Ecclestone: ‘We cannot make teams race in Bahrain’

F1 Fanatic round-up

In the round-up: Bernie Ecclestone says “If the teams don?t want to go [to Bahrain], then we cannot make them”.

Links

Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Ecclestone steps back over Bahrain (The Times, subscription required)

“Mr Ecclestone said he sympathised with the teams? anxieties. ‘If the teams don?t want to go, then we cannot make them,’ he said.”

F1 teams want FIA to postpone Bahrain Grand Prix (The Guardian)

“I feel very uncomfortable about going to Bahrain. If I’m brutally frank, the only way they can pull this race off without incident is to have a complete military lock-down there. And I think that would be unacceptable, both for Formula One and for Bahrain. But I don’t see any other way they can do it.”

Home-made bomb injures seven Bahrain policemen (Reuters)

“Seven Bahraini policemen were wounded, three of them seriously, when a home-made bomb exploded on Monday, an Interior Ministry spokesman said, during a protest near the capital calling for the release of an activist on a two-month hunger strike.”

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja’s death would be a stain on Bahrain (The Guardian)

“We, the undersigned, call on the government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release leading human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, whose life is now in grave danger as he enters the 61st day of his hunger strike, begun in protest at his detention and treatment.”

Bahrain opposition raises pressure to scrap F1 (ABC)

Al-Wefaq (Bahrain opposition party) leader Khalil al-Marzuk: “It is unlikely that the race will be held if Abdel Hadi Khawaja or Hassan Mashaima is harmed.”

Bahraini hunger striker’s daughter speaks out (Al Jazeera via YouTube)

Bahrain?s Interior Ministry adviser says F1 security plans aim to be ‘low key and discreet’ (The Washington Post)

Bahrain Interior Ministry advisor John Yates: “It?s a really important event for this country. It?s hugely important for the economy. There is nothing that in any way warrants for the race to be postponed.”

Pressure on to re-think Bahrain GP (BBC)

Human Rights Watch spokesman Joe Stork: “On the ground we see an increasing number of deaths, and serious injuries from tear gas and beatings.”

A Reporter, in Iran in 1978, Will Cover F1 in Bahrain in 2012 (New York Times)

“The Bahrain Grand Prix… is clearly being used by the ruling family as a way to try to solve its political problems; or at least to show off to the world that despite the uprising, Bahrain is one nation, and life is back to normal. The organizations have created the following slogan for the race to state that fact: ‘Unif1ed ? One Nation in Celebration.’ How does that differ from the Turkish podium heist?”

COTA seeks arbitration in Hellmund lawsuit (Austin-American Statesman)

“In March, racing promoter Tavo Hellmund filed a lawsuit against investors Bobby Epstein and Red McCombs and other individuals and companies linked to Circuit of the Americas, the $300 million racetrack in southeastern Travis County scheduled to host a Formula One Grand Prix in November. The courts are now deciding what ? if any ? portion of that dispute will be made public.”

Gilles Villeneuve at Long Beach (MotorSport)

“I?ve had the pleasure of covering all 37 Long Beach GPs, starting with the inaugural F5000 race, and have many fond memories of the place. But none can exceed the sparkle of our old friend and hero Gilles Villeneuve in action through the California streets in Long Beach?s heyday as a Formula One race.”

Comment of the day

Is Paul Ricard’s distinctive striped run-off really that good at slowing cars down? StefMeister has doubts:

I’d go with 1A. Closest to the original F1 layout and a pretty fast, flowing layout which when used in other categories has produced some decent racing.

Just a shame Paul Ricard is now such an ugly track to watch racing on because of the striped tarmac run-off. Tarmac run-off that clearly works brilliantly to slow the cars down:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1iikw_2005-f1-paul-ricard-testing-wurz_auto

StefMeister

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Roberttty!

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On this day in F1

Sebastian Vettel claimed his fourth consecutive win with victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix a year ago today.

It remains his longest consecutive streak of victories.

Jenson Button finished second ahead of Nick Heidfeld.

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54 comments on Ecclestone: ‘We cannot make teams race in Bahrain’

  1. Mouse_Nightshirt (@mouse_nightshirt) said on 10th April 2012, 1:42

    Looks to me as if Bernie is setting the scene for abandoning the race.

    I just don’t get why he’s willing to let the sport get such bad press in the meantime.

    • Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta) said on 10th April 2012, 1:56

      Because Bernie, as commercial leader of F1, can only pull Bahrain for commercial reasons. Bahrain hasn’t broken any of the relevant commercial terms, so only the organiser and the FIA can cancel.

