Mark Webber, Red Bull, 2011

F1 drivers’ views on the Bahrain Grand Prix

2011 Bahrain Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

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

  1. 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?

    1. 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…

      1. 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…

        1. Haha cor I’d completely forgotten about the Jacko connection!

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

      1. 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?

        1. 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.

      2. 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.

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

    4. 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.

      1. 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. 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’.

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

      1. You know you’re in trouble when Bernie Ecclestone is leaving it to the ‘big boys’, as Victor called them…

      2. And finally we have a quote from our Sponsor Friendly Marketing Robot 3000, “bleep bloop, I wish for world peace”

        1. you are right. Webber is the only one speaking his mind, the others are a byproduct of the f1 pr system.
          Oh god how exciting it’s f1 nowadays.

          1. OK, Kowalsky – you’ve got a job where you get paid millions a year, drive the fastest cars in the world, and have all the girls you want.

            You have a choice between saying what you want, and both risking ******* off a huge number of people if you word things just slightly wrong, and also risking losing your job – or you can be diplomatic about it.

            What do you do?


          2. Yeah, I would love to hear how James Hunt would have responded to such questions if he were driving today :)

          3. Hunt was very forthright in his criticism of racing in Apartheid South Africa. There’s a quote from him here:


    2. 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.

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

  5. They are formula one drivers, not politicians

    1. thatscienceguy
      21st February 2011, 11:36

      they’re also people with opinions. Seeing they might be dropped in the middle of it it would be nice for them to actually express their opinion.

    2. Funny – they have politicians’ answers down pat.

    3. I think you’ll find they’re still human beings capable of forming their own opinions.

      1. From the quotes above you could be forgiven for questioning that. I’m glad to see Webber is his usual self.

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

  7. I think Lewis knows what he wants…

    1. he’s shiny on the outside, but the dullest of gray inside. A toy… but I’m not amused.

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

  9. 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.

    1. 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.”


      1. McLarenFanJamm
        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”?

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

          1. Maybe, but it’s still a pretty tactless thing to say…

        2. 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…

          1. 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.

      2. 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’.

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

          1. thatscienceguy
            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.

          2. thatscienceguy
            21st February 2011, 13:24

            circumstances being safety, not political.

  10. 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. 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?


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


      1. 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.

    2. “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.

    3. 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?

      1. +1. COTD from Alex BKK.

  12. bah, nice opinions… I mean, opinion.

    appart from Mark, the others said little to nothing.

    these drivers are just puppets…

  13. 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.

    1. I think all drivers in that period would have found it easier to voice their opinions. Corporate spin has definitely changed what people can actually say vs what they think…

      for further proof see Jake tweets from yesterday

      Tweet 1: Honest:

      Tweet 2: Corporate Spin:

    2. Perhaps you could add a Stewart to that as well, he always stood up for what he believed was/is right.

  14. 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.

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

      1. 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.

        1. 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

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

    3. 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.

    1. Yep, I bet you’d get a different answer if you were talking to them over a beer.

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

    typical f1 pr bullshi…

  17. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

      3. 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.

      4. 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. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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…

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

    3. 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. 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…

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

  21. Other than Webber, I think all the other drivers want to enjoy Shaik Al Khalifa`s extravagant welcome party in his extravagant palace !
    It`s really a shame that drivers and teams put career and money before moral judgement on serious issues like this.
    If the race is to go ahead, please boycott it :

    1. I’m going to make a Facebook page boycotting your Facebook page. I think I’ll call it “Stop letting uninformed people take the moral high road so that they can sleep better at night”, but that’s a bit long.

      1. You have a problem with the moral high ground? What uninformed person are you talking about?

        Uninformed about what?

        The ones who have seen the videos?

        The ones who have read the newspapers?

        The ones who aren’t impressed with your opinions and arguments?

        Are these these the uninformed that you are talking about?

        1. Reading the Facebook page, it’s fairly obvious that Quantum Formulist only cares about the people of Bahrain as far as the Grand Prix is concerned. He wants the race cancelled because of the violence so that Formula 1 can have a clean conscience, but that’s as far as his compassion goes. So long as Formula 1 is clean, he doesn’t care what happens. Manama could drop a canised of sarin gas on the protestors tomorrow, and so long as Formula 1 does not visit Bahrain, he won’t bat an eyelid.

