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Haas Formula 1 driver will miss Sunday’s race.
The F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and the Jeddah Corniche Circuit joined Formula 1’s schedule in 2021 and it already has something of a reputation—and not necessarily in a positive way. And that’s not to do with the dubious country in which it is located.
It is extremely fast, has concrete walls lining the track, and several of the flat-out corners are blind.
On-track qualifying stretched over two hours Saturday and featured a violent weekend-ending accident for Mick Schumacher, a shock early exit for Lewis Hamilton, and a surprise maiden pole for Sergio Perez.
Haas’ Schumacher was pushing on his Q2 lap in qualifying when he lost control over the Turn 11 exit curb. That pitched his VF-22 car into a violent collision with the wall, before bouncing across the track for a secondary impact.
Hi everyone, I just wanted to say that I’m ok🙏
Thank you for the kind messages.
The car felt great @haasf1team, we’ll come back stronger❤️ pic.twitter.com/Mwpy0767kN
Schumacher was tended to by medical crews and taken by ambulance to the medical center, where fortunately no injuries were detected. He was able to phone his mother, Corinna, to pass on the good news.
Schumacher was subsequently airlifted to King Fahad Armed Forces Hospital in Jeddah for precautionary check-ups given the violent nature of the impact. He was later released and back at the team hotel.
Such was the damage to Schumacher’s car, and the manner in which debris scattered the circuit, that qualifying was suspended for almost an hour.
After qualifying Haas confirmed that it had taken the decision not to field Schumacher in Sunday’s race and will instead only enter Kevin Magnussen.
Mick Schumacher will miss the Saudi Arabian GP after a huge accident in qualifying.
That Mick is physically well after the crash is another reminder of the strength and safety of modern F1 cars for which we are incredibly thankful#SaudiArabianGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/qhLcw0elb7
“The best thing is that Mick has apparently no injuries, he’s in the hospital right now and being evaluated by the doctors, so he is in good hands at the moment,” said Haas team boss Guenther Steiner.
“There is a possibility that he’ll have to stay for observation overnight at the hospital. Based on these facts and where we are, we have decided not to field his car tomorrow.”
Threats of a driver boycott, following an attack on a nearby Aramco facility on Friday, were avoided in the early hours of Saturday morning when a three-hour long meeting between all 20 racers reached a resolution.
Drivers were given assurances over their safety by Formula 1 and senior figures from Saudi Arabia’s government and the weekend program was given approval to continue as planned.
Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali explained on Saturday evening that “you need to divide the emotion with the rational aspect of it, try to manage all the information you have to try to make the right assessment.”
“We will never be in a situation that can jeopardize the safety of our people.”
He reiterated that Formula 1 is “playing a very important role in the modernization of this country” and dismissed accusations that the series is prioritizing commercial considerations over moral values.
Domenicali’s viewpoint was reinforced by Mercedes’ George Russell, who is one of the two active directors of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, the body that represents all current racers. The other director, Sebastian Vettel, is not present at Jeddah due to COVID-19.
“I do think it’s the right decision,” said Russell on continuing to race. “I don’t have all the answers. I’m not an expert in politics, or military defense or whatever, you know, so you have to trust in the people around. The organizers wouldn’t be here if they didn’t think it was safe to do so, the royal family wouldn’t be here, if they didn’t think we’re safe to do so. That gives us confidence that they are here. So we’ve got to trust in the people around us. I trust in Formula 1, in Stefano, and here we are.”
Russell described the drivers’ three-hour meeting as “brilliant” and “we were all willing to stick as one—and I think that’s great to see. Not just with an issue like this but any further issues.”
Try and try again. And again and again. And so forth. In fact, it has been quite a few tries for Perez to take pole position.
Nobody in Formula 1 history has started as many Grands Prix as Sergio Perez. He has long been known as someone who can star on Sunday but is too frequently subdued on Saturday.
Finally, at the 215th time of asking, Perez topped qualifying. A spectacular lap enabled Perez to snatch it away from Charles Leclerc by a mere 0.025 second. With Carlos Sainz third, and usual strong qualifier Max Verstappen struggling with tires in fourth, it sealed the deal for Perez.
Perez has the record for most race starts before a win in Formula 1—at 190—and now he has the same record for longest wait before pole. Good things come to those who wait. And who work hard.
“I can do 1,000 laps and I don’t think I can improve this lap time,” Perez said. “There’s no other circuit like this. If I can get pole here, I can get pole anywhere, this is definitely the most demanding place to get the perfect lap, the level of risk and precision around this place is just tremendous.”