LONDON (AP) — The Formula E motorsport series is pressing ahead with plans to open its season in Saudi Arabia, even as global business leaders have suspended ties with the Gulf kingdom over the disappearance of a journalist.
Turkish officials say they fear Saudi agents killed and dismembered Jamal Khashoggi after he entered the consulate in Istanbul nearly two weeks ago. Khashoggi wrote columns in the Washington Post that were critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The alleged incident led to business executives and media companies pulling out of a major investment conference in Saudi Arabia this month.
But Formula E is not ready to pull out of Saudi Arabia, which will host the electric racing championship season opener on Dec. 15 in the outskirts of the capital Riyadh.
Formula E chief executive Alejandro Agag told The Associated Press on Monday that “referring to the incident, we obviously have no comment to make. At this moment there are no plans to change the Formula E calendar this season. Of course we are monitoring (the situation).”
Overshadowed by a horrific crash involving Sophia Floersch was the fact that 19-year-old Dan Ticktum dominated and won the Macau Grand Prix – a victory that puts him closer to earning the superlicence required to allow him to race with Formula 1, according to Yahoo! Sports.
Ticktum won Macau’s qualification race as well as the Grand Prix, starting first in both events. For his victories, he earned 10 points, which combined with 25 for his runner-up finish in the European F3 Championship leaves him just five below the 40 needed for the license.
This was Ticktum’s second Macau Grand Prix victory.
“It was a dominant performance that I was preparing for,” Ticktum said on his web site. “I don’t think I’ve ever prepared as hard as I did for this race and it all worked out. In the final race a lot of variables were thrown at me but I handled them.”
On his way to victory lane, Ticktum had to survive several restarts including the lengthy red flag period following Floersch’s accident to repair the barrier.
“I can’t count how many safety car restarts we had to do,” Ticktum said. “It puts a lot of pressure on a driver here with such a long run down to the first corner. I can’t remember a weekend when I’ve put it all together so well.
“The car was absolutely perfect all weekend, it was so good and I can’t thank Motopark enough for that. I’ve never been so involved in the set-up, felt so at one with the car as I did this weekend.”