Ecclestone says teams support return to Bahrain

2011 Bahrain Grand Prix

Bernie Ecclestone says F1 teams are happy to race in Bahrain if they are able to put the race back on the calendar this year.

In an interview with CNN he said: “I think the teams are happy, yeah. If it’s all safe and everything’s good I think the teams would be happy to support it.”

When the race was originally postponed in February Williams’ Adam Parr said his team and possibly others would have boycotted the race.

Today Ross Brawn told Autosport said the teams had warned Ecclestone it would be “totally unacceptable” to re-schedule the Indian Grand Prix to December 11th to make room on the calendar for Bahrain.

Ecclestone said he would try to put the race on if the Bahraini government supported it:

“If there’s peace there and they’re happy, we’re happy to compromise and make things happen for them.”

Ecclestone explained there were several logistical obstacles to overcome in order to run the race:

“I don’t know. I mean, I haven’t been there, you get stories about these things. They’ve lifted this restriction, or they’re going to on the first of June, so we’ll have to see.

“It’s really a case of if the government supports it, allows people to travel, insurance companies are happy for people to be there like the teams, things like that.

Asked if he was concerned about the moral implications of racing in the country he said:

“We’ve always tried to keep out of politics and religion and things like that. I don’t really know and I don’t know if people have ever found out exactly what the problems are.

“All you can do is hear what people report. Sometimes these things are not reported that accurate. So I don’t know. I mean, if what you hear and read is true, I think we’d have to say we support the people against.”

He added F1 would not rule out racing in Bahrain this year:

“I think it would be difficult to do that but I think we’d have to sort of say ‘let’s do something to try to keep everybody peaceful’”.

2011 Bahrain Grand Prix

Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images

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60 comments on Ecclestone says teams support return to Bahrain

  1. BasCB (@bascb) said on 31st May 2011, 21:26

    Good thing we already heard from Brawn, otherwise we might be led to believe the teams really do not mind.

    But after reading the quote, I get the feeling Bernie is being carefull not to say something that is explicitly a lie, without showing they told him they were very concerned.
    Officially they might be restricted to talk about safety concerns and problems with getting the personell to work that long. If only because of contractual reasons.

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 31st May 2011, 21:33

      Agreed. I doubt if any teams are in favor, and this seems to be the first admission from Bernie that maybe things aren’t as peachy in Bahrain as he wants them to be:

      So I don’t know. I mean, if what you hear and read is true, I think we’d have to say we support the people against.

      • Ned Flanders said on 31st May 2011, 21:41

        The fact that he’s prepared to admit that attrocities are occuring is at least a tiny bit reassuring. However, whether he cares about them is another matter entirely…

        • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 31st May 2011, 22:03

          Well, he didn’t really admit they’re happening. He basically says IF they’re happening, then he’d be against the reinstatement. Still… it’s a chink in his armor of denial.

          • Mike said on 1st June 2011, 8:42

            I think he is implying that these things are not really happening though.

      • Phil said on 3rd June 2011, 8:54

        I agree Peter, but the bottom line is how much money is going to Bernie. That is all that matters to him, he will expect the teams to go despite the obvious ethical issues. And I’d be willing to bet that, whatever the other teams think, Ferrari will go and race there, even if it’s just a two car race. Big market for them, the Middle East.

    • Ned Flanders said on 31st May 2011, 21:37

      The thing is, Ferrari did come out in support of Bahrain the other day, which I thought was pretty shameful. And, as a team part owned by Bahrain, it wouldn’t surprise me if McLaren are the next to give their backing.

      Sadly, the only reason teams have spoken out against the plans is because they don’t want their employees working ’til December, and because they’re concerned with their own safety. No one yet seems to have considered the plight of the people who live there, and how reinstating the GP will affect them

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 31st May 2011, 21:57

        I am pretty sure its not only that part about the personell. But it is one point they will find the easiest arguing, as safety will probably be waived away saying its to early to tell by Bernie.

        And as they are contractually bound to race and there is money involved, it would be hard to just officially say they feel seriously uncomfortable with going there to support the regime now.

        • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 31st May 2011, 22:06

          The insurance might actually end up being what stops it. I think teams would have a hard time finding insurance for travel there.

          • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 1st June 2011, 8:45

            I wonder if they are all trying to have talks with their insurance to say no to insuring that trip to Bahrain, but without having it on record they asked for that …

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 31st May 2011, 22:04

        I thought McLaren was Abu Dhabi owned, not Bahrain…

      • MuzzleFlash said on 31st May 2011, 22:05

        I wasn’t aware McLaren were part owned by Bahrain, are there any Bahraini companies on the car? I think I remember hearing a member of the Royal family was in the McLaren garage in Barcelona.

      • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 31st May 2011, 22:18

        I didn’t know it until today, but a Bahraini group have a 30% stake in McLaren. They own as much of McLaren as Ron Dennis and mansour Ojeh, but crucially a further 29% of shares are “unissued”. What surprised me is that Daimler still own 11%!

        • DeadManWoking said on 31st May 2011, 23:42

          Mercedes no longer has any shares in McLaren, their remaining shares were acquired by Mumtalakat.

          He (McLaren Automotives Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific regional director Ian Gorsuch) said with Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company having a 42 per cent stake in McLaren Group as well as a 50pc stake in McLaren Automotive, Bahrain is considered a home away from home by the company.

          Gulf Daily News – The voice of Bahrain

          http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?srch=1&storyid=275685

      • mitchibob (@mitchibob) said on 31st May 2011, 23:14

        Bernie is obviously trying to keep out of the politics and only letting ‘official’ reports affect his view. However, in light of certain reports from the country, you’d have to say that safety of the teams is probably of least concern, considering they seem to have a lot of additional security forces there.

        Certain teams, from a sponsorship point of view, will almost certainly have to show some support for the Bahrain GP, even if they’d rather not this season. Perhaps they should all choose to go back to tobacco sponsors next year?

      • Klon (@klon) said on 31st May 2011, 23:27

        No one yet seems to have considered the plight of the people who live there, and how reinstating the GP will affect them

        And this is why I loathe politics and I don’t want to have anything to do with them in regards with F1. Ever thought not having the race would hurt the people much more? No, of course you didn’t, that would require thinking about the consequences of one’s actions. This is an ability most humans seem to lack. Just as long one can satisfy his own hypocritial sense of “justice” it just doesn’t matter what happens afterwards, does it?

        • Klon (@klon) said on 31st May 2011, 23:36

          Although I might have read your post wrong. If that (having the race would be better for them) was not your implication, forgive me for targeting you. But my point still stands, if not directed at a specific person.

          • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 1st June 2011, 8:51

            Yes having the race might help the government and those (possibly a majority of the country) who aren’t being suppressed by that government – so it rewards the oppression. Not sure how that helps much.

          • Klon (@klon) said on 1st June 2011, 14:38

            Well, my dear bosyber, in itself that is a valid thought – I agree, if we go political, we must not support the gouvernment. However, we know that the race is important to major persons in the country. What do you think will happen if the race is canceled? Obviously, the head figures of the uprisings (and maybe even their families, if the gouvernment is as evil as claimed) will literally bite the bullets. Whereas due to the public attention, we might see some “merciful” punishments to make them look good. At least that is my current expectation of things to happen.

        • Mike said on 1st June 2011, 8:48

          It shows strong support for the government, I’m going to assume Ned doesn’t think strengthening the governments already tight grasp of it’s population is a good thing.

          You do I think, have a very valid point. But to be honest, until the Bahrain’s population is able have influence in who leads them and worship who or what they please things are never really going to be very good.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 1st June 2011, 0:03

      Good thing we already heard from Brawn, otherwise we might be led to believe the teams really do not mind.

      Bernie is only saying that the teams have no objections to returning to Bahrain. Ross Brawn says the teams object to having a December 11 date for the season finale.

      Two completely different things.

  2. ajokay said on 31st May 2011, 21:33

    So he doesn’t know at all. Once again with Bernie is a load of ‘thinks’ they ‘mights’ ‘if’ what he wants to happen happens, followed by a ‘we’ll see’. We shall indeed see, Mr E.

  3. Alistair said on 31st May 2011, 21:35

    “I think the teams are happy, yeah. If it’s all safe and everything’s good I think the teams would be happy to support it.”
    “I don’t know. I mean, I haven’t been there, you get stories about these things.”
    I could quote more.
    I would say He speaks, as always, Doublespeak. Oh and has he forgotten what Ross Brawn said:-
    “So personally I think it is unacceptable and we’ve told Bernie that and he knows our opinion. If we continue to take those sort of approaches then we will run into problems because our people cannot be expected to work in that environment and situation, so I think it is totally unacceptable.” http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/91911

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 31st May 2011, 21:46

      That link is already in the article.

