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F1 boss Stefano Domenicali will battle drivers to safeguard £50m-a-year Saudi Arabia Grand Prix

F1 boss Stefano Domenicali plans to do battle with drivers to secure the £50million-a-year Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, but he will be on the grid over their safety and human rights concerns to discuss

  • The drivers wanted to sit out last weekend’s race in Jeddah after a bomb attack
  • It reportedly took a long meeting to convince them not to boycott the race
  • Saudi Arabia has a £50m-a-year bumper contract, a decade-long contract to host races

Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali will fight any attempt by drivers to kill the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The sport’s chief executive will appear before the start to discuss their security and human rights concerns, with talks almost certain to take place before the next round in Melbourne a week on Sunday.

The drivers were looking to sit out last weekend’s race after a Houthi rocket hit an oil depot 20 miles east of Jeddah’s paddock on Friday afternoon. They were eventually persuaded to participate after talks that lasted into the wee hours of Saturday morning. Part of the compromise was that they could contribute to the debriefing.

F1 boss Stefano Domenicali (center left) won't give in to his desire to keep Saudi Arabian GP

F1 boss Stefano Domenicali (center left) won’t give in to his desire to keep Saudi Arabian GP

The drivers wanted to sit out last weekend's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after a bomb attack

The drivers wanted to sit out last weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after a bomb attack

An oil depot near the Jeddah circuit was bombed Friday, with smoke clouding the track

An oil depot near the Jeddah circuit was bombed Friday, with smoke clouding the track

“If ever there was a time to remove the Grand Prix from the calendar, it was this past weekend,” said a source.

“But it was over. That shows that F1 is strongly committed to keeping the race.

“There is at least a decade left on the contract and it looks like the intent is to see that through.

Drivers, including Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton (pictured), were concerned about racing after the incident, but crunch talks on Friday persuaded them to continue with Sunday's race

Drivers, including Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton (pictured), were concerned about racing after the incident, but crunch talks on Friday persuaded them to continue with Sunday’s race

‘Are there any security concerns? New. Do you think more can be done in the area of ​​human rights? Yes.’

New precautions are believed to include an anti-missile shield for the race site and civilian areas.

The Saudis pay £50 million a year to F1 to host the event. Aramco, the state oil company whose depot was affected, sponsors the sport and the Aston Martin team.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen (above) spoke out, insisting the problem has not been put to bed

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen (above) spoke out, insisting the problem has not been put to bed

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