Start, Bahrain, 2010

??Bahrain Crown Prince will decide if race happens? ?ǣ Ecclestone

2011 Bahrain Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Start, Bahrain, 2010
Start, Bahrain, 2010

Bernie Ecclestone has said he will leave it up to the Crown Prince of Bahrain to decide whether next month’s season-opening race goes ahead.

Ecclestone told the BBC:

“He will know whether it’s safe for us to be there.

“I’ve no idea. I’m not there, so I don’t know. We won’t advise people to go unless it’s safe.”

The Crown Prince is the son of Bahrain’s king Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifah.

Protests against the country’s ruling monarchy in recent days have seen several fatalities as the police have fired live rounds at the demonstrators.

Update: Many of you know F1 Fanatic reader LAK, who lives in Bahrain. Make sure you read LAK’s view on the situation in the forum here: A Bahraini F1F, the Bahrain GP and how we see it.

2011 Bahrain Grand Prix

Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images

125 comments on “??Bahrain Crown Prince will decide if race happens? ?ǣ Ecclestone”

  1. Horner: “its up to Bernie, he’s got more info then us”
    Bernie: “its up to the Prince to decide, he’s got more info than us”

    Talk about covering your behind.

    Its like saying “whatever happens ain’t my fault!”

    1. Horner I agree with, Bernie… sorry but you are just trying to weasel out of making a decision.

      Bernie has spent most of the last 25 years becoming and cementing his place as the F1 Circus master, as he often makes clear its his show, he is the person who makes the deals about who hosts and who looses the races on the calendar… Bahrain is obviously not in any shape to host an F1 GP the political situation on the ground is just to volatile, bringing in the worlds media will only make the mess worse.

      If Bernie sees his job as protecting the best interests of the sport then this race needs to be cancelled, if he is prepared to have the blood of innocents on his hands and support the regime that the people of Bahrain are trying to oust…. then…. he should leave F1 and go into politics.

      1. The teams are part of F1, F1 is there or isn’t there. Bernie is just being political and lazy and choosing not to do anything. He doesn’t want to be seen as abandoning (maybe due to some contractual obligation).

        Hopefully they wont go.

      2. Have you read LAK’s post on the forum? That is not what is going on. The vast majority of people in Bahrain do not want regime change – merely a change of Prime-Minister.

        And while I deplore the violence that went on, it’s not like we haven’t had violent protests in the UK – should we lose the British GP thanks to a bunch of students protesting over fees? I know it’s not exactly the same, but then it would have been so easy for someone to have been killed in those protests and then things spiral out of control.

      3. He has been in politics for a very long time.

    2. “you were following me?? I was following Flanders!”

      Simpsons again working fine in the real world.

    3. It’s all down to money, Ecclestone wants his pound of flesh and the Prince wants the good publicity that an F1 race would give.
      Does F1 really want to be associated with somebody who ordered troops to fire on unarmed men women and children?

      1. Now that you talked about money, i do wonder if there isn’t a game of chicken played between the teams and Bernie.
        If the event gets canceled by the FIA and FOM Bernie has to pay the teams even as if it happened. But if the teams refuse to go because they feel unsafe then i wonder if he can refuse paying-up.

        Maybe they both try to play it till the end, hoping that the other will back down from the event first.

        But if the prince says it’s not possible to happen the i wonder what are the paying responsibilities of Bernie?

        Hmmm… We may have some games played with money here.

  2. What a cop-out.

    1. thatscienceguy
      20th February 2011, 11:39

      So the US government says its dangerous to go to Bahrain. The UK government says its dangerous to go to Bahrain. The Australian government says its dangerous to go to Bahrain. The French, German and Swedish governments probably say the same.

      But Bernie is relying on the guy who will be desperate to show the world that the country is safe and secure under his stewardship about whether F1 should go there.

      Gee, I wonder what the answer will be.

  3. This isn’t Bernie passing the buck. It’s something else entirely. It’s a typically Bernie move to get what he wants, which is what he considers to be the best thing for the sport. The Crown Prince will be very careful in what he does because Bahrain has been under intense international scrutiny for days. He won’t green-light the Grand Prix unless he is absolutely confident that the situation is – at the very least – stable because the race will be the first international event held in the country once the protests die down. If the Crown Prince were to allow the race to take place without the situation working towards a resolution, it would be very emabrrassing for Bahrain. This isn’t Bernie passing the buck – it’s Bernie challenging the Crown Prince to get his house in order.

    1. But the Crown Prince’s house is not in order. Safety is not really the point. Taking an international sporting event into Bahrain after events of recent days is not right.

      Moreover, the situation is so fluid. If a decision is made on Tuesday, it can’t reasonably be expected there will be a good forecast for the situation on Wednesday, much less than on March 13.

      1. But the Crown Prince’s house is not in order.

        I’m sorry, but you missed the point. Bahrain might not be in order now, but Bernie is challenging the Crown Prince to get the country to a point where it is in order. By allowing the Grand Prix to go ahead, the Crown Prince would be endorsing his own country to the world, saying “Come on in guys, it’s safe now”. He has to balance his desire to see the race against the state of the nation. Bernie has positioned the Grand Prix in such a way that it is a litmus test for the true state of the country. If the race goes ahead and Bahrain is in a serviceable condition, then it is proof that order is being restored. But if the race goes ahead and there is still trouble afoot, the Bahrain government will have shown themselves to be incapable of governing their own country because they will have given the go-ahead to a major international event without verifying that they have their own country under control, which will not only be incredibly embarrassing for them, but it will also be a massive endorsement of the protestors.