      • Alistair said on 31st May 2011, 22:01

        What? OK Sorry, that a bit blunt. Dose it change my point? I thought it was only good practice to link if you quote. Oh well. I was only commenting! That’s ALL!

        • MagillaGorilla (@magillagorilla) said on 1st June 2011, 1:49

          Well Keith is the guy that runs this website so I think he’s just trying to quickly remind you that you’re repeating what is already given in the article. He just wanted to let you know that you didn’t have to put the link again since it’s already there he was just being nice about it. Furthermore, you shouldn’t take things to heart like someone is out to get you.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 1st June 2011, 7:50

          No, that’s fine, I just prefer to make it clear when I have already linked to something.

  4. Tango said on 31st May 2011, 21:47

    The good thing with the championship being one sided : if it carries on, top teams will be less enticed to run if Bahrain came to be put on the calendar.

    I hope Williams stick to their last quote on Bahrain.

  5. Ned Flanders said on 31st May 2011, 21:52

    Ecclestone doesn’t care what happens to the people of Bahrain, that much is clear. Shame on him for that. But, at stake in this situation is not only the future of Bahrain, but also the future of F1.

    Over the years Ecclestone has proven himself to be a rather intelligent bloke. So, why is he being so short sighted about Bahrain?? Surely he realises that by reinstating Bahrain he will be dragging the reputation of F1 through the mud for the umpteenth time??

    • S.J.M (@sjm) said on 31st May 2011, 22:29

      I seriously think Bernies loosing his edge, his interviews on BBC seem to imitate my nan and her rather shakey & unsure answering to things that are asked of her. F1 cant be serious about going to Bahrain, surley?

      It was only 2 weeks ago that we’re reading about 1/3 of the circuits staff were arrested and various other sufferings to the people of Bahrain, yet life is restoring itself to normality? I have to ask, who is it thats got this normality?

      • Ned Flanders said on 31st May 2011, 22:37

        These days, I just turn the TV off when the BBC team are interviewing up him. To see Jake Humprhey and Eddie Jordan cosying up to him as though he was some sort of loveable grandad sickens me…

        • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 1st June 2011, 8:53

          Almost as bad as Brundle wanting Briatore’s comments, I agree.

        • Leon said on 2nd June 2011, 18:55

          Nauseating, as you say NF.

          And if you read other F1 sites, it’s quite clear that there’s a sophisticated F1 ceremonial dance taking place
          right now. I goes like this… ‘well we daren’t actually criticise the Bahraini Government because of all the dosh they give us, so we all have to look pained, invent other excuses for not going there this year and pretend to wring our hands and shrug our shoulders etc, etc, etc…….as I said. Nauseating !

      • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 1st June 2011, 10:04

        I think Bernie just wants to stay friendly with the Bahrain regime. And I also think he knows there won’t be a grand prix this year.

        But, he has to make it look like he doesn’t mingle in the politics and does everything he can to get trough with the race.

        While at the smae time giving the teams two non political arguments: their employees’ holidays (by ‘trying to reschedule’ India) and the insurance companies.

        In the end, there will be no GP this year in Bahrain, but F1 kept outside politics and Bernie can either get the money from Bahrain for the years to come, or he can use them in his negotiations with potential new races (‘we have a full calender’ ‘look what others pay’). Never underestimate this man.

    • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 1st June 2011, 2:17

      F1 went to South Africa in the 1980s – right in the middle of the apartheid era. That worries me slightly because he has a history of running these races anyway despite the environment surrounding it.

  6. ROSSI said on 31st May 2011, 22:22

    going to bahrain again,especially this or next year,would(in my eyes anyway)totally tarnish formula 1`s reputation,which isnt fair really as it should be mr e`s rep that gets the tarnishing,for trying to ram this race down everyone`s throat, when quite clearly there`s an undertone of unwillingness from just about everybody,not to run the race(this yr anyway). come on bernie-leave well alone,it will only be a few million,that doesnt slide into your well greased pocket !!

  7. LHJBFTW (@lhjbftw) said on 31st May 2011, 22:57

    I hope it doesn’t come to this but the drivers could refuse to race.
    I could see people like Jenson Button, Mark Webber and Rubens who all seem to be the type of people not to race on principal. And once a few refuse I can’t see many wanting to race. (could be HTR’s only win ;))

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 31st May 2011, 23:21

      Drivers are under contract to race though, so if the teams are insured, safety is confirmed, and the race does go ahead, I doubt you’ll see any drivers defying their teams. They would only do that with the support of their team, and I doubt any team is gonna make that stand alone. It would take a couple teams at least being unified in their boycott.

