Webber: ‘F1 not a priority for Bahrain’

2011 F1 testing

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Barcelona, 2011

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Barcelona, 2011

Mark Webber says he’s saddened by developments in Bahrain and believes F1 is not a priority for those in the area at the moment.

Speaking to reporters in Barcelona he said: “I’m really sorry to hear about it. It’s always been a good place to visit in that part of the world. I’m shocked and sad to hear the news.

“As always you don’t know the whole story as you’re not there. Let’s see what happens. I’m sure the right decision will be made.

“In terms of priority, we know F1 is not high on the list, they have got things that clearly should come first.

“If we can still go there in a few weeks and hold a sporting event, that would be great, but if we can’t it’s no big deal. We need to let them sort things out and if not we go to Melbourne.”

Asked about today’s test he said: “We are still learning a lot. We saw a few long runs from Seb & Fernando, we did some good mileage today.

“We have just got to learn as we go along, with the tyres, with the car. As usual it would be nice to go racing as soon as possible to see where we are, but it’s evident from today the team have done a good job and we are working hard.”

Webber said he was “very cautious” about Red Bull’s potential this year. He believes Ferrari will provide the toughest opposition to the team, saying: “Because Fernando works for them, he’s pretty handy!

“Ferrari finished last year very strong and they have come out of the gates this year strong as well.

“The car is always running on track, they look organised. They aren’t hanging around out there, they look pretty quick

McLaren can be there too, I’m not sure what’s going on with them at the moment, but if you’re beating Ferrari, you’ll be doing OK.

“They’ll be up there fighting for podiums certainly and I hope we will be too.”

Webber said it’s “too early to say” how well he will fare with the new Pirelli tyres. He said: “It’s completely obvious the tyres are different.

“We’ve had different tyres in the last few years in F1 – not in terms of a manufacturer change but in terms of style. Drivers have to get used to those.

“But let’s go racing on hot tracks and in racing conditions so then drivers can get more of a chance to see what really suits them and what doesn’t.”

He expects “more overtaking” with the new tyres and described how challenging they are to drive on:

“You’re even talking to yourself in the car saying ‘come on Mark, that was messy’. You’re losing time when the tyres go off a little bit.

“You have got that in your mind, if that was a race situation, on a different strategy, then we might have big problems.

“The only thing we have got to keep an eye on, is a big difference in speed when racing others who may be going longer. There will be such an extreme difference in pace.

“So yes there will be more overtaking, but I’m not sure how spectacular it will be.”

Quotes and additional reporting by Leandra Graves

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23 comments on Webber: ‘F1 not a priority for Bahrain’

  1. It’s way too early to call it, but it does look like it will be another closely fought/great season.

    Regarding Bahrain, here’s my suggestion..

    The fans should boycott the grand prix. Each and everyone of us should refuse to watch even the highlights and ignore any news coverage of the grand prix. Publicity via F1 Blog’s main page (and others) for a silent protest/movement like this would surely send the message to sponsors and Fota alike.

    For anyone short on inspiration to do this, here’s a (very graphic) link to view some evidence of what the imperialist, oppressive, greedy regime in Bahrain has been doing to it’s own (unarmed) people… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxNSabIRN9A

    • I agree Joeymac. Although others on this site have linked boycotting the race on t.v. as equivalent to doing nothing, i disagree. If everyone of F1′s fans were to boycot the race i would send a strong message to FOTA, FOM and Bernie. If they listen is altogether another issue, but i will not be watching this race at all.

    • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 20th February 2011, 22:21

      Indeed we should boycot all races where the regime (in recent times) in some way or another has been linked to violent oppression or human rights violations.

      So, that means we should also boycot China, Malaysia, South Korea, Turkey, Singapore, India, Brazil.

      Countries that are not on the calendar, but that shouldn’t be allowed either would be the US and France.

      • Why US, France, SK and Brazil? Aren’t you pushing a bit too much into the past? Why not include Japan, Spain and Germany in your post already then?

        • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 20th February 2011, 22:56

          why stopping there?. Which country is totally clean from violent oppression or human rights violations?

          F1 came to Argentina when the worst dictatorship in our history was rulling the country and people was being “dissapeared”. Even Dirty War soldiers were at the garages.

          Same with the world cup. So it’s nothing to do with this particular sport.

        • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 20th February 2011, 23:59

          Well indeed. Why not go even further.

          I thought that would be too ridiculous though and just excluding countries with recent human rights violations makes my point that this call for a boycot of Bahrain is rather hypocritical.

          Just google for something like “human rights violations” with the country name and you’ll find what’s wrong in the countries I mentioned.

        • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 21st February 2011, 0:05

          Oops forgot to add Abu Dhabi. That’s in pretty much the same human rights situation as Bahrain. No uprising there yet, but the same conditions the population in Bahrain are protesting against.

          • Did somebody forget the little known entity… England or the British Empire? Need I mention they’re activities in Iraq/Afghanistan/Ireland/The Falklands?

            Lets get serious folks, all the countries that F1 visits has some sort of shamed past/present, but nothing has been as public and real-time as whats happening right now in Libya, Yemen, and Bahrain. Would we support a GP in Israel? I’d like to think that we would not.

            The family of Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifah are responsible the killing of innocent/unarmed protesters. While none of this is our fault, we should not be so forgiving. It’s not our or F1′s ‘responsibility’ to do something about it, but that doesn’t mean we/it shouldn’t.