        1. I’m sorry, but you missed the point. Bahrain might not be in order now, but Bernie is challenging the Crown Prince to get the country to a point where it is in order.

          LOL, yeah Bernie the humanitarian, fighting for the people.

          No PM, Bernie said that because then the decision’s heavy burden doesn’t rest on his shoulders.

          1. No PM, Bernie said that because then the decision’s heavy burden doesn’t rest on his shoulders.

            You know, this argument would carry more weight if Bernie didn’t have a history of willingly making difficult decisions. Like, for example, relocating the British Grand Prix from Silverstone to Donington despite pressure from fans and lobby groups because the Silverstone circuit wasn’t up to the standard he expected (after all, the Silverstone pits were some of the worst on the calendar and had been for years).

          2. I guarantee its a situation along the lines of;

            If Bernie cancelled Bahrain would not have to pay him, whereas if the prince cancelled they still would.

            This is a completely money driven piece of delegation.

          3. You know, this argument would carry more weight if Bernie didn’t have a history of willingly making difficult decisions. Like, for example, relocating the British Grand Prix from Silverstone to Donington despite pressure from fans and lobby groups because the Silverstone circuit wasn’t up to the standard he expected (after all, the Silverstone pits were some of the worst on the calendar and had been for years).

            I think your eagerness to win arguements online is clouding your judgement there PM, when it comes to venues, he’s all about the money, Donnington was willing to pay the fee’s, thats all.

            Making more money is not a difficult decision, thats not politics, thats business.

            Whats happening in Bahrain is politics, and Bernie is distancing himself from the hoohaa.

            I mean no offense to the people of Bahrain when I say their predicament is “hoohaa”, I just couldn’t find the right words.

          4. when it comes to venues, he’s all about the money, Donnington was willing to pay the fee’s, thats all.

            Bernie had been riding Silverstone for years to up their game. Their pit complex was in appalling condition, and they made virtually no move to improve it. Every time upgrades were planned, something came up and they got pushed back. I guess Bernie finally ran out of patience, and when the contract was up, he decided not to renew it because Damon Hill and the BRDC had been jerking him around for too long.

            Or do you think it’s just coincidence that Silverstone announced a major circuit reconfiguration and unveiled plans for a brand-new pit complex when they got the race back?

          5. That’s hardly a show of good faith in my opinion.
            It’s what should have been done in the first place.

          6. I find myself agreeing with PM for a change, the whole situation is more complex than it looks at first sight. As far as giving the Crown Prince the decision goes, well he will know far better than Bernie how the situation is.

            Peaceful protests tend to fizzle out after a couple of weeks, it’s reasonably likely that unless there is a full blown armed revolt the situation will have calmed by mid-march.

          7. Or do you think it’s just coincidence that Silverstone announced a major circuit reconfiguration and unveiled plans for a brand-new pit complex when they got the race back?

            I like how your sidestepping the issue of, you know, whats happening in Bahrain.

            Silverstones Pit complex has nothing to do with how Bernie is acting over this political issue.

          8. That’s hardly a show of good faith in my opinion.
            It’s what should have been done in the first place.

            Actually, the initial reaction was not altogether unreasonable. Please, hear me out on this one:

            Before the protests began in Bahrain, there had already been two major revolutuions going on. First in Tunisia, and then in Egypt. Both resulted in leaders being deposed. In addition, similar movements were spreading like wildfire across North Africa and the Middle East. It is not altogether inconceivable that some people in the Bahrain protests were simply looking for revolution for the sake of revolution, having witnessed the events that transpired in Cairo and Tunis.

            Now, I’m not saying that Manama’s response to the protests was completely justified, particularly when it came to killing protestors. However, there is a reason why we don’t do things by mob justice. If we stormed government buildings every time we didn’t like something a government just did, we’d never get anything done because someone would always be storming a building somewhere.

            In the event of a political uprising, the most appropriate response would be a display of non-lethal force measured against the level of violence. Start with police blockades and eventually move up towards the use of tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets. The idea is not to quell the uprising by beating them down, but to demonstrate that violence is not going to solve anything. Show the protestors that a diplomatic resolution benefits all parties. However, you cannot simply sit down and talk things over straight away for the same reason that you cannot storm the nearest government building. In this respect, the Bahrain governmnet failed, but crowd control tactics are an accepted way of dealing with rioters. Or did you not see the student protests in London a few months ago?

          9. I like how your sidestepping the issue of, you know, whats happening in Bahrain.

            Silverstones Pit complex has nothing to do with how Bernie is acting over this political issue.

            Actually, it has everything to do with the situation. Bernie is in the habit of putting race organisers in a position where they must make a decision that will decide their future. They can either meet his demands and keep their race, or they ca go their own way and lose it.

            In the case of Silverstone, Bernie demanded better facilities for all, particularly in the pits. The BRDC had to decide whether they wanted to keep the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, and if they did, then they had to work towards improving their facilities. If they did not wish to upgrade, then they would lose the race.

            Here, it’s slightly different, but it’s essentially the same thing: the Crown Prince has to decide whether his country is in a state where they can reasonably hold a Grand Prix. If he believes it is, then he has to show as much. If not, then he cannot host the race.

          10. You always love to roll out this discredited chestnut.

            Fact is it would have been financial suicide for the BRDC to have invested in Silverstone with the short-term deals Bernie gave them on convenient grounds. Fact is Bernie just wanted to do one over the BRDC, a political powerhouse in British motor racing. Unfortunately for him he did a deal with Donington Del Boy that fell through and Silverstone forced his hand. A similar thing has happened with Bahrain; in following greed and ambition, Bernie is now in a corner.

