Even life in the Formula 1 paddock is no longer “fun”.
That was the downbeat assessment of Red Bull’s 78-year-old Austrian official Dr Helmut Marko after hours of meetings that ultimately cleared the Saudi Arabian GP to be “safe” despite nearby missile strikes.
“We have the pandemic, we have the war in Europe and now we have a missile attack 20 kilometres away,” he said.
“It’s no longer normal and fun anymore.”
Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher appears to agree, with reports suggesting he took the unilateral decision to abandon his Sky Deutschland duties to return home.
“It’s only 20 kilometres away,” said the German.
“If it really is an attack, then I’m really surprised what we are still doing here. We should pack up as soon as possible and leave a country like that.”
Schumacher, whose nephew Mick drives for Haas, admitted that Formula 1 would have come under immense pressure from the Saudi race organisers and Aramco, the state Saudi oil company that also sponsors Aston Martin.
“First of all, I have to make it clear that I am an expert on Formula 1 and not on insurance or business or politics. I think the pressure on Formula 1 is enormous,” he said.
“There is a very, very large amount of money being paid and there is a long-term contract. Now the discussion is that the Saudi government is saying that they will ensure that it is safe. That means F1 can’t just pull the ripcord.
“I think that’s the problem,” Schumacher added. “I have a clear opinion on it and I’ve made my decision. But of course everyone has to do it for themselves.”