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 10th April 2012, 2:39

      Surely Bahrain money is much more important.

    • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 10th April 2012, 3:53

      Looks to me as if Bernie is setting the scene for abandoning the race

      No, Bernie is setting the scene to cover himself. Otherwise, I assure you, Bernie still wants Bahrain race to go ahead.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 10th April 2012, 6:45

        I love the way so many people think they know Bernie so well that they instinctively know what his intentions are.

        • ivz (@ivz) said on 10th April 2012, 7:37

          Bahrain should have been dropped from the calendar after all this happened last year! Plain and simple.

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 10th April 2012, 8:00

            @ivz – And what woudl you say if the Bahraini government actually cleaned up their act before the new year? What if they sat down with the protesters and sorted things out, and on 1 Janaury 2012, the country underwent all the reforms the protesters wanted. Would you still deny them a race then?

        • OOliver said on 10th April 2012, 7:40

          We don’t need to know Bernie too well to know he is greedy.
          He is in a no win situation with Bahrain. There will be no peace because both sides are die hards.
          You can’t reach a compromise when two parties sit at extreme ends of a table.

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 10th April 2012, 8:06

            I see a lot of people saying “Bernie’s greedy, Bernie’s greedy”, but I’ve never actually seen any proof of it. Do you actually think that ten minutes after he is paid the race sanctioning fees, the money winds up in an account in the Cayman Islands with Bernie’s name on it?

            Yes, Bernie charges a lot for races. But he does it for a reason – in the past eight years, Formula 1 has branched out at a race of (on average) one new race per season. The sport has expanded out to places that a decade ago never would have seemed possible. And at the same time, there has been a lot of interest from other countries wanting a race. Bernie puts the prices up to limit the races to countries that can only really afford to have a race, especially with countries using Grands Prix as a symbol of their development because the money comes from the government. Without those prices, everyone from Bhutan to Zimbabwe would be spending money on Grands Prix that they don’t need and cannot afford. When was the last time a sorely-underdeveloped nation tried to bid for a Grand Prix? It’s never happened, because the price is a barrier to entry.

            And since there is a fixed number of calendar spots, there can only ever be so many races in a season. With half a dozen countries bidding for only one or two vacant calendar slots, simple economics dictates that low supply and high demand will drive up prices.

          • phildick (@phildick) said on 10th April 2012, 9:51

            @prisoner-monkeys Even if he’s not greedy, then his family is, for sure.

          • Andy said on 10th April 2012, 10:30

            prisoner,

            You say that he is asking alot of money so that only the races that can afford participate. I do not think that is correct. By putting up such high fees he makes it unbarable for most circuits to make profits. There is not one circuit that makes a profit, even not on a macro-economic level. Look at Spa: one of the best circuits on the calender is about to partly quit f1. That’s not a good sign.

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 10th April 2012, 11:12

            Look at Spa: one of the best circuits on the calender is about to partly quit f1. That’s not a good sign.

            Right, because the only thing stopping Spa from holding a race on a yearly basis is the race fee. I’m sure the fragile state of the European economy and protracted political disputes centred on the Wallonia region – where the circuit is located – have absolutely nothing to do with it.

          • Andy said on 10th April 2012, 16:21

            No indeed it has only little to do with what you mentioned. The last decade the circuit never made profits, even in solid economic times. And the politic dispute about the track is nothing more then an excuse from the opposition to stop putting money in a money loosing project, which is nothing more then a storm in a glass (it made the news a few times, but that’s all). Believe me I know; I am from Belgium.

            And it’s not only Belgium. Name one circuit that makes profit without any kind of government support. There is none. Circuits like Spa even get a discount so that it isn’t as money loosing as it could be; circuits which have full tribunes simply have to pay more.

          • vjanik said on 10th April 2012, 16:36

            PM,
            i think Bernie should be choosing new tracks based on how good they are to race on and which country they are in (fan base, geographical location, variety in calendar, etc). This way the selection process would be more meaningful for all the fans and teams, and the track owners could actually make a profit and be able to hold a a race in the long run. A much better way of selecting new venues than by using supply and demand. Apart from trying to make as much money as possible, there isn’t a logical explanation for charging such high fees. Charging high fees, to make sure countries are able to afford races for the long term, doesn’t make any sense. Its actually paradoxical and circular.

            Its like “raising tuition fees to make sure those students that are permitted are able to afford it.” Now that is just an absurd way of justifying it.

        • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 10th April 2012, 15:21

          @prisoner-monkeys

          I love the way so many people think they know Bernie so well that they instinctively know what his intentions are.

