluted by Saudi Arabian GP controversy
Ian Parkes & Sam Hall

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl does not believe F1's 'no war' message at the Bahrain Grand Prix has been diluted by racing in Saudi Arabia despite the Kingdom now in the eighth year of its conflict with Yemen.

Ahead of last weekend's season-opening race in Bahrain, the drivers put on a united front by displaying a banner reading 'No War' in reference to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Although the reference was clear given the sunflower imagery and the Ukrainian flag laid next to the banner, the anti-war stance has been quickly tested in Saudi Arabia.

On Friday, an Aramco oil refinery located 11 kilometres from the Jeddah circuit was attacked by Yemen Houthi rebels, and despite a series of meetings, F1 elected to press ahead with its planned schedule despite the apparent danger.

Asked if racing in Saudi Arabia had "diluted" the anti-war messaging, Seidl said: "What we saw in Bahrain, from my point of view, was a different subject. It was [about] the conflict we are seeing in Ukraine at the moment.

"It was important to make a clear statement and I am very happy with how Formula 1, in general, reacted straightaway to this conflict. It was important to send a clear message that, for the time being, there is no racing in Russia happening.

"At the same time, it was also important on the team's side, together with F1, to see how we can help people there in the best possible way with the financial resources we have.

"With the campaign regarding donations we have put in place with UNICEF, for me, that was, of course, a general message very focused on the conflict going on at the moment."

After F1 decided to continue with its planned weekend, social media quickly criticised the sport for putting money and financial gain ahead of the safety of its personnel.

Answering these comments and put to him the race was only going ahead due to an effective anti-missile system, Seid added: "To be honest, for me, that is not the point.

"I feel comfortable being part of Formula 1 as a global sport, as part of a member of a team having the chance to help positive change in countries we go to where different cultures exist.

"That is for me the point of this discussion and we shouldn't shy back or shut ourselves off from these countries because of the criticism that we are getting."

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