            Your argument holds no weight. He is passing the buck to avoid losing his blood money if it doesn’t go ahead.

        2. it’s Bernie challenging the Crown Prince to get his house in order.

          I see where you’re coming from. However, I’m not too fond of them getting the house in order by shooting innocent people.

          1. I’m not too fond of them getting the house in order by shooting innocent people.

            They’ve said overnight that they want to talk to the protestors. They’r withdrawing from the Pearl Roundabout as a sign of good faith. I posted as much in today’s roundup, but it largely went ignored.

        3. I’m sorry, but you missed the point. Bahrain might not be in order now, but Bernie is challenging the Crown Prince to get the country to a point where it is in order. By allowing the Grand Prix to go ahead, the Crown Prince would be endorsing his own country to the world, saying “Come on in guys, it’s safe now”. He has to balance his desire to see the race against the state of the nation. Bernie has positioned the Grand Prix in such a way that it is a litmus test for the true state of the country.

          I get precisely what you mean, PM. And I think I agree.

        4. Here, it’s slightly different, but it’s essentially the same thing: the Crown Prince has to decide whether his country is in a state where they can reasonably hold a Grand Prix. If he believes it is, then he has to show as much. If not, then he cannot host the race.

          The reason he does that is because if he cancels he loses money, if the race organisers cancel they have to pay him a cancelation fee.

          1. *Longest F1F comment argument in recent memory*

          2. *Longest F1F comment argument in recent memory*

            LOL, yeah its good fun though, its not like a normal flame war on the internets were people just randomly insults each other.

            We are respectful to each other.

        5. PM, the protesters were peacefully calling for reforms to actually make the democtratically elected parliament have a political voice in things.

          It turned out of hand and into calls to oust the regime only when said regime/its security forces panicked into mugging, shooting and beating up everyone close to the protestors. Including medics trying to treat them.

          As for Silverstone. Would you invest in a track without any long term view on weather you would have a chance of making a ROI? Thats why they invested immediately when having a long term contract.

        6. And my point was that there is simply no way for the country to be “in order” in three weeks. The protesters won’t stop for less than comprehensive reform, absent a further crackdown. There is no way that process is completed in three weeks, even if the protest phase is over.

          And, anyway, the Bahrani government doesn’t deserve the prestige of a major international sporting event days after sending troops into break up a peaceful protest.

    2. GMacGregor (@)
      20th February 2011, 10:42

      This could be true in another kind of country, but sadly it isn’t the case in Bahrain.

      The Bahraini monarchy is not only a despotic tyranny, but it is also immensely childish. The Bahrain GP was never about improving the country’s perception worldwide, increasing tourism and bringing in some cash at the same time. The GP is a toy for them, an endeavour to improve their status, similar to how the spoiled rich kids at school insist on getting the coolest things so they can show them off to their classmates.

      They did not do this for the country, they did it for themselves, make no mistake. The Crown Prince will say YES, of this I am sure. He won’t let some (in his eyes) pesky ingrates spoil his treat.

      1. The Crown Prince will say YES, of this I am sure.

        Even if the condition in the country is so poor that welcoming the race with open arms and enjoying it would prove to be such an immense embarrassment to his country that the protestors would likely storm the parliament building and depose every last politician in it?

        You make the mistake of assuming that just because a ruler is a “despotic tyrant”, he is also a complete moron.

    3. Read far too much into this I think mate. I do think it’s a simple ‘buck passing’.

      1. Go back and look at some of the other things Bernie has done to get circuits to fall in line. Most notably Silverstone. Go back over them and tell me that you don’t see similarities in what he is doing. Bernie’s entire m.o. is based on getting circuits to do exactly what he wants whilst making them think it was their idea all along.

        1. I just love how you are comparing the situation with Silverstone and the BRDC with Bahrain and the tyranic rule of the royalty.

          Oh yeah, it’s really the same.

          No, Bernie relationship with the BRDC is totally different to his relationship with the King of Bahrain, and his handling of this situation is totally in regards to that. Bernie doesn’t have the balls to stand up to the King and his family (unlike the BRDC), therefore he is simply passing the buck. Otherwise, contractually, this is going to cost Bernie a huge load of dosh and we know how important that is to the wee scrote. Likewise with the teams, they are not (at present) going to speak in the face of their contracts.

          In time, we will find out who really has balls, and boycotts the place.

          However, none of this is really important, what matters is the people of Bahrain and our support of them.

          1. Don’t really want to get involved in this spat, but as I have said in previous posts:

            F1 should not be in this position in the first place. The crown prince should not have to opportunity to use F1, a sport, as a bargaining tool to sort things out, plain and simple (i.e. if you don’t stop protesting we won’t get F1).

            PM this is where your argument is very flawed. F1 should not be used as a bargaining tool in any way. Also, your knowledge of the personal thoughts and personality of the crown prince, his relationship to Bernie seems very personal, I did not know you had met them, had any dealings with them or had such a deep understanding of the socio-economic politics of Bahrain and the surrounding area.

            F1 should not be dealing with authoritarian regimes in the first place, as if things go wrong (which they have) things get messy.

        2. If he was treating this situation the same as Silverstone then he’s even more of an egomaniac than we all thought, believing he has the power to fix the situation simply by suggesting its the crown princes best interests to make a decision based on the state of the country. Although, I wouldn’t put Bernie past this, I think it’s more likely he’s weaseling out, and I hope for the sake of the teams, tourists and journalists that the crown prince makes the right decision.

