Ecclestone “wouldn’t send F1 somewhere unsafe” – Horner

2011 F1 season

Christian Horner, Red Bull, 2011

Christian Horner, Red Bull, 2011

Christian Horner said the decision about whether the teams will race in Bahrain is down to the the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone.

Speaking to journalists in Barcelona the day after chairing a meeting of the Formula One Teams’ Association Horner said: “I think it’s a very difficult situation.

“It’s a great shame, it’s always been a fantastic place to visit. Everyone has been looking forward to going to Bahrain.

“Obviously there’s the issues that are going on at the moment. It’s not really down to the teams to decide.

“We rely on Bernie, he has more information than we do. I’m sure he wouldn’t send F1 somewhere that was unsafe, but the decision rests with Bernie and the FIA, we will trust his judgement.”

He added that the pre-race test at Bahrain could be moved to a different circuit, including potentially another test at the Circuit de Catalunya. “The teams are involved with making the decision,” he said, adding, “Barcelona is a great place to test”.

Discussing the new Drag Reduction System, Horner said it couldn’t be judged a success until it had run in a race situation:

“There are some challenges. We reserve judgement on the new rear wing until we see it in action.

“It’s the same for everybody and F1 is always coming up with rules. It’s down to the teams to react and to respond to them. For sure it’s an interesting challenge and for sure it’s a complicated one too, more for the driver to be controlling. It’s more for the teams to decide the dynamics of the race.”

He added that he expects the adjustable rear wing and change of tyre supplier will produce more exciting races in 2011:

“We will see more pit stops which is something we were pushing for last year anyway. I think this is better for the spectators.

“I think the racing was exciting last year but I think it will be even more exciting this year.”

Although Horner said that “we plan to support our drivers both equally”, he admitted that the relaxing of the rules on team orders means the team could change its approach this year:

“The regulations have now changed, the way the strategies have changed, you may see the drivers working together a bit more.

“Principally, our approach doesn’t change. It’s what they do on the track, which is how it should be.

He called managing the two drivers “A nice headache to have.”

“We have two great drivers, they push each other hard. We allow them to race on the circuit, we treat them both equally. It’s down to what they do on the track.

“Obviously we want to avoid situations like Istanbul last year, which we managed in the second half of the year. We’ll continue to give them the same support in 2011.”

Quotes and additional reporting by Leandra Graves

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52 comments on Ecclestone “wouldn’t send F1 somewhere unsafe” – Horner

  1. pSynrg said on 19th February 2011, 13:22

    Christian Horner, surely you must know every man has his price and I suspect Bernie’s price, albeit a very high one, will be no different.

    • Andy W said on 19th February 2011, 14:50

      Whilst I do think that Bernie is there if the price is right, I don’t think there is enough money in Bahrain to deal with the mess that is going on.

      I also suspect that as much as the Royal Family love F1 and the prestige they think it has brung to their sandpit, they won’t want to push their luck by giving such an international window box to the protesters in their country. The event will draw huge protests and I doubt they would be able to stop that without going to such draconian lengths that they would draw international condemnation for them.

      I also suspect that Bahrain won’t be the only race to be affected by political unrest in the host nation this season… I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we don’t face threats of another 2-3 races being cancelled and protesting at many more race tracks….

      • Andy C said on 19th February 2011, 17:29

        The event will draw huge protests and I doubt they would be able to stop that without going to such draconian lengths that they would draw international condemnation for them

        I think if you see some of the videos of people being shot in the street, and being shot at from helicopters, they’ve left it a little late to consider whether draconian measures should be taken.

        • Andy W said on 19th February 2011, 21:18

          I am not in anyway downplaying what has happened, but there have been many worse atrocities committed by elites trying to hold onto power.

          My thoughts are more with the people of Bahrain and their desire to gain some control of their country than they are with the GP.

  2. Victor. said on 19th February 2011, 13:30

    It’s a great shame, it’s always been a fantastic place to visit.

    Well, now that people are having their heads smashed in it surely isn’t.

