F1 drivers’ views on the Bahrain Grand Prix

2011 Bahrain Grand Prix

Mark Webber, Red Bull, 2011

Mark Webber, Red Bull, 2011

Bernie Ecclestone is expected to make a decision soon on whether the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead.

Some of the F1 drivers testing in Barcelona have given their views on the doubts over the race. Here’s what they said:

Mark Webber

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

Nick Heidfeld

“Its difficult for me to judge the situation in Bahrain. I am a little surprised as it’s always been fine there previously, it has just been quiet.

“However, in the last few weeks and months a lot of unexpected things have happened.”

Lewis Hamilton

“I hope its not the case [that the race is cancelled]. But the more time we have, the better it is for us.

“I won’t complain if we have a bit more time given to us.”

Jenson Button

??I haven?t got a clue what is going to happen. I don?t know, I haven?t been told anything. I don?t think anyone knows.??

Nico Rosberg

“I don’t know, I have no thoughts. I hope it calms down and we can race.”

Sebastian Vettel

“Generally it’s been peaceful there, I can only judge by what I see in the media what’s happening. I think if we go there, it’s safe enough. If not, we probably won’t.

“I’ve heard a few rumours, but nothing overly serious at this stage.

“I think we will have to wait and see after next week to see whether the test and then the race will take place.”

Quotes and additional reporting by Leandra Graves

2011 Bahrain Grand Prix

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124 comments on F1 drivers’ views on the Bahrain Grand Prix

  1. BasCB (@bascb) said on 21st February 2011, 10:59

    So really only Webber speaking his mind. Lewis shows McLaren have their own trouble to look at right now.

    The rest of them is just keeping their thoughts to themselves and in line with the official agenda.

    Waiting for the Crown Prince to think about a F1 race, can he really spare the time? He can hardly invite the opposition to present a trophy (compare Turkey a few years back).

    So in truth the waiting is for the Office of foreign affairs to see what happens with the travel advice, certainly the race cannot be judged to be “essential” can it?

    • Yeah, don’t forget that 40% of Jenson and Lewis wages comes from the Bahrain goverment…

      On a side note, if the goverment is overthrown, can the new goverment cancelled the Grand Prix contract and say “Well, it was nothing to do with us. It was the last guys pet project. We don’t want anything to do with it anymore.” Just a thought…

      • Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 21st February 2011, 12:54

        That’s very cynical! But you’re probably right.

        And regarding the second point, I’m not sure they’d want to do that. If it wasn’t for the race Bahrain would presumably be known only as the place where it all kicked off back in 2011, and the country where Michael Jackson went to live…

    • It ain’t the first time Webber surprises me with his sincerity in comparison with other drivers.

      • SparkyJ23 (@sparkyj23) said on 21st February 2011, 19:41

        He’s the only driver with a conscience it seems.

        As for ones who claim to know nothing about it – is there a reading part of getting a super-licence?

        • Adam Tate said on 21st February 2011, 22:21

          Not only that, but the only driver with any balls as well. Go Webber.

          I hope he beats Vettel this year and that Massa beats Alonso. They are two drivers who do not deserve to be overshadowed.

      • I feel the same way, Fixy. It seems to me he has at least stated some empathy for the people who live there. However, the way I read his interview, he doesn’t actually give an opinion on whether the race should go ahead or not which is the same as what all the other quoted drivers are doing.

    • Turkey didn’t invade any opposition to present a trophy. What are you talking about?

    • Ya, first William ties with Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela and now McLaren’s Bahrain ties both tyrant kingdoms. F1 company are financially strapped for the huge costs.Good for Ferrari that severed all ties with the Gulf rich but corrupted regime.

      • Toby Bushby (@toby-bushby) said on 21st February 2011, 22:41

        Only one is a “Kingdom”. It’s a different system of government to a “Democracy”. Using the word “tyrant” is a bit strong for Bahrain, don’t you think? Or is any system of government apart from Democracy tyrannical in your view?

  2. well.. the general consensus is that no-one knows whats going on..

    great to see the media working well

  3. Victor. said on 21st February 2011, 11:00

    How can some of these even be called ‘views’? In essence all of them are saying ‘I don’t have an opinion, I’ll follow the big boys’.

    • Yep, some of those “views” are the very definition of fence sitting.

