Mark Webber, Red Bull, Bahrain, 2012

Ecclestone and crown prince insist race will go on

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Bahrain, 2012Bernie Ecclestone and Bahrain’s crown prince have refused to consider cancelling this weekend’s race amid rising concern about the situation in the country.

Force India did not participate in the second practice session on Friday after several of their team members were involved in an incident earlier in the week.

Sauber team members also witnessed protests and fires when returning to their hotel yesterday.

Despite rising concerns over the political situation in the country and the safety of participants, Ecclestone insisted he is powerless to stop the race:

“I can’t call this race off. Nothing to do with us. We’ve an agreement to be here, and we’re here.

“The national sporting authority in this country can call the race off. You can ask the FIA if they can.”

Bahrain crown prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa said: “I think cancelling the race just empowers extremists.

“For those of us trying to navigate a way out of this political problem, having the race allows us to build bridges across communities, to get people working together. It allows us to celebrate our nation. It is an idea that is positive, not one that is divisive.”

The hacking group Anonymous threatened to take the website down earlier today. It has since become unavailable.

Politicians in Britain, including opposition leader Ed Miliband, have called for the race to be cancelled. A statement from the prime minister’s office admitted to “concern” over the race but stopped short of demanding it be cancelled.

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86 comments on “Ecclestone and crown prince insist race will go on”

  1. Bernie´s not working. Some unhappy guys from Anonymous promised to turn it “into a smoking crater in cyber space”:

    1. The site is up and running at full speed and with no other impacts that I could find after a decent pass through. Especially now in the age of AWS, DDOS is actually not that hard to overcome unless its done properly. is probably running in EC2, so this problem can quickly be solved with a bit of $$.

  2. “I can’t call this race off. Nothing to do with us. We’ve an agreement to be here, and we’re here.”

    Of course you can do something about it. It’s kind of like when you said that you had “no” choice when negotiating between the BBC and Sky. I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure you have many cards up your sleeve but you just dont want to use them.

    1. the show must go on :)

    2. Officially, he’s right. The commercial rights holder only has the power to call the race off if he hasn’t been paid, and nobody has ever accused the Bahrainis of holding onto their money. Practically, it would seem unlikely that Bernie couldn’t get the race cancelled if he really wanted to.

      1. Seeing as he strong armed J Totd into decaliring the FIA position happy re: security. I’m sure he could persuade him otherwise

  3. This is sick. I cannot wait for this weekend to be over. But I’m really not looking forward to the insensitive pro-regime boasting we’ll doubtless see on Monday. This is already a complete disaster and calling it anything else is disrespectful to the hundreds that have been injured/murdered/tortured.

    And it looks like it’s all kicking off again just now. Cannot believe this is going ahead. And the disgusting Tweets I’ve seen on Twitter are extremely concerning. Hard to believe some of these people are in fact human beings.

    1. This is sick. I cannot wait for this weekend to be over.

      Me too although it won’t be over the citizens of Bahrain after we’ve gone.

      Out of curiosity, what disgusting tweets have you seen?

      1. I wouldn’t be able to find them again, but people saying things like “The country is so happy to have F1! I wish the media would stop trying to ruin it for us.” (speak for yourself) and “This fake uprising has to stop. The terrorists must be punished.”

        Of course, some of the protesters are being unreasonable by going out of their way to hurt police (which I don’t agree with), but on the other hand, it didn’t start like that. Peaceful protests were met with an iron fist and brutal murders which is obviously going to cause people to become more violent.

        But apart from that, when these inhuman pro-regime monarchists label their opposition as terrorists, they completely ignore the countless thousands of peaceful protesters that have never used any form of violence. How are these people “extremists”? How are they “terrorists”? Wanting equal rights and democracy is terrorism? What nonsense. It’s completely twisted.

        Some would argue that western society should not impose their beliefs on other countries. But the calls for change didn’t originate through — as the monarchy would say — western media, but in fact from within their own country. Obviously, this is not ideal for the government, however.

        1. And much of that comment was me ranting, and not directly in response to you, @Steph! Apologies… :-P

  4. Interesting phrase from Bernie here: ‘I can’t call it off so late.’ Is he suggesting that he would call it off if he could???

    1. He’s had a year to do so and hasn’t bothered… I think it’s just a typical Bernie answer.

      1. But it’s not, I don’t know how it can be made any clearer to you, Bernie does NOT have that power, it could be years in advance or the day before he still cannot do it.

