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The qualification for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was marked by the elimination of the seven-time world champion, only number 16. The young German driver was subjected to a very violent track excursion.
Already plagued by concerns following the attacks by the Yemeni rebels Houthis, Saudi Arabia’s Formula 1 Grand Prix on Saturday was marked by the violent accident of Mick Schumacher (Haas) and Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) first pole position.
The son of 23-year-old Michael Schumacher was not injured, according to initial investigations conducted at the circuit’s medical center. The German was still being transported to a hospital for “precautionary checks”, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said, and will be lost on Sunday, his team said.
The young German was discharged from the hospital in the evening but will not start the Grand Prix this Sunday. Back at his hotel, Schumacher wrote on Instagram: “Hi everyone, just wanted to let you know that I’m fine. Thank you for your sweet messages. The car was great, we’ll be back stronger.”
For his part, the seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) was eliminated in the first phase of qualifying, the first time this has happened to him since the Brazilian GP in 2017. his car “to avoid suffering the same lack of aerodynamic support at. rear end during the race, with the consequence of having to start behind the peloton, from the pitlane.
That’s why Pérez, 32, and two F1 victories in 2020 and 2021, start in the lead on Sunday at 20 local time (19.00 Swiss), after beating Monegasque Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), winner of the season’s first event last week .
The Mexican has had the luxury of beating his Dutch teammate Max Verstappen as well. The world champion could not do better than the 4th without explaining why, and will share the second row with the other Ferrari driver, the Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jr.
Schumacher’s accident has revived concerns about a very fast and dense circuit where crashes are relentless and visibility is sometimes lacking.
This was not necessary after the Houthis attacked an oil depot about ten kilometers from the Jeddah orbit on Friday, on the eve of the seventh anniversary of the intervention of the military coalition led by Riyadh in Yemen, to support the government against the rebels. close to Iran It caused a giant fire visible from the track in free practice 1. The governing bodies of F1 announced the maintenance of the GP in the hours after, but the drivers discussed it until much later in the night from Friday to Saturday.
Finally, the final confirmation came at noon on Saturday, first from the championship organizers and then from the drivers’ union, whose safety concerns were apparently met.
“It may give the impression that we were worried about our safety, but it was for yours, the media, the mechanics, the spectators,” Spaniard Fernando Alonso (Alpine) explained Saturday night. “I think it’s a good decision,” Russell added. You have to trust the local authorities, and the organizers would not be there if it were not for sure. “
That does not mean that the debate stops around a general practitioner who is already controversial due to human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, where F1 settled last year. “I can not wait to leave,” Hamilton slipped as Verstappen launched: “We all decided to run, but after this weekend we will have to talk about the whole situation again”.
“It’s not us who’s in charge of the calendar,” but the F1 and FIA, although the teams are being consulted, reminded Jost Capito, head of Williams, a little earlier. “If discussions are to take place, it will be after the Grand Prix, not during, as long as we are safe.”
If the fold remained, a few followers still left Jeddah, including former German driver Ralf Schumacher, a consultant for his country’s television.
At the same time, not without consequences for the rest of the GP, a spokesman for the Houthi rebels announced on Saturday that the latter would suspend their offensives in Yemen and against Saudi Arabia for “three days”.