    4. I agree with PM although I think it is passing the buck but not because of weakness but because he’s a shrewd businessman and trying to get the best outcome for F1. Either the situation improves for F1 to take place or the Crown Prince calls it off first and (possibly) is the one to break the contract.

    5. it’s Bernie challenging the Crown Prince to get his house in order.

      Didn’t you say something along the lines of ‘F1 and politics shouldn’t mix’?? :P

      1. Calling a billionaire businessman weak doesn’t really add up. See it like Steph, he is forcing the Crown Prince into breaking the contract. If the Crown Prince does the unlikely and doesn’t there is nothing to stop Bernie then just coming up with advice from someone else and backing out of it with the penalties.

    6. It’s a typically Bernie move to get what he wants, which is what he considers to be the best thing for the sport.

      I’ve been trying to think of an appropriate response to this, but I don’t think that written language can possibly express the interstellar absurdity of that statement. It has left me as incredulous as my mind will allow me to comprehend, and – remarkably – outclassed the wrongheadedness of Mr. Ecclestone’s self-professed admiration for tyrants, his description of pro-democracy activism as “making a fuss”, and leaving a delicate and dangerous decision to a man with the biggest possible vested interest in making the -wrong- decision.

      As the saying goes – “I’ll have what he’s having.”

  4. Well the British government have said it isn’t safe, but of course that obviously wasn’t the response Bernie wanted, so he now goes to the person with a vested interest in the race going ahead. This is a new low, even for him.

    Seeing as the government’s warning could void the teams’ insurance I would be surprised if they go whatever the Crown Prince says.

    1. Two things:

      1) The teams have aready said they’ll do what FOM does.

      2) The situation in Bahrain has improved. The King has allowed the protestors to occupy the Pearl Roundabout and the Crown Prince has withdrawn all security forces from the area with explicit instructions that they are not to encroach upon the area held by the protestors. It’s a show of good faith to kick-start negotiations.

      1. @PM – and you don’t think that it is not just a little crass to stage a GP here just weeks after protestors have been shot in the head the streets?

        No I don’t suppose you do.

        1. The only way a race can go ahead is if the protests end. The only way the protests can end if if negotiation is successful. The only way negotiation can be successful is if the government bows to some of the demands set forth by the protestors. So don’t think of it as a race in a country where protestors were shot and killed. Think of it as a race in a country that has undergone a revolution and come out the better for it, the first major sporting event in a New Bahrain.

          1. Except it’s not the first major sporting even in a ‘new Bahrain’. It will be a sporting event organised years ago that has gone ahead because the powers that be want it to go ahead anyway.

            Its proximity to these horrifying events is purely cicumstancial in that case. I highly doubt that most ordinary Bahrainis will be overjoyed by an event that would exclude all but 1% of the country.

          2. Except it’s not the first major sporting even in a ‘new Bahrain’. It will be a sporting event organised years ago that has gone ahead because the powers that be want it to go ahead anyway.

            It’s statements like this that make me believe you’re one of thsoe people who simply doesn’t want a Bahrain Grand Prix and has latched onto the protests as a means to fulfilling that end. Nothing will satisfy you short of cancelling the race outright, even if the government and the protestors got together and said “We’ve come to complete agreement on what the future of Bahrain should be, and we want to celebrate this historic moment at the Bahrain Grand Prix so that the world can see we are in perfect unison”.

          3. I agree with that, that is the only scenario that would enable the GP.

            But it is a hard call to get everything sorted out by next tuesday to allow the teams time to send everything over and have them stay there from the end of Februari.

            And I suppose the Bahraini will have other things on their mind before taking care of the GP.

          4. But it is a hard call to get everything sorted out by next tuesday to allow the teams time to send everything over and have them stay there from the end of Februari.

            They don’t need to come to an agreement by Tuesday. They just need to show that they’ve made progress. Even if they say “Okay, we’ll give everyone a grace period to let tempers cool down, and then we’ll sit down for the first time on Wednesday”, it should be enough. They only need to demonstrate that they’re working towards a resolution.

          5. Here is the CNN interview with the Crown Prince:

            http://cnn.com/video/?/video/world/2011/02/20/robertson.bahrain.amir.intv.cnn

            They don’t need to come to an agreement by Tuesday. They just need to show that they’ve made progress. Even if they say “Okay, we’ll give everyone a grace period to let tempers cool down, and then we’ll sit down for the first time on Wednesday”, it should be enough. They only need to demonstrate that they’re working towards a resolution.

            It’s a good thing that you teach English and not History, PM

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FO725Hbzfls&NR=1

          6. @PM

            With all due respect, your understanding of events in Bahrain seems a little simplistic and ignores the wider regional context. Even though the regime is now willing to negotiate with the protestors the situation is likely to remain highly volatile for the foreseeable future. The protestors are largely Shia seeking to wrest more power from the Sunni elite. This means that Iran and Saudi Arabia both have an interest in any outcome and there is potential for rapid deterioration and sectarian violence. Do you really think therefore that this is a suitable backdrop for a GP? Even if the race could be held safely this seems entirely disrespectful to those protesters who have lost their lives.

      2. @ PM – additionally – I am so pleased to hear that the situation has ‘improved’, since you are on the ground there after all. Also – as i Cairo, once it’s all died down, it’s ok – everyone can just go back about their business like nothing happened can’t they..?

        No doubt you will counter with the fact that you have a guy from Thailand living in your ‘dorm’ and that you are currently reading a book set in Morocco.

