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F1 "not blind" to Saudi issues but change won't come in "blink of an eye"

F1 "not blind" to Saudi issues but change won't come in "blink of an eye"

F1 News

F1 "not blind" to Saudi issues but change won't come in "blink of an eye"

F1 "not blind" to Saudi issues but change won't come in "blink of an eye"

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has insisted the sport is "not blind" to issues in Saudi Arabia but has reiterated change in the Kingdom cannot be made in "a blink of an eye".

The announcement of the deal to host races in Saudi Arabia was met with criticism due to historical and continuing human rights abuses in the country, with Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel in particular heavily critical of LGBTQ+ laws last December.

At the time, the seven-time world champion suggested he wasn't comfortable visiting Saudi Arabia.

Concerns grew ahead of this year's event with over 100 people already killed as part of mass executions, with March 12 alone seeing 81 killed.

During first practice at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, black smoke and flames could be seen in the distance as a result of an explosion at a nearby oil refinery which later transpired to be a Yemeni Houthi-claimed missile attack.

Long discussions were held as to whether to race on before assurances were given by Saudi authorities ahead of Saturday's running.

On whether there was now further question marks over the future of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Domenicali said: "It is not a matter of question marks; it is a matter of understanding the situation.

"We are not blind, but we should not forget one thing: this country and the sport is taking a massive step forward. You cannot pretend to change a culture of more than a millennium in the blink of an eye.

"The resources that they're putting in place to move forward, you see here. Don't forget a couple of years ago, women couldn't drive, and they are here on the grid, cheering and seeing the sport. They are changing a lot of laws in order to make sure this is happening. We have to consider that."

Despite the hope that things will take a turn for the good, former Ferrari team principal Domenicali is adamant things "have to be improved" whilst revealing there are "tensions inside".

"We don't want to be political on that," he added.

"But I do believe that we're playing a very important role in the modernisation of this country. We are focusing on making sure it is at the centre of our agenda."

Should F1 continue to race in Saudi Arabia?

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