          Look who is talking. Btw, it’s not instinctively, it’s by fact. But why are you so protective of Bernie?

          Bernie has made his intentions and opinions perfectly clear in regards to Bahrain. Do I have to copy and paste everything he said within the past several months? Anyway.. In the past, Bernie has shown to change his position only when there is no alternative.

          I am not trying to prove that Bernie is some greedy person (nor do I want to), but you can’t prove that he is not. Everything we see in this case indicates that his decisions are driven by $.

  2. matt90 (@matt90) said on 10th April 2012, 1:46

    Regarding COTD, I guess he dropped it in an unusual way, and had he actually had a wheel attached for greater friction, the strips might have done their job. It is surprising just how ineffective it was though.

    Regarding Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, I read reports today fearing that he may have already died, due to his lawyer and family apparently being denied access.

    • LAK said on 10th April 2012, 1:56

      He’s definitely not dead, otherwise we would have heard so. They are preventing this from happening by taking good care of him and giving him what’s necessary to keep him alive.

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 10th April 2012, 2:00

        Why would we have heard necessarily? I suppose you’re right though and he could be drip-fed or something.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th April 2012, 2:20

        LAK, I am beginning to come over to your side, F1 is doing a pretty good job of highlighting the discontent in Bahrain and this group of stories about dissenters and repression in newspapers that had lost interest more than a year ago just shows how effective the opposition is, it also of course shows that people in Bahrain can speak their mind and oppose the authority. I think on balance the GP will give both sides a chance to influence world opinion.

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th April 2012, 2:37

          @LAK, please explain the actual crime for which this person was given a life sentence, it really does sound excessive for civil diobedience.

          • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th April 2012, 3:02

            Oh dear, LAK let me answer for you, having just read the Guardian article, the crime was plotting to overthrow the monarchy. Your civil authorities really have gone over the top haven’t they? The heavy handed and brutal response to last years demonstrations is no doubt the reason that the demonstrators are becoming violent and their cause is gaining sympathy worldwide. It is too late to go back now and maintain the status quo, your King will have to make massive concessions now if he wants this to go away and wants to be able to hold any Gran Prix in the future.

  3. TheJudge (@thejudge) said on 10th April 2012, 2:22

    This whole show around Bahrain and the Bahrain GP creates a question for me- which pocket does this feed?
    If F1 does need to go there,then it’s defenetly Berny&co pocket.
    If he would be such a good man who cares about the sport not the money that it makes,there would not be any talk like this,there would be no Bahrain gp un the calendar or in the f1 news a year ago.
    How they would even consider bahrain as a posibility now?

  4. Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 10th April 2012, 2:47

    Bahrain is done, isn’t it? And looking at the calendar, I see no way it gets reinserted into a later date – unless they do a deal with India again. Given that such a deal would extend the calendar into December – which is unprecedented – I seriously doubt that will happen.

    One (negligible in the circumstances) downside to the cancellation of Bahrain – we will have a mini-summer break now. There will be FOUR weeks between China and Spain.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th April 2012, 3:06

      Magny Cour, European GP in the middle, anyone ?

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 10th April 2012, 7:40

        @hohum – With Bahrain taking place in just twelve days, it would be impossible to organise a race in time. Not unless Bernie gave it to them for free (which he might be willing to do if he wants twenty races this year). And set the date back to 29 April or the first weekend of May. Magny-Cours would be a good choice, because if you drew a triangle with England (for most of the teams) at one point, Italy (for Ferrari and Toro Rosso) and Spain (for the next Grand Prix and HRT), then the circuit is roughly in the middle of that. Even if all of that was possible, the teams would need to agree to it; the FIA needs the approval of the teams if they want to change the calendar mid-season. The teams would need plenty of warning, and probably something to sweeten the deal for them (like FOM paying all travel expenses to and from the race, the way they did for the new teams in 2010). And we’d all have to put up with empty grandstands at the circuit, unless the gates are thrown open.

        But I don’t think it’s possible. There isn’t enough time to get a race organised. So if Bahrain is cancelled, then I think we’ll just have nineteen Grands Prix this year.

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th April 2012, 22:23

          @prisoner monkeys, thank you for expanding on my suggestion and pointing out the pros and cons. I would like to add a further pro, the circuit owners seem keen to get back to being a GP venue and with todays internet ticket and accommodation sales I imagine they could sell a lot of tickets if the price was reasonable as it could be if Bernie would forgo his fees.