    • Actually even if they aren’t afraid of any bad PR they are still right to act like that. Seriously we don’t know what the **** is going on. People posting in the Internet just throw their “wisdoms” without much effort or thinking.

      The truth is we don’t know ****, the messages are conflicted. Others say the government is killing them while others say that it isn’t the case.
      Who the hell is telling the truth?
      F1 drivers are better off not taking positions if they aren’t certain of what is going on.

      • Actually even if they aren’t afraid of any bad PR they are still right to act like that. Seriously we don’t know what the hell is going on. People posting in the Internet just throw their “wisdoms” without much effort or thinking.

        The truth is we don’t know, the messages are conflicted. Others say the government is killing them while others say that it isn’t the case.
        Who the hell is telling the truth?
        F1 drivers are better off not taking positions if they aren’t certain of what is going on.

  4. shokey said on 21st February 2011, 11:01

    no one said if they would prefer the race to happen or not…

  5. They are formula one drivers, not politicians

  6. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 21st February 2011, 11:16

    It seems like many driver don’t want to go there right now but probably at the end of the season may be.

  7. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 21st February 2011, 11:25

    I think Lewis knows what he wants…

  8. Webber has got the best comment, he seems very good at putting stuff into words! :P

  9. SeattleChris said on 21st February 2011, 11:40

    Other than Webber, these drivers seem nihlistic and unimportant to humanity; they have no opinions because, as their opinions are concerned, they seem shallow, as though this were an episode of Jersey Shore.

    I’m actually quite saddened by the disrespect these boys show their fellow men and women and thus disrespect themselves by knowing so little.

    F1 drivers or not, people should be people and understand that just because their life is not terrible they must concern themselves with the lives of people they are supposed to be inspiring. What is an F1 driver anyway? Apparently just a modern gladiator with nothing to say. pathetic. Except Webber. He’s the only one in this group of drivers who seems to have a head that he uses.

    • frood1919 said on 21st February 2011, 12:21

      yes, it is a shame they have to be so vacuous. but that is the modern sportsman – they have no time for forming opinions or knowing things. imagine asking a bunch of footballers the same questions; i think you’d get largely similar responses.

      these two are the worst though:

      Jenson Button

      “I haven’t got a clue what is going to happen. I don’t know, I haven’t been told anything. I don’t think anyone knows.”

      Nico Rosberg

      “I don’t know, I have no thoughts. I hope it calms down and we can race.”

      pathetic.

      • McLarenFanJamm said on 21st February 2011, 12:25

        what about this from Vettel:

        I’ve heard a few rumours, but nothing overly serious at this stage.

        Nothing overly serious!? Is this an example of his supposed “excellent sense of humour”?

        • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 21st February 2011, 12:32

          I bet he means that none of those rumours are strong enough… not that the situation isn’t serious.

        • It doesn’t bathe them in a good light but maybe they’re just trying to say that aapart from the people in Bahrain noone really knows what is going on at least i hope that’s what they mean.

          Personally I thought Hamilton’s was worse as he seemed completely uninterested in anything but his own car although it must be difficult for him and Jense to comment given Mclaren’s relationship with Bahrain…

          • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 21st February 2011, 13:25

            I suppose we could call Hamilton “focused on his job” …

            (also because he starts with saying he wants it to go through – probably because he is looking forward to go racing, nothing else entering his mind.)

            In a way it is a more honest answer than the others, who all essentially are saying they don’t really care for anything but the racing and won’t think about other things. Not very humane.

            Apart from Webber that is. I would like to hear from Barrichello and Schumacher – maybe age gives them a broader view on the world.

      • Jenson Button said,

        I haven’t got a clue what is going to happen. I don’t know, I haven’t been told anything. I don’t think anyone knows

        He doesn’t know what is going to happen, not that he doesn’t know anything about the current situation. Why do we need to know what F1 drivers think about a complex political and social situation?

        To me it seems that the fewer people decide to let everyone know their ill-informed opinions the better, and it can be left to people who know more than what was picked up in half an hour on the internet.

        It is more pathetic to believe that anyone should care what ‘I reckon’.

        • And yes I appreciate the irony inherent in my comment.

          • thatscienceguy said on 21st February 2011, 13:24

            I don’t think anyone is expecting the drivers to give their thoughts on the geopolitical climate.