          At least, that’s the way his Facebook page presents itself. Maybe it’s just a matter of the wording, but that’s how he comes across.

      2. Well, PM, you have not shown yourself to be very well-informed either!

      3. @PM

        I have very close links to the region and let me assure you your views are woefully uninformed and bordering on the offensive.

        I suspect the recent convergence of F1 and middle eastern politics has forced you to quickly acquire a viewpoint on the latter.

        1. My opinion has always been that something should be done about Bahrain, but that Formula 1 should not be the vessel for that political statement, and that if the race should be cancelled, then it should be cancelled on the grounds of safety an not some ill-conceived political statement.

  22. Hat off to Webber.
    The others underlining priority on time lost or covering behind “I don’t know” or “none told me what to say” are pathetic.

    1. Just because some drivers are less informed about the situation in Bahrain, doesn’t mean that they don’t care. I think some people are just hating, because they can’t accept that some people think differently to them.

      1. Do you honestly believe, that all these drivers using Twitter are clueless as to what is going on in the world?

        It is their employers telling them not to speak their mind.

      2. Less Informed!

        Like the TV and Internet is banned with the team – get real! Its called, having a set of balls and refusing to be a corporate whore! Its that simple really.

        Well done Mark – respect!

        1. How do you know the drivers know more than they seem to?

          1. If they really knew as little as some of those comments would suggest, then it really wouldn’t say much at all for either their intelligence or interest in what is happening in their sport.

  23. As a lot of comments state, it looks like only Webber has the guts to say something reasonable for the country’s situation. I also read “they aren’t pòliticians”, but looks like the majority of them are afraid of disappointing their sponsors. Surprising for me is the McLrn boys comment (they said almost the same): How can they answer “It could give us more time” when there are dead people?

    1. Because McLaren is 40% owned by Bahrain’s royal family and they are under strict orders not to say anything at all about the situation there?

      1. Good Point!!!

      2. Absolutely, difficult situation for McLaren but the Bahraini royal family don’t own 40% of their souls.
        It’s not like I think it’s black and white, and that one driver is right, another is wrong but I know which response I admire more.

        1. Kate,

          Spot on.

          The Royal Family does not own their souls.

          It is amazing what money can do to people and I know that they are not alone – but please – pleading ignorance! I am sure that I am not alone when I say that I will not see these people in the same light whilst they are in front of the cameras reading from an autoqueue. This is not about politics, its about being a human being, not a corporate commodity.

          And again, Well done Webber, if anyone was going to show some compassion, it was always going to be him.

        2. I think you are being naive if you think they are free to speak their mind on such a controversial topic, when they are funded to a large extent by those they are commenting on.

    2. Obvious McLaren disliking troll is obvious. Go cherry pick your quotes elsewhere please.

  24. Don’t be so harsh on the drivers. They will more than likely have personal views but the teams employ them to drive, not to be sympathetic.

    1. agreed. And another thing is that we don’t know exactly what context certain answer’s were given in. The majority of quotes provided are merely extracted snippets, rather than coherent, detailed answers. For example, i was initially disappointed when i saw Lewis’ seemingly selfish comment where he seems only concerned with how the situation affects him. But for all i know (i don’t know if anyone knows any better), he may very well have been asked in an interview to specifically explain how the postponement of the race would affect his team’s development.
      Also, each driver is part of a vast web of commercial, economic and political connections, and is contractually obliged to keep a lot of people very happy- that makes it very hard to publicly express opinion. Nevertheless, well done Mark Webber for shunning those corporate responsibilities and having the bottle to speak his own mind rather than the teams carefully manufactured one.

    2. Can’t agree! They’re human beings in the first place. There are many cases when the driver must ballance personal views with the team’s communication strategy, but when the theme is far beyond the scope of the team and is about moral principles then they are obliged to speak.
      Even for small issues like theam cheating and arranging, say, a crash so that one of its drivers gets an advantage.
      But also for bigger issues like crime or violation of laws or moral.

