Ferrari's Mattia Binotto: A driver boycott in Saudi Arabia would not have been right

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia -- Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said it would have been wrong for Formula One's drivers to boycott Sunday's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and leave the country in response to a missile attack 10 km from the circuit on Friday.

On Friday evening, F1's 20 drivers held a four-hour meeting in which they discussed the possibility of boycotting the race after a Houthi missile strike on a nearby Aramco oil depot during the opening practice session.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, F1 executives and team bosses managed to convince the drivers that sufficient security measures were in place for the race to go ahead safely.

"The drivers met together and certainly they were concerned," Binotto said. "After the facts of yesterday, no doubt all of us were concerned.

"The concerns need to be translated into considerations and discussions, and as we as teams had assurance from F1 and from the Saudi government authorities and security agencies that everything would have been safe and under control.

"That was needed to be explained to the drivers, explained to them the situation, make them understand that we are safe and secured, and I think after long discussions, which is important to have in a transparent way, I think they understood and supported the fact that it is important to stay and remain in Saudi and drive for the weekend.

"Leaving the country would simply not have been the right choice. I think there was no right reason to leave the country after the facts that happened and with the assurance that we get.

"They met, they had their own concerns, they raised them, but I think altogether we got the right assurances and explanations as well."

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl said it was important for the voices of all the drivers to be heard as well as those of team members working in other roles.

"Our drivers are the heroes of the sport and it is important they have a voice that is right for the sport they are in and therefore it makes absolutely sense that they have these discussions between them," he said.

"At the same time, it was also important to share our different views on what happened yesterday and that's what happened.

"In the end, we all came to the same conclusion that it is right to continue with the weekend after we got the assurances that we are safe here. Let's not forget, it's not just about drivers and the team principles, it's about 2000 team members of the F1 paddock here and we had to make the right decision together with F1 and the FIA, for all of us."

Five team principals appeared in Saturday's news conference ahead of final practice and all of them said they had received assurances from Saudi Arabian authorities and security agencies about the safety of the race.

"We had quite a few [meetings with] high-ranked authorities yesterday, and they explained us the situation," Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack said.

"They explained it to us in a very credible way and it made all the ten of us in the room confident that they take their responsibility very seriously."

Williams team boss Jost Capito added: "There was also another defence person not from here [Saudi Arabia], but another country, who looked into that independently and looked into everything to make sure we would have a safe event."

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said he felt reassured by members of the Saudi Arabian government bringing their families to the race.

"They explained very credibly what [security] was in place," Steiner added. "The details, the technical details, I don't think that I am in a position to explain them, because I am not qualified enough.

"There is stuff in place that protects us, obviously, but for me to explain that ... I'm an amateur in that so it would be an opinion and not an explanation.

"But the credible explanation of what they are doing and that they have their families here with them, that gives me the assurance that I'm safe and that my team is safe."