        1. He strong armed the FIA into deciding it was safe – I’m sure he’d have the same impact in reverse. Problem is there are rules regarding an event being cancelled in consecutive years – and his very close liason with the AK’s means they don’t want to be barred from applying for the forseable future

  5. Mr. Ecclestone – Bringing the sport into disrepute!

    I wish some more drivers had the balls to say something, or make some sort of a stand, I feel a bad about watching the race now (not sure I can boycott it on sunday)

    1. I believe Vettel said “I’ll be happy when we start testing… then we can worry about the stuff that really matters – tyre temps and cars”.

      Is that what you meant?

      1. No I meant show some support for the people being murdered by the regime…I love F1 but this event is getting uglier by the day. We should have skipped Bahrain again this year…Ecclestone cares for nothing other than money. As a Jenson fan I was a bit dissapointed that he commented that he was there to race and all the other issues were for the FIA to handle. I think the drivers (wether they race or not) should show a bit more support for the people of Bahrain.

        1. @jochenrindt78 The drivers have contracts to adhere to. I imagine if they didn’t say what they were told to say (let alone refuse to race) they’d be done for breach of contract and sacked or disciplined. I’d like to think that if it was me, I’d take a stand. But, would I want to risk my job and potentially put off other employers? Perhaps not.

          My other comment was meant to be tongue-in-cheek by the way, I know that’s not what you really meant. Although that is probably the most shocking example of what you’re referring to about the drivers in general.

          1. Although that is probably the most shocking example of what you’re referring to about the drivers in general.

            He was joking — although if even Autosport can’t be bothered to provide a little context, I certainly wouldn’t expect the average anti-Vettel fan to do so.

          2. Given that McLaren Group is 42% owned by the Bahraini government they are virtually employed by the regime.

          3. And that is not a choice the team members or even Whitmarsh made, they are stuck with the reality and Whitmarsh appears a ittle thin lipped

        2. No I meant show some support for the people being murdered by the regime

          The drivers have long maintained that it is not their place to go making political and moral statements.

    2. What I wonder is will any of the drivers or mechanics who’ve now been there first hand be willing to speak out about what they really saw? Or even go so far as to say they think it was a mistake and next year’s race should not be approved until the situation changes.

      1. Really need to proof read better. What I mean was would they be willing to speak out AFTER the race.

        1. I’m not so sure that pressure should be applied to team members be they drivers, mechanics or any other of the support team to make public statements. the fact is this event should have been cancelled but it hasn’t and the team have a job to do. Like most people, they are probably too ill informed to make public their opinions, and they are all representatives of teams which have sponsors and various business connections. For me it’s right that they quietly do they’re job, far too easy for any comments to be mis quoted out of context and get caught up in all sorts of issues. Again whats happening (in my ill informed opinion) is awful and F1 is in danger of it’s image being seriously tarnished, and i have every sympathy for those being persecuted but just feel that it’s best for the teams to remain quiet on the whole subject.

          1. After listening to one team members wife on Radio 2 today, who was very distressed, I’m sure things will be said on and off the record following this ridiculous weekend.

  6. Bernie is wrong- it has everything to do with him and the rest of F1.

    The Crown Prince is a either a liar or naive- this race so clearly isn’t building bridges with the three days of rage promised and which extremists is he talking about exactly? The protesters or those in a position of authority who are carrying out human rights abuses on civilians? That interview was a farce anyway with the man who has insisted all along that F1 and politics don’t mix with the guy who is backing the use of “UniF1ed”.

    I hope Anonymous do shut down the F1 website although I don’t normally agree with hacking it would serve F1 right.

    I’m glad red Ed has said something but for me, it’s a cynical political move when he’s saying it this late in the game- it’s like he’s just doing to try to score points from Cameron.

    We really aren’t separate from this no matter where in the globe we are I believe that we, the lucky ones able to watch F1, have a responsibility to those in Bahrain who are being oppressed and silenced (especially as it’s probably happening on a greater scale because it is an F1 weekend). We’re lucky that roles aren’t reversed. We’re lucky to be safely away from it all so all we have to do is type a few outraged words.

    Hats off to the Hulk for saying something especially when he’s really still a newbie to the paddock and the politics. Webber was the first to say something all the way back last year too so kudos to him too. I can’t hold one team more responsible than another as they’re all in the same boat but I so wish Ferrari with all their clout would say something.