            What people would like to hear from the drivers is that given the circumstances whether they feel F1 should be going there or not.

          • thatscienceguy said on 21st February 2011, 13:24

            circumstances being safety, not political.

  10. Bäremans said on 21st February 2011, 11:51

    The drivers may not be politicians, but I guess most will have a fairly outspoken opinion on this subject. Guess they are simply not allowed to say what they want.
    Like the other posters, I do like it how Webber managed find a way of putting the importance of F1 in perspectieve compared to a situation like the one in Bahrain.
    On the other hand, F1 is economically speaking an important venue to have. Why else would Bernie succeed in organising events at the costs that he is charging? So there is a degree of economical power that comes with F1. Question is whether some decision maker (FOM, FIA, Bernie?) is willing to play that card.

  11. Alex Bkk said on 21st February 2011, 11:57

    I think Mark just went up a few notches of character in my opinion.

    The rest? So politically correct aren’t they… toe the line… eat your peas or you cant have your pudding! No free thinkers… no up against the wall you gravy sucking pigs, no smash the state! No sympathy for the victims, no outrage for the crimes agains them.

    I guess the dead weren’t their fathers, mothers, brothers or sisters killed there. Why should they care? All they have to do is suck up to the system that sucks up to the Monarchy that keeps them partying in Monaco. Shut up or you’re out!

    I feel like I’m watching Brasil, reading Orwell and falling into a tin of Salvador Dali’s paint all at the same time.

    God help these kids… they have the stones to go around a track at 300k but can’t speak their mind?

    Sad

    • Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 21st February 2011, 12:59

      I think Mark just went up a few notches of character in my opinion.

      Agreed

      • Andy C said on 21st February 2011, 13:24

        This backs up my thoughts on Mark. He just calls it like he sees it. He rarely comments if he has nothing to say.

        I can fully understand why Jensons comment comes across as wooly. They (MCL) are in a tricky situation on this one.

    • “I think Mark just went up a few notches of character in my opinion.”

      Thirded or maybe the others just went down a little bit :P Just kidding. Kudos to Mark for not just saying how he really feels but for seemingly like he’s thought about the people of Bahrain.

    • Alex,

      Completely True.

      This is Corporate power over its employees. It is all about money, greed, power and control, and the drivers are mere pawns on a large chess board. Button’s comments are disgusting – like he does not watch tv or speak to people. How messed up is this world, when a human being cannot speak in support of another human being because of some contractual obligation?

      If this is their level of servitude, how much of this circus is stage managed?

  12. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 21st February 2011, 11:59

    bah, nice opinions… I mean, opinion.

    appart from Mark, the others said little to nothing.

    these drivers are just puppets…

  13. matt88 said on 21st February 2011, 12:00

    I think that a Senna or a Prost would have had a clear view on the issue, now you can understand why a lot of people think that current F1 drivers are bleak in comparison to the legends of the past.
    The only exception is Webber, probably he’ll never be a WDC but here again he shows he belongs to a different (and rare) species of drivers.

  14. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st February 2011, 12:31

    Gulf News reports that the race will not be cancelled, but re-scheduled for some time “after Malaysia, but before Abu Dhabi”, which is basically any time this year. If the race is indeed to be rescheduled, then the only time it would really make sense would be to run it between Belgium and Italy and get rid of the one-month break. The problem is that would make it a flyaway event. Better to more Belgium and Italy up by two weeks each and then have Bahrain run the first race of the final away leg between Monza and Singapore. Of course, then you’d get nay-sayers claiming it would be in poor taste to run a Formula 1 event in an Islamic country on the tenth anniversary of September 11.

    • Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 21st February 2011, 13:01

      I don’t see any prospect of the Italian/ Belgian GP’s being moved, the tickets have been on sale for ages

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st February 2011, 13:06

        Then the only option would be to do an India-Bahrain-Abu Dhabi hot streak, with the Bahrain race moved to some time around November 6th. It’s only really manageable because Bahrain and Abu Dhabi are close together geographically; three races on the trot is a big ask, especially when they’re fly-aways. It would be cheaper than dropping it into the month-long gap between Hungary and Belgium because it wouldn’t be a special flyaway.

        • The more I look at the calendar I really don’t see Bahrain being rescheduled.