            What can we do? Perhaps nothing major and instantaneous. We’re all passionate about F1, and we all believe that it should be apolitical for the most part, but as consumers, we do have some power. A boycott of South African products had a huge effect on the end of Apartheid.

            We’re in for another great season, and it won’t be long before the Bahrain debacle is forgotten by the F1 community, but while F1 can do something, I feel it should. Besides, it’s not really just about Bahrain is it? It’s a chance to voice public anger at all government sponsored violence and oppression… including China’s.

            Who watches the Shanghai bore-fest anyway?… not the locals. Sorry for the ranting.

          • What? People are universal in their nature, so where there is people, over time there has inevitably been problems such as those mentioned above. Does that mean that the west can never condem what is occurring NOW in certain countries in the world, because at some stage in the past, people who are in all probability dead now, also committed such transgressions against human rights?

            So, everyone of us could not condem what happend in Rwanda because at some stage in our respective countries past, there were human right violations?

            So we should watch the videos emanating out of the mideast, at this moment, of protesters being mowed down by gunfire sanctioned by autocratic regiems, and say that F1 should go? That the sport, would be in affect saying, we do not care about the murder of civillians?

            Yes, there is an element of hypocrisy to these arguments, but that is because life is not black and white, but rather shades of grey and the complete spectrum of colours. I for one, IMHO, think F1 should stay away

          • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 21st February 2011, 8:58

            The countries I named have human rights violations going on right NOW

            Is it that different when Indian police shoots protesters in Kashmir? Or when the Singapore regime has it’s opposition tortured?

          • yup, fair point Patrickl, but that is what i was trying to get at with the hole hypocrisy thing. There probably is not one country that does not fail on some level. It is a difficult one, where do you draw the line?
            China, just to pick one, well they do seem to get away with far too much, and disturbingly people and governments are too afraid to hold them to account because we seem to be in their pockets, i hate to think what it may be like in the future.
            Yes, i probably am being somewhat hypocritical, singling that one out, but so be it.

    • DavidS (@davids) said on 20th February 2011, 23:32

      All this discussion of boycott is a bit silly.

      If the race does go ahead, from the GP organisers point of view, nothing will have changed. The people of Bahrain aren’t going to feel any more empowered to know that the people that were going to watch the event that the Government approved are now refusing to watch. Your post says that it’s a way of sending a message to sponsors and FOTA. Why are you targeting them? Of all the people to send a message to, these organisations are a low priority.

      Don’t get me wrong, what’s going on in Bahrain is atrocious. But a boycott of an F1 event is the most ****-weak way of showing support to the people of Bahrain. What the world needs to do is watch what’s occurring in Bahrain closely to ensure that this doesn’t get swept under the carpet.

      • Any boycott or representation of public disgust at holding such a high profile government sponsored event, is not aimed at Fota or the sponsors, but it would gain they’re recognition, thus giving them more than moral reasons to themselves boycott the event.

        These entities are portrayed as being all about the commercial side of things (which I’d like to think/hope they are not), so letting them know that the consumers are not happy would put pressure on them to put pressure on Bernie et al.

    • The fans should boycott the grand prix. Each and everyone of us should refuse to watch even the highlights and ignore any news coverage of the grand prix. Publicity via F1 Blog’s main page (and others) for a silent protest/movement like this would surely send the message to sponsors and Fota alike.

      What’s the point in boycotting the race and ignoring press coverage if the race happens? The race will have occured anyway, your protest would be following the race and not before.
      And holding the event would change nothing but would only be dangerous for the people travelling there.

  2. jose arellano said on 20th February 2011, 21:50

    webber speaks very high about alonso

  3. faisal said on 21st February 2011, 3:34

    Should the GP take place in countries that have supported the brutal repression of the Palestinians for the last 60 years?

  4. BasCB (@bascb) said on 21st February 2011, 6:58

    Really like this interview with Webber. Thanks Leandra for those quotes and the superb coverage in the past days.

    As for the Bahrain GP, here Webber says it as it is:

    “In terms of priority, we know F1 is not high on the list, they have got things that clearly should come first.

    Give the Crown Prince a chance to get around the table with all those wanting a say and get some reforms going. And get working on cleaning up the security forces to make them like a normal police force of the people, for the people.

    Then have that GP next year to celabrate the start of a brighter future.

  5. kateafan said on 21st February 2011, 8:47

    Thank you, Mark Webber for speaking out, puts Bernie to shame.

  6. Bäremans said on 21st February 2011, 12:54

    This doesn’t put Bernie to shame. He is still negotiating with everyone involved. Of course, the negociations won’t be political, but strictly financial. But that’s how modern society works.
    You need a section of people that take tough decisions, that will impact a lot of people, but you need people to take them. The force behind it: money and/or power .
    Like Eisenhower who launched Overlord. He knew many would die, would lose a son/husband/brother… but he also knew it had to be done.
    Bernie represents a group of influencial people who have huge finanical interests in F1. On the other hand, he is confronted by the people who paid a lot of money to have the venue take place in Bahrein, who sponsored the venue, etc… He can’t just disregard all those people and their financial interests, and simely take a decision based on his personal emotions.

    His concern is continuity of a financially healthy F1. Pulling out of a venue too easily, will affect the credibility.

    Although I live on Webbber’s planet and my personal idea is also that F1 should cancel the race and start in Melbourne, I would understand it if the race does take place as planned.

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