    1. Respect to the Hulk for his comments at least..

      1. If nothing else Hulkenburg has shown that e will speak his mind. I like it.

    2. Steph, the rulers are no doubt ‘building bridges’ with all those people in Bahrain no doubt too scared to leave their houses this weekend. As always, those protesting will be classified as ‘isolated extremists’. And who’s in charge of security? None other than the former head of Scotland Yard. Who also spoke of being unable to deter a few ‘extremists’ this weekend, if they really want to protest. Which is precisely how the Metropolitan Police described the student protestors they’d beaten up (who, funnily enough, always retrospectively become the ‘isolated extremists’ looking to cause trouble by getting themselves knocked unconscious).

      Isn’t it vaguely disturbing that the former head of a police force in a democratic country calls pro-democracy activists ‘extremists’? Has he any idea of his own country’s history and how democracy had to be won? Or doesn’t he care and would the police much rather some nice autocratic rulers to deal with?

      1. I don’t necessarily disagree with what you say, but I think you ought to be accurate. I assume that you are describing John Yates, who is currently serving as an adviser to the Bahrain authorities on security. he’s not actually “in charge” of security – that seems to be Major-General Adel bin Khalifa bin Hamad Al Fadhel appointed in November last year.
        If you are describing John Yates, then you must also accept that he was not “in charge of Scotland Yard” or “a former head of a police force”. The public records show that John Yates was appointed Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Authority in January 2004 and to Assistant Commissioner in 2006, and as far as I am aware was never appointed as Commissioner. He resigned his post as Assistant Commissioner on 18 July 2011, he was never the Commissioner and was never “a former head of a police force”. Please tell me when you think he served as Commissioner.
        As I started out, I do not necessarily disagree with you, but I think accuracy is called for in this very emotive situation.

        1. I agree Tim and apologizes for not being more careful, my knowledge of UK current affairs isn’t totally up to scratch, not living there, and I misread a report yesterday.

  7. I think cancelling the race just empowers extremists.

    Interesting opinion. Just I think running the race further empowers unelected dictators, sorry monarchs, not adverse to taking extreme actions to suppress their political opponents and own people.

    1. Yes but who are the extremists? the protesters or the ruling royal family?

      1. oops reply in wrong place

      2. Sorry if the irony didn’t work very well. The ruling party. You can’t have an undemocratic system that resorts to violence and torture to suppress mostly peaceful pro-democracy activists and then call these activists ‘extremists.’ It’s an abuse of terminology. To go with the abuse of human rights his regime specializes in.

  8. It’s pretty disgusting they’re actually still going ahead with this. Signs have been the same for weeks now, every report condemning F1’s presence at this time has been ignored. Now it’s also unambiguously clear it is an unsafe place to be.

    I don’t expect F1 to be a beacon of morality, but right now they are the exact opposite. None of the teams, drivers or F1 staff members seem to want to be there at this time. Aside from moral objections, it’s clearly unsafe. The only reason anybody is in Bahrain is to dance for the crown prince’s whitewashing party, dutifully arranged by Ecclestone posing as a puppet.

    I’m not watching this weekend, hopefully I’m not alone.

  9. Problem is, the teams are penalised if they don’t participate. Bernie leaves it till the last minute, does nothing and says nothing, and the Monarchy is happy that it happens.

    Ultimately, FIA should have the balls to take responsibility and cancel the race, Bahrain can reapply to host a GP once they some semblance of stability. None of these “FIA Approved Experts” who have stated that it is safe and stable.

    F1 has become an embarrassment this weekend.

  10. The whole situation is an absolute disgrace to the sport. F1’s image and reputation has been irreparably damaged. The FIA and Bernie have put people’s lives at stake and I fear it’s only going to get worse as the weekend progresses.

  11. Friday afternoon only and already the negative fall-out for Formula 1 is huge. Remind me what the good part was. For Formula 1? No. The teams? No. The drivers? No. The people of Bahrain? Starting on unlikely and falling rapidly. Ah yes. Ecclestone and Bahrain’s rulers.

    1. Though it is a bit sick, I would contend that this race, whether it runs or not, is indeed good for the Bahraini people. At the very least it has drawn attention to their plight.

      As an example, how many people were thinking of them in the past year since the last time the Bahrain issue was discussed in F1 circles. I know my own usual media outlets have not mentioned at all.