      1. ukk, i wasnt saying that it is right how these drivers are neglecting to speak up against what is happening in Bahrain. Like you i believe they should have a bit more backbone in the matter. I was merely saying that in the overwhelmingly corporate environment many of these modern drivers have been conditioned in, i can understand why they have responded as they have- we don’t know what pressure they are under internally. If you notice, i commended Mark for his attitude.

  25. I’ve been and I remain in total agreement with Keith’s principled stance against continuation of hosting a Grand Prix in Bahrain given the present climate.

    But I do not think it appropriate to hang out quotes from the drivers regarding the issue. The drivers of course live and work ‘in a bubble’ so to speak. They will as a matter of course be totally focused on the job they are tasked to do. A a task that requires 100% focus.

    Some of the drivers may or may not choose to concern themselves with world events, political or otherwise. It is not their doing that draconian dictatorships have influence over the civil liberties of the people in the countries they are at times tasked to visit as part of their contractual obligations to the Formula One circus.

    To suddenly pull them out of that ‘bubble’ and expect them (any or all) to come up with lucid, well informed opinion and then chastise them for not being on the bleeding edge of current events is misplaced commentary.

    Of course they reap the rewards of their sporting endeavours and if they fail in those endeavours for which they receive their reward, then so be it, let them be criticised.
    But please, not for their likely lack of understanding for world or local politics. It doesn’t make sense.

  26. talkSPORT have reported teams definatley not going to ahrain for testing. Race has to be looking doutful.

  27. I think these recent events has really exposed F1 for its true colours – money and greed, superceding any compassion for fellow human beings. The final straw, are the drivers, who with the exception of Webber, cannot say a few words of support, and then lie, by claiming that they dont know what is happening. What a joke!

    Be the change that you wish to see in life.

  28. OK, guys… as I said above – what do you expect from the drivers?

    1) They can speak their minds, and risk pissing off millions of forum posters and bar room fans if they put even one word wrong. As evidenced by the semantic dissection here, every tiny element of what they say will be pulled apart and pried open. And because each driver has far fewer fans than non-fans, the non-fans (as is inevitable) will be pulling everything apart negatively.

    If they speak freely, it’s likely to be a massive disaster for the teams. You guys say you hate that they don’t have the ‘guts’ to speak out, but then you second-guess every shred of opinion that comes out of their mouths.

    Not only that, any opinion they express will instantly be taken out of context and reproduced in probably-incorrect sound bites by the media, each sound bite selected to portray whatever light they want. For example, the driver says, “This is a tragedy. The Crown Prince has made a serious mistake The government needs to change its policies – you can’t just shoot a few protesters. The international community is complicit in this, too. They need to show a more a severe response.” …and the quote will be, “The government has made a serious mistake. You can’t just shoot a few protesters… They need to show a more severe response.”

    What do you expect to happen? For the drivers to say anything more than the minimum is inviting disaster.

    Or the other option: 2) They can stay diplomatic, and try to say something without saying anything (Lewis’ “we could use more time” statement is an excellent example of saying you don’t want to race without saying you don’t want to race). That will **** off fans, but everyone’s used to drivers not saying anything. And they can not piss off the people who give them their jobs and let them race.

    What would you do? Would you really speak your mind, and probably be pilloried in the press for something you never said, and anger your employers, who specifically said in your contract that you should do this stuff? Or would you try to keep your head down at let The Economist discuss policy and you go motor racing, rather than the other way around?

    The FIA and Formula One, and to a somewhat lesser extent the teams, have an obligation to react to situations like this in a way that shows they’re not wretched ********. They have more control over how their words are portrayed, more ability to respond if they’re misquoted, and more experience and people to form a cogent analysis. The drivers not only have very little time to read the aforementioned Economist, but very little experience or resources on which to draw on when given a spur-of-the-moment question on a VERY rapidly developing situation.

    Take Vettel, for example, who you’re ripping to shreds for saying that nothing too severe has happened? Do you know when he said that? Maybe you know when the interview was published. But that says nothing. I was interviewed by a web site a week ago and the content still isn’t up.

    For all we know, a week and a half ago he was told the decision would be made in a week, and the interviewer got bogged down and only published yesterday, thus making Vettel look clueless. And that’s when he’s being diplomatic!

