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”

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  1. Ι’m glad for this. :D

  2. Just saw the news, which featured part of an interview with the race organisor. His view on things was rather interesting: “Who cares if there are a few hundred people demonstrating? Maybe 20 of them throw molotov cocktails. So really, what’s the big deal?”.

    The fact that Force India staff got a close encounter with 1 molotov cocktail, does make it a big deal I would say. You just know that the international press is going to give that incident a lot of attention. So even only from a pure PR perspective, that statement is extremely poor, to say the least.

    From a human perspective… it just says it all. The guy doesn’t give a damn about anything else than his race and the income linked to it.

  3. Good to see politicians only caring right when it matters, right on cue.

    I’m looking forward to Monday arguably more than Sunday.

  4. Through the last couple of weeks I have managed to keep absolutely no opinion on whether the race should go on or not. I have followed everyone’s arguments (on this site) on the reasons why this race should or should not go ahead. Till yesterday I knew I would be watching the race without thinking about the political or economic ramifications of the event going or not going through. Yet, seeing the empty race stands and the actual cars doing the laps, I almost got the feeling that no one had their heart in it. It was like they were there, lap on lap yet there was no atmosphere, no feeling that it was even a Formula 1 practice session.

    At this point I still would not want argue one way or the other on the race, but as a viewer, the proceedings were listless and I think that if the drivers and the teams don’t have the heart in the racing then there was really no point in this weekend at all. No doubt by Monday everyone will have forgotten Bahrain but if F1 should take something from this it is that they should not allow themselves to get dragged into politics. That by cancelling the event on safety grounds would have been reason enough to avoid this farce.

    As a comparison, when the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked in Pakistan, the entire country was deemed unfit to tour for cricket matches. Even now Pakistan struggles to get teams to tour as player associations cite safety and security issues. I know FOTA is virtually dead, but in such cases could they not band together and take a stand?

    At the end, forget Bernie, forget the government and forget the protesters, it is the sport and the teams that will be under fire and their decisions scrutinized. The sad part is that, God forbid, in the case of any dangerous event, it is they who stand to lose the most.

    1. Pakistan have been playing their home games in the UAE (ironically) for some time as the situation was declared unsafe at home for teams to tour.

  5. I have absaloutely no idea, but this situation sort of reminds me of Indy 2005, where 6 cars started the race.
    I can see very few similarities between the 2 races, but I still think of Indy 05.
    Anyone else feeling the same way?
    (I understand if no one else does, as I don’t know why this situation reminds me of it)

    1. I totally understand what you mean, Just another damaging weekend for F1 putting the sport in a bad light once again and for what?

    2. If my memory serves me right, everybody started and then those using the unsafe tyre retired on safety grounds. Just another illustration of Bernie and the FIAs pig headedness.

      1. Indeed. And lets see who makes it to lap 5 this year

  6. I’m a big f1 fan, but this is the first time in many years that I have chosen not to watch a race. The FIA and ecclestone should get out now. No sporting event is worth the loss of a life.

    Great to see so many F1 fans discussing this and not hiding behind the ‘sport has nothing to do politics’ line that ecclestone, cameron and many others take.

    Finally a big thanks to Keith for encouraging the debate about this on a sporting website. I urge everyone to boycott this event and join me in not watching it.

  7. I have been to testing in Jerez and Barcelona for a number of years now. We regularly visit the paddock, this year we were entertained by a team boss in their office in one of the trucks. We spent all day with the team talking to mechanics, truck drivers and doormen.

    To a man/woman, none of them wanted to go to Bahrain even back in February. But as was explained to me, the penalties for refusing to race are so high that it would finish the smaller teams, drastically affect mid teams capabilities for the rest of the year, and still have some impact on the budget of the top teams.

    I did hear one team suggest they may forget to fuel one of their cars for the race in protest they can’t be fined for that – Let’s see.

    The disgust for Ecclestone and his manipulative ways was uninhibited, particularly how he divides to conquer over the cocorde agreement negotiations

  8. Oh and by the way, if you want to know one of the significant reasons the race won’t be cancelled. Check out the rules on consecutive years cancellation. Bahrain could be without a GP for 5 years. It’s going to take something terrible for the race to be cancelled. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen.