    • Aditya said on 10th April 2012, 7:00

      That would be sad. And China and Spain arent my favourite circuits :( Is there any chance of pre-poning the Spanish race by a week?? To have only 1 F1 race in 7 weeks would be terrible :(

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 10th April 2012, 8:20

      With that court case in Austin, it seems there are people who think that race might not go ahead, would leave a spot open in the future ….

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 10th April 2012, 11:50

      If the race is cancelled, then we can finger point Bernie and FIA for not dropping Bahrain from 2012 calendar.

    • Paul (@vodaclone) said on 10th April 2012, 23:48

      Is Paul Richard ready to host?

  5. Dave (@davea86) said on 10th April 2012, 3:43

    The ironic thing about all this is that the Bahraini government are trying to use the race to show that everything’s ok, but it’s created so much press and none of it is positive. Even if the race goes ahead I get the feeling that the prevailing international opinion of Bahrain is that everything is not ok.

    If the race is cancelled there’s going to be a massive gap in the season. I wonder if it’s possible to put a test session in there? I guess it depends on how late the Bahrain GP is cancelled (if it is), and whether there’s room in the rules to add a test session. And if the teams are up for it of course, I bet Ferrari are.

  6. Wooolfy said on 10th April 2012, 5:25

    Without the Bahrain GP, I would not have been aware of the plight of it’s people or read with any interest the occurances there. For that, I suggest that from the opposition/protesters point of view, the race goes ahead, as it is a vehicle, bringing the media’s and world’s attention to the civil situation there. Without the GP I probably wouldn’t care to read or watch the media articles on their protest.

  7. BasCB (@bascb) said on 10th April 2012, 6:25

    A happy birthday to you @roberttty

  8. BasCB (@bascb) said on 10th April 2012, 6:39

    Hm, after reading that article about COTA wanting to settle the argument with Hellmund in arbitration several times now I am unsure what to make of it.
    When I read about this yesterday evening, I applauded both sides for wanting to settle this out of court. But now, after seeing it another couple of times I get the impression its getting more ugly. Seems COTA would want it solve in arbitration to keep it under covers. And Hellmund is fighting that in court to be able to cry foul in an open courtroom. Messy.

    My advise: Tavo, I fully understand that you feel sc***d but please understand that you will not gain any sympathy for going dirty laundry washing in public. Just make them pay you for what was not fair, and be celebrated by the fans for bringing F1 back to the USA. COTA please get around to solving this matter without further mess.

  9. BasCB (@bascb) said on 10th April 2012, 6:46

    Hm, after reading that article about COTA wanting to settle the argument with Hellmund in arbitration several times now I am unsure what to make of it.
    When I read about this yesterday evening, I applauded both sides for wanting to settle this out of court. But now, after seeing it another couple of times I get the impression its getting more ugly. Seems COTA would want it solve in arbitration to keep it under covers. And Hellmund is fighting that in court to be able to cry foul in an open courtroom. Messy.

    My advise: Tavo, I fully understand that you feel badly done by but please understand that you will not gain any sympathy for going dirty laundry washing in public. Just make them pay you for what was not fair, and be celebrated by the fans for bringing F1 back to the USA. COTA please get around to solving this matter without further mess.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 10th April 2012, 7:57

      @bascb

      Tavo, I fully understand that you feel badly done by but please understand that you will not gain any sympathy for going dirty laundry washing in public. Just make them pay you for what was not fair

      But was what Epstein and McCombs did really that unfair? Sure, they took away his baby … but the circuit was in breach of its contract when Hellmund was running things. For months. Bernie Ecclestone was concerned about the sitaution in Austin in November, but I believe he later admitted that Hellmund had been in breach of the contract since late May. That’s incredible leniency on Ecclestone’s part – normally he’d just pull the trigger and be done with it – and it wasn’t until Epstein and McCombs got together that the stop-work order was lifted. They even paid the race sanctioning fee for 2012 as a show of good faith. So I fail to see how Hellmund can claim to be so poorly treated. If it weren’t for him, the circuit never would have been in jeopardy in the first place. And now he’s got the gall to try and wrest control of the circuit back from the people who actually made progress with the circuit, and he wants to do it all in an open court, further jeopardising the race that he claims he alone can actually see happen.

      To be honest, I’ve never liked Hellmund. He strikes me as being like Flavio Briatore. Briatore never cared much for the actual racing – Formula 1 was all about him. I got the distinct impression that, to his mind, he was a bigger star than his drivers. If Fernando Alonso won two World Championships, it wasn’t because he was natraully talented; it was because of Briatore’s management of the team, and because Braitore recognised the spark of talent in Alonso when no-one else did. I get a similar vibe off Hellmund. The racing doesn’t actually matter; this is the Tavo Hellmund Show. The whole thing is one giant advertisement for him. I can’t actually name any of the other circuit organisers and promoters (except Ron Walker, but only because his name gets mentioned at least once during the Australian Grand Prix weekend), but everywhere I look around Austin, it’s Hellmund, Hellmund, Hellmund.