    Webber has balls for speaking his mind, that’s for sure. But he’s taking an enormous risk. I can guarantee that there’d be a ********* of biblical proportion every time he spoke if he were a Ferrari double world champion rather than just a fast guy who everyone likes.

    You guys need to calm down and see things from the perspective of other people. I live in a world that’s very, very, very, VERY *slightly* like those drivers in terms of being careful what I put my (real) name on. It’s not so easy, even when there’s only a little business at stake and a few tens of thousands of people. When you’re talking something like F1? It’s incredibly unfair to rip on these guys for not expressing in a very careful way points on international policy they don’t have enough time to evaluate fully anyway, when their words will be deliberately taken out of context, AND distorted by rumor and ‘out-of-dateness’.

    Consider what would happen if someone said to you, “OK, tell me your opinion on Bahrain. I’m going to tell another 600 million people. But I might not tell them all of what you said, and I might not say when. It might not run until after the country has fallen into civil war with thousands dead and you’ll look like a heartless *******. Or maybe it won’t run until after the situation is resolved as a big misunderstanding, and you’ll look like a moron.

    Also, if you say the wrong thing, you’ll be fired.”

    Would you come out guns blazing?

    1. Yikes, that came out a LOT longer than I expected. See what happens when you speak your mind without having time to prepare? You look crazy! :)

    2. Take Vettel, for example, who you’re ripping to shreds for saying that nothing too severe has happened? Do you know when he said that?

      As the article says, all the quotes are from the Barcelona test. The Vettel quote was given on Friday.

      1. Missed that, Keith. Fair dos. The basic point stands, though: Context and timing are critical to these situations. If Vettel hadn’t been hanging around online or watching TV for the last few days (I’ve done it – it’s possible, guys, particularly when you’re working) it’s entirely plausible that he didn’t have very up-to-date information.

        1. Excellent post (I bet Kimi would have appreciated having you in his corner to defend his *boring* interviews)

  29. I have no view on F1 drivers’ views on the Bahrain Grand Prix.

    1. I have no view on your view of the drivers’ views on the Bahrain Grand prix.

  30. Webber – A man amongst boys. The only one speaking up for what is proper and correct.

    1. Hear Hear Webber

  31. I couldn’t care less if I’m honest, just move the damn thing and put a test at Portimao in it’s place, and extend the end of the season by a week, put Bahrain where AD is now and then have AD a week later, sorted

    1. Hey Sam,

      This is just for you:

      First They came…

      First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Communist.

      Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

      Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

      Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me…

      Pastor Martin Niemoller

    2. Sam, that would give just a week between your rescheduled Bahrain and the season finale in Brazil… that’s a big ask.
      Better cancel for this year, 19 races is plenty.

  32. Sad to see that the poor situation in Bahrain has caused alot of tension and hate on what usually is a very welcoming site, which I can understand given peoples different opinions. But what I would like to point out is that these guys have probobly expressed their sadness at the situation in Bahrain a thousand times with the amount of interviews they do. Just because alot of people read one sentence from the drivers where they are not taking the ‘moral high road’ and heaping sympathy on the situation then these people suddenly become shallow PR robots. Come on guys cut them some slack.

    1. * Called off

  33. An interesting point is, Williams boss Parr was among the first to say it would not be appropriate to go to Bahrain right now.

    At the same time, the team is dependant on Venezuelan money. The same Venezuela rumoured to be the only place willing to take in Ghadaffi (government have denied for now)!

    Nothing is black and white, all just shades of grey where we must make up our mind and think to stay in the lighter grey areas.

  34. It’s very easy to say now that drivers have not opinion. I think they work for companies that have to be very carefull with opinions.

    Yes, they can have personal opinions but I think their opinions are not important.

    Why do they have to say anything now when they and all the rest (teams, FIA, FOM, partners, goverments…) have been silent about this country, about China, about Venezuela money, about russian money… about russia… ¿Do yo think russia is a 100% democratic country?… well they would have a race soon…

    Why do they have to talk now when even European Union hasn’t got a clear opinion? Obama said two days before Egypt goverment falled that USA were their friends, and the day after he said something about freedom…

  35. Jeezus they’re all a bunch of PR robots. Only Webber said something useful

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