  9. Ecclestone is filthy rich & morally bankrupt. That’s what it takes to get into bed with Rupert Murdoch. I shudder to think what it takes to get next to a “royal” family which tortures & kills its own people if they dare to protest. F1 should hang its head in shame.

    1. Guardian is now reporting 50,000 protesters assembling tonight. Very sad and very very very stupid to be in this position

  10. I maintain that F1 should have stayed well away from Barhrain, given how the protests and the regime’s response are no different to last year. Now that we’re in Bahrain, the teams must be watching the minutes until they can get out of there. The clash which Force India got caught up in shows that Bahrain is not safe at all, despite assurances to the contrary. For F1 to stay there is irresponsible, as the risks are clear. If team members, drivers or officials (stewards, etc) were to be injured or worse, it would forever damage the reputation of F1, even disregarding the political situation in Bahrain right now.

    Yet how can we disregard it? It’s all very well to say that sport should not be concerned with such things, but it is clear that the Bahraini government is using the race to paint a whitewash over the situation. To allow this to happen would cause irrevocable damage to the sport’s reputation. I just have this to say to Bernie: call the race off. If the situation is better next year, by all means go back, but let’s not do any more damage to F1. Let the show go on in Barcelona.

  11. Here is something else I don’t get & I brought up yesterday. If these team members/FIA personnel going into the weekend felt it would be so unsafe outside of the track then why didn’t they pack a tent and/or make arrangements to camp out at the track?

    Actually now that I think of it from an “ease of use” standpoint why hasn’t the FIA mandated years ago that all these tracks that host fly-away races have to have some sort of Hotel within the track property for the teams/drivers/FIA personal to stay? Not only would it be easier for team members to physically not have to fight traffic & they’d probaly be able to sleep in a bit more, but also I would think for safety concerns in all these countries it would be better off for everybody involved with the sport.

    Also how come it’s only “Boycott F1” & not “Boycott GP2”, “Boycott Porsche Supercup”, “Boycott LMFAO”, etc..

    1. dysthanasiac (@)
      20th April 2012, 23:28

      The reason why no one is calling for a boycott of GP2 or the Porsche Supercup or anything else is because none of this matters. At all. The Grand Prix of Bahrain is simply a high-profile avenue through which people can express self-righteous disdain for a situation they likely don’t understand and clearly have no intention of stopping.

      For all the polemics thrown one way or the other, what’s different about this grand prix as opposed to others? Nothing. It’s all business as usual. Despite what anyone says, no one really cares.

      And that includes us. Actions speak lou-…oh, never mind.

    2. Part of the sell of F1 to new venues is the guaranteed spend of the circus (c.1500) people before fans.

      Its estimated to be the first £2.5m payback for the fee

  12. I may be being over dramatic but I think the biggest issue for F1 is vast amount of negative publicity the weekend is generating with regard to potential future sponsors. How many big international businesses are now going to think twice about whether they want to be associated with a sport that is openly aligned (whether I or F1 like it or not) with rulers of a country in political turmoil with a bad human rights record?

    For example Mercedes last week won their first race since their comeback, so generating good publicity and a marketing tool for their brand. Now all of that is being undone by this weekend racing in a race closely associated to the leaders of an unpopular autocratic regime and that fact being splashed all over the news.

    As racing in countries with political, human rights or safety issues such as Abu Dhabi, China and Brazil show, F1 can and does go racing in those places, so I think racing in Bahrain should be possible.

    However the major problem I have with Bahrain is the closeness of the political leaders of the unpopular regime to the race itself, and apparently Bernie and the FIA too. If the Crown Prince and co had stayed away and not tried to use the race politically and not stuck their faces in front of the camera at every opportunity I think the weekend may have been relatively uneventful, and even acceptable to many. Unfortunately they haven’t.

    1. dysthanasiac (@)
      21st April 2012, 0:01

      If sponsors really cared, they’d have their logos removed from the cars they sponsor. (ING wasted no time doing just after the revelation of “Crash-gate.”) But, they don’t, because they don’t care, because no one cares. It’s all talk.

  13. I think you are definitely right about the publicity, unless it is McLaren I don’t see the winners taking out full page spreads to advertise their success in this GP, tough for Mercedes if they manage to win again.

  14. absolutely ridiculous. PM you were wrong in so many ways.

    Stupidity is rife.

  15. Just like China PM?

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