Formula 1 has issued a statement after a massive fire broke out near the Jeddah Grand Prix circuit in Saudi Arabia.
World champion Max Verstappen reported a burning smell, alerting his race engineer as the cars took to the track for the F1 weekend’s opening practice session.
The Jeddah Corniche circuit is hosting a round of the championship for the second time after debuting last season, but comes amid tight security for the race weekend.
Earlier in the week an attack on an oil depot in Jeddah was reported, and now a large fire has been seen at an Aramco facility 12 miles from the circuit near King Abdulaziz International Airport.
As the cars took to the track for the first free practice, Verstappen was heard on the team radio saying: “I feel a bit of a burning sensation.
“I don’t know if it’s my car or another car.”
Its engineer Gianpiero Lambiase replied: “We are happy that it is not your car.”
F1 has since released a statement on the fire, with a spokesperson saying: “We are awaiting further information from the authorities on what happened.”
Most Read in Motorsport
Lewis Hamilton not comfortable racing in Saudi Arabia, calls for changes
Hamilton became ‘stronger than ever’ losing title to Verstappen, says former team-mate
Saudi Arabia GP date: Start time, schedule, live stream and how to follow in the UK
2022 Formula 1 standings: Leclerc in the lead, Hamilton third, Verstappen’s disastrous start
‘This guy is crazy’ – F1 returns to Saudi Arabia where Hamilton v Verstappen peaked
F1 chief to speak to Netflix about Drive To Survive ‘dramatization’ claims
Teams and drivers have since been called to discuss the incident with track officials.
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc finished fastest in the opening session ahead of Verstappen, while Lewis Hamilton finished ninth for Mercedes.
The second race is due to take place at 5pm in the UK but could be delayed.