        1. Nope, I actually read an article from CNN. Granted, it’s not the same as being there, but the article directly quoted the Crown Prince stating that the government wanted to sit down with the protestors and talk it through. Or do you think that CNN, one of the most respected media outlets in the world, would fabricate a major story like that simply because you faced a similar situation in a completely different coutry?

          1. I think that getting all of one’s news from CNN or any major media outlet is always going to cause gaps in one’s knowledge.

          2. And I think that assuming you know better simply because you’re closer geographically sets a pretty poor precedent. While similar, the issues and the situation in Bahrain and Egypt (and any other country wracked by violance, for that matter) are not identical.

            For example, in Egypt, the protestors were demanding the resignation of Honsi Mubarak after a thirty-year reign. In Bahrain, the demonstrators want a new prime minister, one who is not a member of the royal family. There’s a subtle but very important difference: the Egyptians wanted a totally new governmnet, whilst the Bahrainis want more transparency in the way they are governed. Now, you can argue that this is just semantics, but I’m an English teacher – I live in semantics. It might seem slight, but it’s a world of difference.

          3. President Ahmadinejad was directly quoted as denying Neda was shot by his own security forces.

            I’m not sure I entirely believe that one either.

      3. Officially the teams have said they’ll do what the FIA and FOM decide.

        But Boellier, Parr and others have already shown they would rather have it cancelled. If travel is limited by the government advice, this will mean complications for insurance alone, not even thinking about the ethics of it.

        Sure, no one wants to give the call first. Maybe Bernie would be relieved if the travel advice was changed to a downright no go, that would make it impossible to go ahead.

        Leaving it in the hands of the Crown prince, the chief commander of the armed forces and main protagonist of the GP might not be the best solution, as he will be right in the middle of getting everyone talking instead of shooting right now.

        Taking care of a GP should hardly be paramount in his mind right now.

    2. I agree.

      Imagine if they do race, and something happens. Or even almost happens, It will be the worst media attention F1 has had since I can remember watching it. And that’s a while ago now.

      (And this is ignoring the Bernie is as good as supporting the oppressing regime himself, but that’s being hypocritical. No one is complaining about other oppressive countries who have GPs.)

      1. You speak for yourself, plenty of people are complaining, and have been complaining for years about the totalitarian cesspools that F1 pimps itself out to. If the money’s right, it’ll put on a live floor-show for anyone.

        The Bahrain race is done, it’s through, it’s not happening. If F1 seriously thinks it can quietly drive its transporter-truck wheels through blood spattered streets, that it can hold a party in an army cordoned bubble, that it can go from quiet complicitness to overt support of a medieval regime, if it thinks we’ll all hold our nose and swallow that, then I’m finally done with it.

        It’ll have shown definitively, once and for all, that this business has absolutely no place in sport and has no place in civil society.

        Coin-operated Bernie Ecclestone’s views on democracy:
        http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/formula_1/article6633340.ece

        1. Feynman,

          Well said, that’s all there is to it.

          All this nonsense about the BRDC, I ask you.

  5. I imagine the teams will be jumpy about going there if the Crown Prince says it’s OK but the Foreign Office advice is still in place. That would open up a massive insurance & litigation trap for the hundreds of team personnel travelling from the UK. And no employer want that kind of risk.

  6. Right. Well, I guess we will just have to hope that the Crown prince is serious about quickly changing his country for the better then. If he cannot (and let’s hope that he realizes having more violence won’t solve it) but does pretend to have things under control and makes the race go through, I wonder what teams will do with most of them having the governments of their flag saying they should avoid traveling there (that will be re-evaluated in a month, I think?).

    I also imagine insurance etc. will be a big issue; I suppose Bernie has ensured the crown prince indemnify everyone or something?

    I guess this was to be expected from B. Ecclestone, but it is disappointing.

  7. Bernie shows again what we already know: that the only thing he cares about is $$$. The royals of Bahrain have already showed that they don’t mind killing innocent and unarmed protestors. Bernie obviously doesn’t mind having blood on his hands. However let’s wait whether the teams are more scared of their insurance companies or Bernie.

    1. Typical. Just assume the worst in Bernie because that’s the easiest thing to do. Never mind the way he’s done this plenty of times before in the past with circuits as he attempts to get them to do what he wants. The difference here is that he’s issuing an ultimatum to a government and not the BRDC.

      1. Yeah, sure, that’s the only difference. Otherwise, “we won’t go to Silverstone because the pits are too small” is totally comparable to “we won’t go to Bahrein because one of the 600+ people we’re in charge of might get gaught in the middle of a revolution and shot”. Seriously ?

      2. The very idea that Bernie is issuing an ultimatum to the goverment in the hope that’ll sort out the problems is bizzare. He’s doing it because he’s either weaseling out (most likely) or because he genuinely believes the crown prince knows best. It can’t be an ultimatum, otherwise he’d be in negotions with North Korea to host a GP on the basis they give up their nucleur programme. A GP is important, but their are more important things going on in Bahrain, and although it is the first major event since the killings, it is foolish to believe the prospect of a Grand Prix will affect the situation and negotions, rather than the situation and negotions affecting the prospect of a Grand Prix.

        1. it is foolish to believe the prospect of a Grand Prix will affect the situation and negotions, rather than the situation and negotions affecting the prospect of a Grand Prix.

          Agree entirely. Foolish and deluded.

    2. According to that BBC article the travel advisory does not trigger insurance invalidation clauses:

      The British Foreign Office – along with counterparts in many other Western countries – is advising against non-essential travel to Bahrain.

