Ecclestone and crown prince insist race will go on

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 Formula1.com 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. nemo87 (@nemo87) said on 20th April 2012, 17:34

    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!

    • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 20th April 2012, 17:36

      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.

      • Fisha695 (@fisha695) said on 20th April 2012, 22:22

        @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”.

        • nemo87 (@nemo87) said on 20th April 2012, 23:45

          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!

          • thejudge13 said on 21st April 2012, 0:16

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

    • Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 20th April 2012, 17:45

      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.

  2. Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 20th April 2012, 17:50

    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.

  3. Steve Windisch said on 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.

  4. thejudge13 said on 20th April 2012, 18:05

    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

    • 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.

  5. Gogog said on 20th April 2012, 18:29

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

    Theres no such thing as bad Advertising

  6. Ι’m glad for this. :D

  7. Baremans said on 20th April 2012, 19:00

    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.

  8. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 20th April 2012, 19:16

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

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

  9. MahavirShah (@mahavirshah) said on 20th April 2012, 19:20

    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.

    • thejudge13 said on 20th April 2012, 20:41

      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.

  10. xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 20th April 2012, 19:44

    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)

  11. 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.

  12. thejudge13 said on 20th April 2012, 20:49

    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

  13. 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.

  14. ianmac said on 20th April 2012, 21:28

    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.

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

  15. Lin1876 (@lin1876) said on 20th April 2012, 22:09

    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.

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