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Wolff - Racing 10 miles from explosion 'culturally normal' in Saudi Arabia

Wolff - Racing 10 miles from explosion 'culturally normal' in Saudi Arabia

F1 News

Wolff - Racing 10 miles from explosion 'culturally normal' in Saudi Arabia

Wolff - Racing 10 miles from explosion 'culturally normal' in Saudi Arabia

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has claimed continuing events after drone strikes is "within their culture" in Saudi Arabia.

Wolff aired his comment after a missile launched by the Yemeni Houthis rebel group struck an Aramco oil refinery 11 kilometres from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit on Friday.

In response to the attack, F1, the FIA, the teams and drivers met several times to consider whether the event should continue, with a decision not reached until the early hours of Saturday morning.

Asked if 'having a missile attack near to the circuit is just part of the deal' of racing in Saudi Arabia, Wolff said: “You can have that opinion, and when you consider the various political conflicts with more severe situations for the population that have been going on in the Middle East for a while.

“I love going to [Israeli city] Tel Aviv but if you live in Tel Aviv you are pretty used to situations where drones are being flown over and it goes in both directions.

“There wasn’t any attack into Saudi Arabia that caused any civilian casualties as far as I have been told for a long time so that is why we just need to understand that this is culturally very different to how we see our western cultures.

“For us, is it acceptable to race 10 miles from where there is a drone rocket going in a petrol tank? Certainly not. But for here, within their culture, these things happen here."

Wolff believes F1 can shine spotlight on Saudi issues

Although there were voices within the paddock on Friday expressing a desire not to continue with the weekend, Wolff explained his opposite reasoning for doing so.

“I don’t want to say I’m not racing because I’m generally someone that wants to give people the benefit of the doubt," added Wolff. "I want to give people the chance to better themselves.

“Does Saudi Arabia and some of the Middle Eastern countries share the same values, the same culture as we do in Europe? They don’t.

“Are they where we want them to be? No.

“Can we put the spotlight on this place by racing here in Formula 1, by making those things visible and therefore making it a better place? I still think so.

“I would rather come here and make the spotlight shine in the region, so it needs to be in a better place rather than saying ‘I am not going there, I don’t want to hear anything about it’.”

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