      But BBC Sport understands the warning is not enough to trigger clauses that would invalidate insurance for most F1 teams. For that, the travel advice would have to be not to travel there at all.

      1. But Adam Cooper makes a very good point:

        One report today says that the teams may not have an issue with insurance unless there is a definitive ban. However the BBC’s travel expert confirmed on TV yesterday that for most normal travel insurance – the type that many non-team personnel will have – would be invalidated if a warning was ignored.

        1. And it will be a bit of a guess what media pundits will be there.
          As Jake Humpfrey tweets, the Beeb cannot just send anyone into a dangerous place. He might not be the only one refusing to go.

      2. It depends upon the insurance. I would guess these policies are specially written – they aren’t generic travellers insurance. Just like the tyre debacle in Indianapolis, if someone with authority says “unsafe” it will stop everything. (Who makes that call, though, I have no idea.)

  8. there could also be a different way to look at it. if bernie cancels the event maybe he has to foot the bill, if the prince cancels bernie still gets paid perhaps. now we all know bernie is about money above anything else

    1. Nope, Bernie doesn’t foot the bill. FOM gets paid regardless of whether the race goes ahead. In fact, the payment was most likely made months ago, when the calendar was finalised. Especially since Bahrain pays extra to be the first race on the calendar. They don’t jsut fork over the money the day before the teams arrive – they pay months in advance.

      1. PM – RE. protests in Cairo and the differences between those happening elsewhere – I accept there is a difference and not so subtle either. Semantics do not come into it – and I don’t even need to justify that statement by pointing out what it is that I do for a living.

        What really intrigues me is how it is that you seem to have appointed yourself as the arbiter of all public opinion on this forum? Really – I’d love to have some light shed on this by you..

        1. Arbiter of public opinion? No.

          Devil’s advocate? Very much so.

          Do you think the blog would be nearly as interesting if each and every single post was along the lines of “Boo! Down with Bahrain!”?

          1. No it wouldn’t. Funded arguments make sense.

            Then again some of your arguments get a bit too much on the personal comments toward others. I would like you to tone it down a bit there.

          2. I think it’s just your tone.

            Anyway – I’m in no way an apologist for Revolutions for the sake of it. I’m very concerned abut the power vacuums that are now going to arise in the Region.

            But that’s a posting for another forum.

          3. What I’m very curious about is why PM consistently takes the word of the authorities (whichever ones) as gospel truth, but just as consistently doubts the words and motives of those who protest against authority. Whiffs of vested interests methinks.

            The crown prince has been quoted as saying he wants to negotiate – well, I mean everything’s honky-dory then, carry on, nothing to see here. [I wish I had words for what I’m thinking, but I’m just sitting here shaking my head].

            Oh yeah, and way to suggest that the blog wouldn’t be as interesting without you, PM. Humility is your most endearing quality, you know that? I’ll do you a favor and enlighten you on something you don’t seem to be aware of: you’re the only one here who takes you seriously.

    2. if bernie cancels the event maybe he has to foot the bill, if the prince cancels bernie still gets paid perhaps. now we all know bernie is about money above anything else

      No no no.
      If it’s Bernie who would cancel the event, he has a reason to do it. It is Bahrain that is responsible for not providing conditions for the race to be held, not F1. Thus, I can’t imagine a business deal, where F1 would not get paid in such circumstances.

  9. Cop out. Isn’t this the man who said “they think they’ve go me the balls – their hands aren’t big enough”.

    Well if that is the case, make the call Mr Ecclestone, call it off.

  10. My initial thoughts are that this is quite a smart move by Bernie. It puts the ball in Bahrain’s court. Just because the Crown Prince says yes, go ahead, doesn’t mean it actually will. It puts further pressure on them, another thing to have to consider and potentially the consequences. Whether it’s safe or not is really down to FOTA, Bernie and the FIA. Ultimately the Crown Prince’s decision will be subjective.

  11. So, more chess moves from Bernie. If the Crown Prince dares to race and the weekend is heavily protested then it’s the fault of the Crown Prince. If the Crown Prince says no to this years event, then FOM enforce their right to still be paid for the event.
    @ PM I agree with the fact that this is simply not Bernie passing the buck, he is a very clever negotiator, and as we all know he reads situations and plays the players better than anyone. However i cannot see how going racing so soon after the unrest will portray F1 in any sort of positive light. Bernie does not want to be seen to loose face, after all it was he who chased down these big money contracts in so called emerging markets. Personally I think Bahrain should be given a wide berth this year, otherwise this could end up bitting Bernie on the rear, and negativley reflecting on F1

  12. F1 is all about being non-political.

    FIA / FOM should scrap the event in any case… Middle East can handle the ‘loss’ in income!

    All about the money.

  13. This is dangerous ground.

    The Crown Prince could guarantee the safety of F1 at the expense of his population by creating a Military style “Green Zone” for the event.

    If this happens and protesters attempt to get to the event, further fatalities may occur. If this happens the entire sport will have blood on their hands because of their presence.

  14. What Bernie says and what Bernie does are two different things.

    I think the teams would influence Bernie to not go, should it still be in the situation we are in today.

    However

    Bernie does not like to be seen to be influenced and as such puts it on the Crown Prince. Whether or not the Crown Prince says yes or no, I think there will be no F1 race

  15. Yup, it’s money money money and Bernie doesn’t have the balls. Pass the buck is his motto these days!!!

  16. This is Bernie playing Pontius Pilate. I’m afraid that the Crown Prince will do everything he can to keep the race, even if he has to put every soldier to protect the F1 circus.
    FOTA must now say something, F1 can’t ignore politics, because even pretending that everything’s OK and going to Bahrain is a political act.