          Belgium-Bahrain-Italy would be very strange and be an increase of costs for the teams to suddenly have a fly away then if Bahrain and Abu Dhabi were together they’d almost be in competition with one another and I don’t think AD would appreciate that. I suppose stranger things have happened in F1 though

    • xtophe (@xtophe) said on 21st February 2011, 13:10

      The contrast of the Sakhir circuit with Spa/Monza would be far too great aswell :p

    • Maciek said on 21st February 2011, 13:37

      Of course, then you’d get nay-sayers claiming it would be in poor taste to run a Formula 1 event in an Islamic country on the tenth anniversary of September 11

      Like who? Rush Limbaugh? Drooling yahoos in pubs? I certainly haven’t heard anything from anyone here that would suggest that kind of opinion.

  15. Jenson and Lewis are on the Bahrainy payroll; talk about stuck between a rock and a hard place.

  16. sato113 (@sato113) said on 21st February 2011, 12:38

    ‘I don’t know, I have no thoughts.’ -ROS

    typical f1 pr bullshi…

  17. Subaru_600BHP said on 21st February 2011, 12:38

    Bernie says “the Crown Prince will know if it’s safe or not” , so he’s going to let a man who orders the murder of his fellow countrymen, who’s main interest is staying in Power make the “unbiased” decision???? Bernie Eccelestone has taught me that there is more to life than money, integrity and honor also counts alot for some people but not someone like Bernie, even the smallest amount of respect i had for him is gone, in fact im really starting to dislike him.

    Mark Webber showed he is the nly non corporate robot on the grid, all the other drivers are just puppets who don’t have the guts to speak their mind, bring back the old days, these guys are becomming like a bunch of corporate nancy boys.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st February 2011, 12:45

      so he’s going to let a man who orders the murder of his fellow countrymen

      There is no evidence the police were specifically given orders to shoot to kill. They were ordered to clear the protestors out of the Pearl Roundabout while they were sleeping, and the use of tear gas was authorised. However, it is more likely that one or two police officers took matters into their own hands and ignored their orders when they opened fire.

      And while rubber bullets are used as a non-lethal method of crowd control, they can be lethal if they happen to hit the wrong part of the body. However, given the conditions – a sea of protestors, general chaos – and the very precise criteria needed for a rubber bullet to kill, it’s incredibly unlikely that all of the deaths were deliberate.

      • Subaru_600BHP said on 21st February 2011, 13:13

        im originally from the Middle East, i have knowledge of the place and visited many times, when orders come they 100% always come from the top! of course he’s going to try and put spin on it when talking to the western media!,with regards to rubber bullets, live rounds where used and there is video evidence of this but i wont post the link as it’s not appropriate for this website.

        of course money is more important for Bernie, he is making F1 look like a shambles, i just can’t stand the little man anymore.

      • Alex Bkk said on 21st February 2011, 13:33

        I beg your pardon PM.

        And while rubber bullets are used as a non-lethal method of crowd control, they can be lethal if they happen to hit the wrong part of the body.

        Agreed… but that’s assuming they were using “rubber bullets”

        However, given the conditions – a sea of protestors, general chaos – and the very precise criteria needed for a rubber bullet to kill, it’s incredibly unlikely that all of the deaths were deliberate.

        Bullets are the reason that those people are dead. Live rounds carried by the army and the police with the orders to break up the demonstration. The police and army were ordered to oppose the demonstrators.

        The orders in a country like Bahrain always come from the top. This wasn’t some spontaneous police or military action. It just doesn’t happen there.

        I can’t believe that you’re being so wordy yet naive on this subject PM.

      • Maciek said on 21st February 2011, 14:02

        I wonder how you’d feel about rubber bullets if your friends or family were on the receiving end. So what now – your criteria of acceptable reaction to protest is that anything that fits into “not intentionally lethal” is ok? I’m sure glad you’re not the lawmaker where I live. Your posts all sound like you’ve memorised “The 1001 best excuses for when you’re shooting at protesters”.

        Seriously, it SO shows that you’ve never felt repressive government on your own skin. Your posts are getting insulting beyond belief to anyone who has.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 21st February 2011, 14:28

        PM, from what you write you were right there, having the government deciding, weren’t you?

