An explosion occurred at an Aramco oil plant - located around seven miles from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit - during opening practice for this weekend’s second round of the 2022 F1 season, with black plumes of smoke seen billowing from the track as the session drew to a close. 

Yemen’s Houthis rebel group have claimed responsibility for launching missiles and drones on the facility, which they described as a “third siege-breaking operation” in the past two weeks. 

Second practice got underway following a 15 minute delay after F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem called an emergency meeting to discuss the situation with the teams and drivers. A second meeting took place after FP2, with a Saudi delegation also in attendance.  

Domenicali insisted F1 had received “total assurance” about safety from Saudi authorities and confirmed the race would go ahead. 

“We’ve received total assurances that the country’s safety comes first, no matter the situation, safety has to be guaranteed,” Domenicali said. 

“They are here with their families, so they have in place all the systems to protect this area, the same with the place where we’re going. So we have to trust the local authorities in that respect and, therefore, of course, we go ahead with the event.”

Asked if all the teams were in agreement, Domenicali replied: “Yes, we’re all together on this. 

“It’s something that is relevant for all of us, and we need to trust the local authorities, not only here, all around the world, because if that’s not the case we will be in a situation that is not manageable.”

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It is understood that several drivers have expressed concerns about the safety of the event.

But Ben Sulayem stressed that the Jeddah Circuit is not under threat of being targeted by the attackers. 

“We had meetings with the high level security officials, then we had meetings with the team principals and the drivers,” he said. 

“I mean, who are they targeting? They are targeting the economic infrastructure, not the civilians and, of course, not the track.

“Of course we have checked the facts from them and we have had assurances from the high authorities of the safety here and let’s go racing.

“For sure all the families are here, we are only looking forward but with an assurance that nothing is going to happen.” 

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the teams had been provided safety assurances. 

“The sport has to stand together collectively,” he told Sky Sports F1. “Any act of terrorism cannot be condoned and sport shouldn’t be bullied… A situation like that isn’t acceptable. 

"Stefano and the president are dealing with it, there’s been all the assurance from the organisers and we’ll be going racing.” 

Also speaking to Sky, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff stated: “It was a good meeting. We as team principals we have been assured that we are protected here. [The circuit] is probably the safest place where you can be in Saudi Arabia at the moment.”