      • Mike said on 1st June 2011, 8:58

        I think if the drivers LHJBFTW mentioned feel strongly about the issue they would do something. It’s guys like Webber who will stand up for principle despite it risking their seat.

        • LHJBFTW (@lhjbftw) said on 1st June 2011, 9:48

          That’s why I mentioned those drivers. I think they are the sort of people who would have strong feelings on this and would break a contract because of their strong feelings.

          • SparkyJ23 (@sparkyj23) said on 1st June 2011, 13:37

            I can see Webber & Ruebens standing up but JB? Where does that come from.

            The people who could REALLY have an effect are the folk who would be most at risk – the mechanics & support staff. Much harder to replace a complete pitcrew than a single driver.

          • Mike said on 1st June 2011, 13:47

            Knowing that Webber is one of the ones who would stand up for his principals makes me proud that he is Australian.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 2nd June 2011, 19:38

            Webber did speak up on Twitter (@AussieGrit), way to go Mark:

            When people in a country are being hurt, the issues are bigger than sport. Let’s hope the right decision is made..

  8. butterdori (@butterdori) said on 31st May 2011, 23:21

    He said “I don’t know” three times in that statement. Enough said really….

    Furthermore, I also appreciate Brawn speaking out on the teams’ concerns. Although admittedly it is self-interested, you really cannot argue political points on positions like his.

    • Ned Flanders said on 1st June 2011, 1:55

      He said “I don’t know” three times in that statement. Enough said really….

      That’s pretty damning isn’t it…

  9. Maciek said on 31st May 2011, 23:35

    ugh… it’s only a matter of time before the apologists chime in. This thing has been dragging on for so loooooong. Would anyone support a Chinese GP in 1989? How about a Hungarian GP in 1956? What about a North Korean GP next year? Have I bought products made by Cambodian children during the past year?

    Ambiguous? – sure. But here it’s pretty ******* clear: the people doing the shooting are the same ones paying Bernie and FOM and the teams. No ambiguity there. It’s ******* dirty. It’s dirty and it’s sick.

    Which team principal was it that was quoted here anonymously last week saying that Bernie used to be good for F1 but has become a burden? Time to step up.

  10. Tom said on 1st June 2011, 0:04

    If the Bahrain Grand Prix takes place, I won’t be watching it and I won’t purchase tickets for any Grand Prix until Bernie resigns.

  11. TheBrav3 said on 1st June 2011, 4:01

    This is b/s how many “final” dead lines have been passed already? If this was a new circuit making it’s opening on the calendar they’d have already been told. No thank you cheers for the money you gave us but you’re not getting a race.

    Let’s hope either the teams the bbc or insurance companys will not allow it. (jake did say the bbc would have been unlikely to go there if only for safety concerns) Either way I wont watch, it’s the least I can do as a viewer of the sport. Bleedin boring race anyways. All this actually makes me wish vettel will win the championship by the hungaroring then there’s no chance of any team wanting to go out there.

  12. VXR said on 1st June 2011, 8:48

    All this actually makes me wish vettel will win the championship by the hungaroring then there’s no chance of any team wanting to go out there.

    And if Vettel is just a few points ahead of another driver, after the race in Brazil?

    Unless you’re an F1 fan, Bahrain hasn’t really been in the news much for a while. Perhaps the best way to let people outside your country know that you still exist, is to have a race there? I wonder what’s happening in China right now?

  13. Adrian J (@adrian-j) said on 1st June 2011, 9:48

    When the Foreign office is still issuing the following advice:

    We advise against all but essential travel to Bahrain until further notice.

    I don’t think the race should go ahead and I think (as others have said) the limiting factor will be team staff being able to get insurance cover.

    http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/middle-east-north-africa/bahrain

  14. Sherlock said on 1st June 2011, 10:34

    So people don’t want F1 to “take a political side” by holding the event due to unrest and won’t (i presume by overall atmosphere in comments) until:

    1) The opposition has won?
    2) Bahrain royals goes exile?
    3) Your option?

  15. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 1st June 2011, 13:15

    Sounds like he’s clutching at straws to be honest. I fully expect people will be quick to deny agreeing with Ecclestone, like Ross Brawn has.

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