  3. Kimster said on 19th February 2011, 13:36

    No race in Bahrein means 2 weeks more without F1 :(

  4. Not just Bahrain is unsafe for everyone ( including f1 personel) due to the violent crackdowns, it is also immoral to think about racing there while innocent people are being killed by Shaik Kalifa`s brutal regime ! Now please guys, don`t say F1 should stay out of politics, because this is not just about politics, it is about oppressed fellow human beings demanding the basic human rights that we all take for granted in west ! To those of you interested in boycotting the race if it goes ahead, please join : http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bring-Moral-Accountability-to-Formula-1-Boycott-Bahrain-Grand-Prix/188401241200832

    • George (@george) said on 19th February 2011, 14:22

      F1 should stay out of politics. The F1 fraternity have nothing to worry about from the ‘brutal regime’, if they’re going to get into trouble it will be from the poor ‘oppressed fellow human beings’.

      • Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 19th February 2011, 15:22

        Yeah, ‘cos it’s the ‘poor oppressed human beings’ driving the tanks and firing the machine guns…

        • George (@george) said on 19th February 2011, 15:32

          Well it’s pretty easy to avoid getting shot, just dont join the protests. If I had to choose between the security forces or an angry mob I know where I’d feel safer…

          • Easy for who? The F1 personnel? We don’t know where really is safe or how the situation will be by the time of the GP weekend.

            The people of Bahrain? It’s not just about what is safe. They’re protesting for change and their rights. Ok they could stay away but what sort of choice is that? Safety or standing up for their rights? There shouldn’t be a risk of getting shot for that.

          • xtophe (@xtophe) said on 19th February 2011, 16:03

            I doubt the journalists that were threatened by the Egyptian ‘security forces’ would agree.

            It would make perfect sense to hinder the F1-circus, which is there by grace of money spent by the royal family of Bahrain. I doubt however they would ‘attack’. Looking at how things went down in Egypt and Tunisia, protesters welcomed foreign media so they could make their cause known to the world. If anything, the regime itself has more to win by not having cameras aimed at Bahrain right now.

          • I don’t quite think you have fully grasped the situation. :/

          • Andy W said on 19th February 2011, 21:26

            these people are protesting for the right to be involved in the running of their country, they wanting to see the back of a regime they find oppressive. If you deny their right to do so then… speak volumes about you.

            From what I have seen and read it was the army that opened fire, presumably under orders from the royal family. The angry mob are angry because they have been attacked and brutalized… and to be honest much as I support one side of the other I wouldn’t want to be caught up with either side…. there are many desperate people in Bahrain and desperate people sometimes….

          • George (@george) said on 19th February 2011, 22:13

            As I said, the politics are unimportant, this is Bernie we’re talking about. Whether it goes ahead or not will depend on the security, and I think that will be fine.

      • Well, “staying out of politics” by insisting on holding the GP is a much bigger political statement than staying away. F1 would be seen as aligned with the regime and the F1 fraternity would deserve all the scorn that it would get.

        Why would you want to be on the side of a “brutal regime” anyway? Just stay away altogether and you won’t put yourself in harm’s way.

  5. Nothing to see here. Bernie says the Bahrainis are just a bit more spirited in how they sell t-shirts.

  6. As a fan of both Lewis and Jenson I find myself in a difficult position. Bahrain own 30% of McLaren and as such I feel I cannot lend my support to the team by purchasing merchandise knowing that a portion of what I spend will go to a regime that feels it is ok to fire live rounds at it’s population.

    As title sponsor, Vodaphone should also be considering their own position, and put pressure on the team to distance themselves from this regime.

    • Shimks said on 19th February 2011, 14:27

      That’s a very interesting point, Ady. Thanks for that.

    • DeadManWoking said on 19th February 2011, 14:32

      Bahrain actually owns 42% of the F1 team and 50% of McLaren Automotive.

      He said with Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company having a 42 per cent stake in McLaren Group as well as a 50pc stake in McLaren Automotive, Bahrain is considered a home away from home by the company.

      http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=275685

      • Then this is quite a sobering moment for McLaren. These are not small holdings. Maybe they should find a way to buy back some of the shares and float them on the market, like Williams.

      • I didn’t realise it was that much, just goes to show wikipedia isn’t always right.

        • DeadManWoking said on 19th February 2011, 17:54

          It was 30% initially but they increased their share when Mercedes sold back the remainder of it’s 40% stake in the team. Bahrain owned half of McLaren Automotive right from it’s beginnings.