  17. I can’t see this being about the money. These contracts must be absolutely water-tight and I bet that FOM still get paid in cases of extreme circumstances, i.e civil unrest.

  18. Yawn, all this talk of Bernie not having balls, how many times has he held teams, drivers, circuit owners and promoters to ransom, making them make the decision that they are forced into?

    He is forcing the Crown Prince’s hand, the race is paid for, the money it generates is a factor, the fact that there will be worldwide media in the area is also a huge factor, he either has to sort the whole thing out asap and get the country back under control for the race, or he has to cancel and probably lose the race altogether, which in turn produces a huge white elephant for the country, as the track is relatively under used as it is

  19. I think this is a good decision because Formula 1 should not be political at all.

    If you expect Bernie to cancel the race because of political situation or the brutality of rulers in the country holding the race, then you must also demand that it stops holding races in UK – the country that is, along with US, most responsible for deaths of tens of thousands of civilians during the illegal “liberation” of Iraq.

    You should also demand that Bernie cancels races in all NATO countries, because NATO is the force whose continuing illegal occupation of Afghanistan led to yet more civilian deaths.

    There are many more examples like these.

    I am not trying to relativize the terrible deeds of rulers of Bahrain or to forward a “we’re no better than them” argument, just trying to point out that there are many sides in a complicated world of (geo)politics, and that you can’t expect a sport like Formula 1 to take a side.

    Condemning rulers of Bahrain while excusing rulers of the aforementioned countries is either hypocritical or political. I don’t want Formula 1 to be either.

    1. I’m sorry, that’s a really obtuse way of looking at it.

  20. Regarding the reason for Bernie saying “it’s the Crown Prince’s call” I have the same view as Prisoner Monkeys here – it’s a typical cornering move by Bernie to extract the maximum out of this situation. Now the Bahrain royalty are sitting on a narrow fence, and whichever way they decide to jump, it could turn out to be a disaster.

    Telling F1 to stay away is going to be damaging, at the same time, if anything happens to the F1 race, or if the protesters use the extra visibility that weekend to make their point – that will be a blow as well. But if it works out fine, Bernie has a proper race, the Crown Prince keeps his dignity intact and all the big guns are happy.

    So forget the money, the only way the monarchy can avoid embarrassment is by creating conditions peaceful enough to run the race, which have two possibilities – A resolution to the people’s problem or a Green Zone. I wouldn’t like to be the one to decide, for sure.

    But then again, they could prove us all wrong, tell F1 to get lost and go back to racing their horses.

  21. QuantumSoul_IX (@)
    20th February 2011, 12:43

    “Let’s hope it will be all right” << 'all right' probably means to him that by the race date the given prince will have already murdered enough number of protesters that the'yy no longer be a threat to Bernie's precious race

  22. Bernie passing the buck like this just means that the crown prince will order an even stronger clampdown to ensure not a single protester is seen in front of the cameras. Then again, what about the spectators? They’d have to run the grand prix with no-one in the stands, as anyone could be a potential protester.

    It’s no good. The people of Bahrain are going to suffer even more if the race is allowed to go ahead.

  23. I’m sorry but this is ridiculous.

    The current situation in Bahrain is clearly far too dangerous to allow an international sporting event to arrive in the country, putting all involved at risk.

    A race going ahead in a country whose government has been using unacceptable tactics to deal with peaceful protest also reflects very badly upon the sport.

    Rather than procrastinating, Bernie should cancel now and give himself longer to make the arrangements to move the race to a nearby F1 standard circuit, perhaps Qatar or the Dubai Autodrome.

  24. Getting back on topic, I was/am actually looking forward to the Bahrain GP this year, I think reverting back to the original layout and the introduction of the ARW (I cant remember it’s official name) could make it pretty exciting.

    Like most people I do miss Australia as the first race of the season though.

  25. From BBC’s round up: “The Bahrain Grand Prix is unlikely to go ahead… if it does at least one leading team will not be there.” They say the story’s on the Sunday Times website: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/sport/formula_1/article555763.ece but I can’t load the story :-(

    1. The Beeb article also points to the fact that if the foreign office change their advice status to “Do not travel” it will give the teams problems with their insurances. Apparently this status makes certain policies invalid. I think at this stage the race is looking less likely.

    2. It doesn’t name the team. The piece is actually titled “Drivers plan to boycott Bahrain” but doesn’t name a single driver or even refer to any anonymously, which I’ve already had a whinge about on Twitter:

      http://twitter.com/f1fanatic_co_uk/status/39260059364098048

      http://twitter.com/f1fanatic_co_uk/status/39266694140657664

      1. Makes you desperate for some meaningfull coverage in a quality news paper, doesn’t it?

        I saw some quotes from Boullier on the subject and I think Parr said something about not being happy with it last Thursday as well as John Booth or Wirth voicing serious doubts.

        But a driver Boycott is very unlikely. Rather Bernie will be waiting for a defenitive “no travel” from the foreign office or a decision coming from Bahrain.

        The GP2 race was also cancelled by request from the Bahrain sports federation I think.

    1. Caution, graphic footage!

  26. bernie said he can’t make a decision because he is not there!!! Who is he trying to fool? He’s got people there, and if needed he could be there in less than 6 hours.
    His plan is simple. Give the prince the chance to make a decision, so he doesn’t feel f1 has abandoned him as soon as things get complicated, so other dictatorships can trust ecclestone as a partener.
    On the other hand, he get’s the cancelation money, and the right to cancel the contract if he consideres it necesary, blaming it on the organazer.
    Typical bussines decision. Typical bernie.