      On an even sicker vein, how many of the seemingly rabid supporters of the Bahraini people in this forum will forget about them the minute this race is over?

      As I have stated before, what sickens me the most is the hypocracy of “arm-chair moralists” without the courage of their convictions to reach out with their own time and/or money, or to admit that their’s “…is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” – William Shakespeare.

      1. It’s probably true that few people commenting here or anywhere else will actually do much for the people of Bahrain afterwards. But the media and internet attention has at least (a) prevented the race from enhancing the image of the country’s rulers and (b) maybe restrained them so far from some of their more extreme measures of controlling their own population. As for the race maybe being a good thing for the Bahraini people, I’m in more position to judge.

        1. oops, no position to judge!

  12. This is the last straw for me. Ecclestone has to go. How do we best get rid of him?

    1. Ask the people of Bahrain for some advice? They seem to have the same kind of problem.

  13. From Kevin Eason: Reports of up to 50,000 people on the streets of Bahrain. Verification is needed but seems escalation in #Bahrain is rapid and potentially dangerous. Fingers crossed.
    Anyway, Bernie is gambling that people will forget quickly once this race is done and he can count his money in peace. And he may well be right – IF no one gets hurt. But if, heaven forbid, something bad happens…

  14. Mabe things will work out and the only person not leaving Bahrain is Berny….

  15. Maybe things will work out and the only person not leaving Bahrain is Berny….

    1. We can only hope. Maybe only then will something be finally done about it!

  16. I just don’t like how they’ve tried to turn this all to F1. The place would still be in a mess wether F1 was there on not.

    Just seems like its being made to sound like its all F1’s fault when it’s not!

    1. True, but they are turning out in force because F1 (and by extension its media) is there. It gives them a chance to be heard throughout the world.

      1. @journeyer Exactly, but it seems that the Protesters aren’t getting the message that despite F1 being their on behalf of the Government that it’s getting the protesters message out to the world (something as has been discussed many times has not really been happening prior to this).

        Now if only the Protestors would realize that their terrorist acts such as fire-bombing people/buildings & attacking the police are doing more harm to their cause then it is doing good. The media reports that should say “Thousands of protesters march & hold peaceful protest” are instead saying “The protesters are trying to burn people alive, the protestors are torching peoples property, the protestors are threatening to kill thousands of people.” I see those reports and say “Screw those protestors their Government should come down harder on them and show them what real oppression really is if they can’t behaving in a civilized way”.

        1. Screw those protestors their Government should come down harder on them and show them what real oppression really is if they can’t behaving in a civilized way

          Damn right!

          1. Complete **** – hope you’re one of those who wants to leave the site cos the prediction game is cancelled

    2. I think the issue that’s being taken is that this money goes right to the government which the people are protest. As others have said, by going forward with the race, F1 is enabling the regime and doing so with full awareness of the conflict at hand. And like Journeyer said, the fact that millions around the world are watching just ups the incentive to make a scene out of this whole mess. When you consider yourself oppressed, you aren’t likely to pass up a chance to make the world hear about your problems.

      1. *huff*
        Where’s Jeremy Kyle when you need him.. -_-

      2. Absolutely.

  17. I am not impressed with the response of the Crown Prince. I only see the words of a typical delusional dictator filled with denial. What makes it funny is that this entire situation only exposes his regime in a negative way. He is not doing himself any favors by continuing to insists that “At no time was anyone from Formula One in danger.” How could he possibly know that? Protests are unpredictable and his country and city is currently unstable. Call it what you will, extremism, riots… there is a reason for protests as they don’t normally happen for no reason. Fix the problems in your country first and then indulge yourself with celebrations and entertainment later.

  18. Steve Windisch
    20th April 2012, 18:02

    The teams can boycot the race, it happened in 2005 at the United States round when the teams cited safety concerns. I think this is an excellent case for teams feeling unsafe.

  19. That smarmy nasty little man…the crown prince I mean for a change. How dare he compare the riots in England last year to the events of the last 14 months in Bahrain.

    Oh and by the way his dad has been invited to attend the Queen’s jubilee

    1. I can see his point. I remember the eventual UK enquirey that found 35 dead from the police “heavy handedness” and 60 tortured within an inch of their lives and scores of youtube video showing people being beaten with rifle stocks and bodies covered in Shotgun pellets.

  20. You cant help but admire Bernie for He`s buisness acuimen.

    Theres no such thing as bad Advertising

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