        • Can’t really blame Wikipedia on this one to be honnest. The contract they send to their new employees states that Daimler owns 40%, and Mumtalakat 30%. It also lists the possibility to buy a DaimlerChrysler at a favourable rate…

    • Andy C said on 19th February 2011, 17:39

      Got to say I feel exactly the same. The worst thing is that the royal family itself has effectively hosted the GP allowing people to stay at the royal palace, so any F1 race would be wildly inappropriate in my view.

      The whole bahrain GP is a vanity exercise, as are most of the other new GPs (IMHO).

      If it goes ahead I wont be watching.

      What I will say as a westerner is, I have always been frustrated that that western governments have been supporting these regimes for many years (Egypt,Bahrain etc) so now condemning them is slightly hypocritical in my view.

      And that doesnt mean I support what these countries leaders have done or are doing.

  7. kowalsky said on 19th February 2011, 15:30

    the world is changing, but bernie is happy with the status quo. Money coming in all the time no matter the place.
    I think you lost here bernie. Like with slavica.
    bernie 1000
    slavica 1
    human rights 1

  8. Scribe (@scribe) said on 19th February 2011, 15:41

    The latest news and pictures from the reigon come close to suggesting pitched battles are being run up and down the country. It’s certainly not safe enough for a race now and regardless of the morale objections, Bernie’s current tactic seems to be to assure it’ll all be fine, to assure his partners but it’s not looking a likley race.

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 19th February 2011, 18:16

      With the travel advisories in place, as a few have pointed out, the teams’ insurance (as well as FOM’s and the FIA’s) will be null and void if they decide to travel their on their own. There’s no way it’s gonna happen.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 19th February 2011, 22:43

        I perfectly understand why Horner says this. But to state Bernie knows more then them, …

        From what he has been saying (and getting his “inside info” from 2 GP2 officials being there in a hotel room) Bernie has taken car not to be shown any recent reports of the situation.

  9. HounslowBusGarage said on 19th February 2011, 16:40

    I’m not sure it’s Bernie’s decision any more. If the insurance companies withdraw their cover (or quadruple the premiums) for the teams and the event, FOM won’t have any choice.

  10. PeriSoft said on 19th February 2011, 16:52

    We rely on Bernie…

    Well, there’s your first mistake…

  11. Judging by some of the news coming out of Bahrain, I dont think there is much hope of the race going ahead. But on the upside, the F1 season will start with Melbourne again! :D

  12. RedGreen said on 19th February 2011, 22:48

    Regarding this ‘F1 and politics don’t mix’ argument…

    The Bahrain Grand Prix only exists because the Bahraini ruling class wishes to project a positive image to the outside world, ‘open for business’ etc.

    F1 is a high-cost, high-revenue business. Those kinds of businesses do not exist in a political vacuum. Kids playing soccer on a patch of grass is purely apolitical sport. Formula 1 is not apolitical sport, and it is highly disingenuous to argue otherwise.

    Like it or not, Bernie Ecclestone will give a Grand Prix to whoever quotes him the highest price. Morals do not come into it, it’s a purely commercial decision.

    For F! to stage what is essentially a circus in a nation that is brutally and murderously suppressing peaceful protests would be shameful. I enjoy F1 for the spectacle, and I’ve never pretended it is any kind of moral force, but the idea of holding a race in Bahrain turns my stomach.

    (As an aside, regarding Ecclestone’s remark about F1 “never ever being involved in (religion and) politics”, doesn’t anyone remember that 1 million pound donation to the Labour government in 1997, just before they granted an exemption for tobacco advertising in F1? “Never ever” my you-know-what.

    • Pink Pirelli said on 20th February 2011, 0:20

      I agree. Sport and politics are uneasy bedfellows, but bedfellows they are. This “F1 should stay out of politics” argument is spurious at the least, and demonstrates more a desire on behalf of the poster to be an ostrich, than to express any real opinion on the matter.

  13. RedGreen said on 19th February 2011, 23:19

    Here is why the Bahrain race should be cancelled. (Previously posted on another thread, caution: disturbing content)

  14. RedGreen said on 19th February 2011, 23:20

    Here is stark reason why the Bahrain race must be cancelled. (Previously posted on another thread, caution: disturbing content)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwnUQcKXmMM&feature=player_embedded&skipcontrinter=1

    • Pink Pirelli said on 20th February 2011, 0:25

      I just watched that, and I am horrified. Absolutely appalled. The Bahraini people have my support 100% to get rid of such a corrupt and despicble regime.

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