        Maybe you like playing the devil’s advocate, but you are overdoing it. Real bullets were used and people got killed because there were armed police/security forces used to stop protests.

        If you want, compare it to situations in other countries before. Armed people stopping protests is bound to end in tragedy (by order, or by being provoced does not really matter).

        The biggest upside here is, in Bahrain the goverment has backed down to try the sensible approach. That is pretty unusual but fortunate.

  18. kateafan said on 21st February 2011, 12:43

    Really Webber stands head and shoulders above the rest (and yes as a fan you can dismiss my opinion but his ability to express thoughtful, honest comment on issues outside of F1 is one of the reasons I’m a fan).
    Sad that Hamilton only sees this as an opportunity for his team to make up lost time.
    There are human lives lost and liberties being fought for but it’s good to see where his priorities are.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st February 2011, 12:47

      Webber’s mouth has gotten him in trouble more than once. Particularly here in Australia. Recalling the incident where he got into an argument on live radio, it did feel like he was opening his mouth without thinking first.

    • Dobin1000 (@dobin1000) said on 21st February 2011, 12:51

      Yeah, imagine someone thinking about how something affects them.

      He isn’t jumping up and down shouting “I love it when people get shot!”, and would it really make a difference to anyone to hear yet another person saying “Isn’t it terrible”?

      Everyone is acting as if Webber made some stirring speech that reduced everyone within earshot to tears, but he didn’t really say anything more than the others except to start by basically saying ‘oh dear’. Don’t get me wrong, Mark is one of my favourite drivers because he speaks his mind, but he hasn’t actually given his opinion on the situation except how it relates to the race. Hang on, that’s what Lewis did too…

      • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 21st February 2011, 13:00

        Mark said that the race isn’t the main priority in Bahrain, given their situation.

        Lewis said that more time would be good for them.

        very similar.

        • Dobin1000 (@dobin1000) said on 21st February 2011, 13:49

          So you cherrypicked a line from each of them to show how different their comments were. Here’s my go:

          Webber: “As always you don’t know the whole story as you’re not there.”

          Hamilton: “I hope its not the case [that the race is cancelled].”

          Suddenly Mark is sitting on the fence and Lewis is expressing his opinion.

    • Whilst I agree Webber’s comments are a refreshing change from the “I don’t know” offered by everyone else, I don’t think he is actually saying that much different to the other drivers. He doesn’t actually give his opinion on whether the race should go ahead or not.

      Gotta admit I’m actually pretty close to criticising Webber for talking like a politician but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt for now :)

  19. Dobin1000 (@dobin1000) said on 21st February 2011, 12:45

    If drivers have an opinion, fine – but I’m not going to criticise them if they decide not to have an opinion of something they aren’t actually experiencing or have any reason to understand.

    Who cares what Adrian Sutil thinks about the situation? Is he a middle-eastern historian, anthropologist, sociologist? No? He’s someone who is good at driving cars fast: well it must be essential I know his thoughts!

    I’m more annoyed at the politicans who have shied away from taking a stand on the situation, when that is their job. Why don’t people start criticising them instead?

    Now I’m just off to ask some accountants what their thoughts are about gun control laws in America after the recent shooting…

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 21st February 2011, 12:58

      they have the responsability to speak about it. If F1 goes there, then someone in Bahrain will benefit.

      They can’t just stay silent, because they are involved with it. It doesn’t matter if he’s only a driver, he’ll go to Bahrain and he’ll race. And that will have an influence in the political and social situation over there.

      they HAVE to talk about it and give a clear opinion.

      • Dobin1000 (@dobin1000) said on 21st February 2011, 13:54

        Why does their opinion have an affect on how the race influences the situation? Is the government going to be affected differently if the race goes ahead with Button having said he wants to race or not?

        It seems to me more dangerous to have people giving their opinion based on little knowledge of the background of how the race affects different groups in the country.

        The old saying applies about it being better to hold your tongue and having people suspect you are stupid than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

  20. Political correctness and lack of character seems to become as the order of the day in F1.
    Only a handful of drivers and teams (read: only Mark Webber) stated their position on the events.
    If it is a global sport it cannot ignore the violation of global humanitarian standards such as people getting shot for expressing opinion.
    F1 should drop Bahrain until it matches not only the financial, but also the human standards.

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