Formula 1 is awaiting further information regarding the nature of a fire at a nearby Aramco fuel facility that ignited just before the beginning of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend.
With drivers heading out for FP1, black smoke permeated through the F1 paddock and across the track due to the proximity of the fire.
The smoke prompted Max Verstappen to report a burning smell while he drove around, with his engineer replying: "We are happy it's not your car."
No official confirmation as to the cause of the fire has been forthcoming, although the possibility of it being a malicious attack is present – a missile strike last weekend caused a fire at an Aramco fuel distribution centre in Jeddah.
F1 "waiting for further information"
With F1 visiting Jeddah this weekend for the second-ever Saudi Arabian GP, there are obvious safety concerns if the fire has occurred as a result of malicious intent.
As it stands, F1 is seeking clarity regarding what happened at the facility. RacingNews365.com understands that the official position from F1 is to wait for further information from local authorities.
All the F1 drivers and teams were seen gathering in the paddock ahead of Friday evening's second free practice session, meeting with F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali in the main offices.
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Start to second practice delayed
Following the meeting, the start of the second practice session was delayed by 15 minutes to allow the drivers time to return to the garages and prepare to head out on track.
It is not yet clear what steps might be taken if the fire was caused maliciously, although an increase in security at the venue is to be expected.
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