  27. Paul McCaffrey
    20th February 2011, 14:10

    Done with F1. What a joke. Pathetic. DONE! Hello, American Le Mans Series.

  28. why the hell don’t they just organise a GP in Algarve Portugal instead!!! everyone said its a great venue and i dont think it will be to much of a problem for anybody, and we will have a race!!

    1. I dont think Portimao has a high enough FIA safety rating, plus as Bernie said these things take longer than a couple of weeks to organise.

      1. not portimao, Algarve, last year some F1 tests were done there, and the WTCC race there, its a brand new track with great potential

      2. Wrong, one of the reasons it was built was to be a Formula 1 testing venue and potential raceholder, it has the highest safety and facility ratings you can get:

        Designed to be one of the best and most modern circuits in Europe, the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve will benefit from the best conditions of safety and comfort both for drivers and the public. Find out more about the concept underlying its design and the 64 different possible layouts of the circuit, including those that have already been approved by the FIA for Formula 1 and by the FIM for Superbikes.

        ^^^ Taken from the official website

        Personally, I think Portugal should get a race if Bahrain is cancelled, and we should have it on 15-17th July, and scrap the mid season break. I know it will be a bit stressful on the drivers, but hey this is Formula 1 and these guys are meant to be superhuman

        1. I know it will be a bit stressful on the drivers, but hey this is Formula 1 and these guys are meant to be superhuman

          In this respect it’s vastly more stressful on the hundreds of support staff. Things like the mid-season break (which is in August, not July) are their so they can see their families every now and then.

  29. I’m sure Ecclestone is trying shred every inch of credibility he has as he gets older!

    Ecclestone has to make the decision as to whether the race should go ahead or not (of which, I hope it’s the latter). The region is political turmoil, there are issues in the region and F1 cannot turn a blind eye to it and carry on if things were normal.

    Thousands of foreigners – journalists, race crew, fans, sponsers and drivers, will be at the event. Their safety cannot be compromised.

    Bernie has to think about people rather than money for a change, do the right thing and call the race off now.

    1. I’m sure the race can be held safely in Bahrain with full military protection…God knows that more of those sleeping rioters might decide to get themselves killed saying “Go home F1”

      Point is no one from F1 has been scratched… the Crown Prince of mention heads the military that has well…

      I think we’re talking about a principle here.

  30. This is the same Crown Prince that controls the army that shot the demonstrators, that beat the doctors who were treating the injured, that arrested foreign journalists… for the sake of his hmmm…. future job security?

    That’s OK Bernie I’m sure he’ll tell you what to do. It’s not my money is it?

  31. Bernie to King: Is my money safe if we come?

    King to Bernie: Of course it is. Millions of $ and the Saudi thugs we hired from King Fahd make it safe. And we’re handing out milk and cookies to the protesters. But we’re kind of screwed if riots break out in Saudi Arabia, too.

  32. This is definitely about who breaks the contract. We could argue all day about morality, but like all things in the business of F1, it comes down to the money.

  33. This is absolute nonsense. Bernie, all the money in the world won’t make up for your lack of balls.

  34. The man just has no connection to reality any more. There are current travel advisories from the governments of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States warning their citizens not to travel to Bahrain, and he can’t manage to figure out if it’s safe?

    Retire now, Bernie, before you embarrass yourself any further. It matters not if you ignore the warnings and run the race, even if you delay it. I will not be watching, unless Bahrain has made substantial changes that ensure all its citizens are free to assemble and protest without fear from reprisal.

    All you do by clinging to your desire to ignore international sentiment and run the race anyway is risk disenfranchising me to the point where I don’t watch F1 at all. There are plenty of other motorsports out there that I could be spending my time on…

  35. just cancel it already if berney still wants a record 20 race season give it to someone else at a later date in the year

    1. i take back what i just said after hearing what LAK who’s from bahrian i feel they might still have the race as scheduled or postpone it to later in the year if possible ofcourse

  36. Magny Cours held an F1 race even after there had been protests and riots in Paris.

    These protests where actually pretty similar to what the shia are now demanding in Bahrain.

  37. So I own an F1 team, the first race is in a country that’s currently in turmoil.
    Why on earth would I jeopardize the safety of my equipment and employees?
    As far as go or not go’s concerned the decision is obvious and it has nothing to do with politics (or even the location really, if they were going to race at Long Beach and there were riots in LA it wouldn’t make sense either).
    It’s not safe, end of subject, equipment could be trashed, team members kidnapped for money who knows…..

  38. “When you hear of people losing their lives, this is a tragedy.

    “It’s probably not the best time to go there for a sporting event. They have bigger things, bigger priorities.”

    “In the end the right decisions will be made. Maybe it is still the first race, maybe Melbourne is the first race, we don’t know.

    “It’s not a big deal to be honest because there are more things than Formula 1 in Bahrain.

    “They have bigger things, bigger priorities and that is what they want to work on over there, generations of issues.

    “That’s the most important thing for them to sort out and not to worry about Formula 1.”

    Finally some common sense and actual appreciation for the terrible situation and who is this from?
    I’d have thought that was obvious.

    -Mark Webber.

  39. There is another possibility

    The Clown Prince might not be in charge for much longer

    It’s not as stupid as saying Ecclestone doesn’t know what’s happening in Bahrain

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