      If he really cares about the race going ahead, and if really feels he has a legitimate grievance, and if he really feels that he can help the race, then perhaps the best thing he can do is leave well enough alone – at least until Monday, November 19th.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 10th April 2012, 8:08

        Well, @Prisoner-monkeys, fact is that Hellmund was the one who brought F1 to the US based on his long term good relations with Bernie. And its clear that money and control was probably at the core of the split between COTA and Hellmund.
        For the rest, I would be glad if they just sorted it out between themselves, as I really do not feel inclined to judge on who was right/wrong to a greater extent here, nor am I much interested in it.

        • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 10th April 2012, 8:23

          Well said @bascb. Having invested so much effort and money in it, be adults and figure out how to make it happen please. Preferably without laundry hanging and shouting matches, but quietly.

          If there is a big story to tell I’m sure someone will sell it to a journalist and we’ll hear about it anyway some time in the future.

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 10th April 2012, 8:26

          Hellmund was the one who brought F1 to the US based on his long term good relations with Bernie

          Which is probably why Bernie was so tolerant of him when he was in breach of his contract – but his relations with Bernie don’t count for much when it was Hellmund who put the race in jeopardy by letting the situation get to the point where a stop-work order was issued.

          • Solo (@solo) said on 10th April 2012, 17:34

            Hellmund was in breach of contract because the others led it go there so they can get rid of him.

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 11th April 2012, 3:42

            @solo – If that’s true, then that just makes Hellmund incompetent, and unfit to manage the event.

          • Solo (@solo) said on 11th April 2012, 11:34

            It has nothing to do with his ability to manage anything. As you say he was the manager not the guy with the money. The contract was violated because FOM didn’t get it’s money on time but the reason it didn’t get it was because the people with the money wanted him out of the way.
            Being a bad manager means being given trust to manage things and making a mess of it. He was never given trust though since they didn’t want him in the way. If they trusted him and he screw-upend then ok but they didn’t. They never let him manage things.

  10. Rob Wilson said on 10th April 2012, 9:45

    Just cancel it. Forever. F1 is no good for Bahrain and Bahrain is no good for F1.

  11. BasCB (@bascb) said on 10th April 2012, 12:13

    Interesting, Andrew Benson just RT’d a few tweets from a mr. @alaashehabi, who was apparently called by Bernie about the Bahrain situation

    Bernie Ecclestone just gave me a call on his way to China. He is very concerned with the situation in #Bahrain and with Abdulhadi Alkhawaja
    Ecclestone told me he is being told that Alkhawaja has had breakfast, lunch & dinner. I told him he is being force fed, which is torture
    Ecclestone: I was told by govt that Alkhawaja will be released after his trial & will then deport him 2 Denmark & strip him of citizenship
    Ecclestone: I want the opposition 2 have a press conference in which opposition can get their message across & 4 open dialogue #Bahrain #F1
    I tried 2 get the point across that he needs 2 give strong messages 2 govt & cancel the race because we want 2 enjoy it too but we can’t #F1

    Now personally I do not know how reliable that is, but after reading the comments from Bernie above in the Roundup, It does seem like Bernie is in action to get out of the crisis somehow now.

  12. moshbeard (@moshbeard) said on 10th April 2012, 12:28

    It’s unbelievable that it was ever decided to go back there in the first place. Even if things calmed down for the next couple years I don’t think F1 should be back in Bahrain in the next decade at least.

  13. Kazuki (@formula-1) said on 10th April 2012, 16:18

    This is a notice to all who are free on Saturday’s from 10-11AM. If you fancy a race come over to the F1F Formula Two World Championship, at the moment we don’t have many racers and we could definietly do with more to keep us on our toes. So if you are interested sign in to the thread and register with @jamiefranklinf1 if you are a visiter to the site and see this, just create an account and register. You will all have a great time I can assure you.

  14. Solo (@solo) said on 10th April 2012, 17:40

    Bernie you are such a sly fox. Teams are free not to go huh? Damn the guy is unbelievable.
    He woke-up today and said “Hmm.. that Bahrain situation isn’t going good, lets make a comment to throw responsibility out of myself”.

  15. Lothario said on 10th April 2012, 18:07

    Hopefully, the final nail in the coffin of Paul Ricard’s chances to host the French GP, Magny Cours here we come!

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