Todt dodges questions and journalists as protester dies in Bahrain

F1 Fanatic round-up

Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, Bahrain, 2012In the round-up: FIA president Jean Todt dodges questions and journalists in Bahrain. Meanwhile the opposition blame security forces for protester’s death.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Todt speaks out at last on Bahrain (James Allen)

“One obvious own goal has been the decision to allow the F1 brand to be used on the ‘UniF1ed’ poster campaign for the race, a clear political use of the brand, which the FIA rules would appear not to allow and which contradicts all statements about sport and politics not mixing. As does the messaging of Bahrain being ‘back on track’. Asked about this by the BBC?s Jake Humphrey, Todt swerved the question.”

Kevin Eason via Twitter

“Pleased to see Jean Todt, FIA president, made it into the F1 paddock in Bahrain today. Gave interviews to selected media and press. Not The Times, though. Perhaps he is still upset at our coverage of Bahrain Grand Prix…”

Tom Cary’s diary of a fraught week in the Gulf kingdom (The Telegraph)

“FIA president Jean Todt, lambasted for keeping such a low profile during the crisis, finally shows up in the paddock. But it seems that I, along with my Fleet St colleagues, have now been blacklisted as he speaks only to other agencies and TV outlets.”

Bahrain: Activist found dead ahead of Grand Prix (BBC)

“A man has been killed in Bahrain during overnight clashes with the security forces, activists say, a day before Sunday’s F1 Grand Prix.”

Bahrain protester’s family: ‘we were not allowed to see the body’ – video (The Guardian)

“The brother-in-law of Salah Abbas Habib, the anti-government protester found dead on the eve of the Bahrain Grand Prix, says the family were told a body had been found inside a compound but they were not allowed to identify it.”

Chief of Public Security Announces An Investigation Into the Death of Salah Abbas Habib Musa (Bahrain Ministry of Interior)

“The chief said more details would be released as they become known. He reminded everyone, both journalists and the public, to wait for the facts to be established and not to believe unconfirmed reports on social media channels.”

Protester found dead on eve of Bahrain Grand Prix (FT, registration required)

“Other protesters who survived the same incident said they were beaten by police, according to activists.”

Bahrain Grand Prix: Protesters block roads as teargas fired (The Telegraph)

“Anti-government protesters in Bahrain flooded a main highway in a march stretching for miles and security forces fired tear gas in breakaway clashes as the country’s leaders struggle to contain opposition anger ahead of the Grand Prix.”

Force India boss defends decision to pull-out of second practice (BBC)

Deputy team principal Bob Fernley: “If we hadn’t taken the steps we did, we were close to unravelling. It was just very, very important.”

Formula One lives in a Bahrain bubble (Reuters)

“FIA President Jean Todt broke a 10-day media silence on Saturday to say that he was sorry ‘about what has been reported’ rather than expressing any doubts about giving the green light to the race at a time when the Gulf kingdom was still undergoing so much turmoil.”

Foreign Secretary expresses concern at violence in Bahrain (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

“I spoke to the Foreign Minister of Bahrain today to express our concern about the violence in Bahrain, to call for restraint in dealing with protests including during the Formula One race and to urge further progress in implementing political reforms.”

Brawn urges F1 to reflect on Bahrain call (Autosport)

“I think we are here now, and after this event we need to sit down and discuss it. We are committed to this race, we are having a race, and after the race with proper judgement of what happened and what we saw, we need to come to a conclusion.”

Kate Walker via Twitter

“Been reprimanded for the positive [Bahrain question] I asked in press [conference yesterday]. Apparently they felt it was an attack.”

Bernie: India not Forced off TV (The Sun)

“F1 supremo Ecclestone… rebuffed the accusations they were being punished for leaving the circuit early… “They have a whisky company prominently on the car. They should have taken it off. The TV could not show that.” […] However, SunSport understands that Force India were given the green light to run with the logos of whisky brand Whyte & Mackay.”

Lewis Hamilton vs Ed Miliband (The Spectator)

“What baffles me is that the racing drivers should be seen as so controversial, whereas (so far as I can tell) neither [Yvette] Cooper nor [Ed] Miliband has had anything to say about the British government approving the sale of arms to Bahrain long after its uprising started in February 2011.”

Bahrain analysis: how Formula One plan may have backfired for Gulf kingdom’s ruling family (The Telegraph)

“Officials came up with the slogan “UniF1ed” had hoped that Bahrain’s showcase event would deflate the Shia street protests that had campaigned so vocally for its cancellation. Yet the opposite seems to have happened, with the questionable nature of the regime’s triumph exposed by the thousands of demonstrators who gathered on Friday and Saturday, the first two of three ‘days of rage’, to denounce the ruling family.”

Inside Story – Bahrain’s ‘days of rage’ (Al Jazeera via YouTube)

Breivik F1 is go! (Sniff Petrol – satire)

“The decision to allow Breivik to enter Formula 1 is ‘not about the money’, according to F1 boss Bernard Ecclestone. ‘Anders Breivik is entered into Formula 1. It?s all scheduled,’ Mr Ecclestone said. ‘And although I essentially own, run and completely control the sport, I can’t do anything about that. It’s up to the teams.'”

Vergne reprimanded, but escapes penalty (

“Vergne will now keep his starting position of 19th place on the grid, after failing to progress from Q1 during the qualifying session.”

Q&A with Sauber?s Sergio Perez (Sauber)

“After we did the data analysis we found out that we had a problem with the front wing which caused us to lose a lot of downforce [in China]. So it had nothing to do with strategy. Very likely, under normal circumstances, the two-stop strategy would have worked.”

F1 video game creator Codemasters in debt for equity deal (The Telegraph)

“The company recently renewed the Formula 1 licence through to 2015. Formula 1 2011 has sold around 2m units and Dirt 3, another leading racing title, has sold more than 1.5m units globally.”

Formula 1 betting: Bahrain Grand Prix

My thoughts on the race ahead.

Comment of the day

AJ sets out a case against those in charge of Formula 1:

People appear to be sick and tired of the manipulation of F1 by certain individuals.

We have an FIA who sanctioned the use of slogans “UniF1ed = one nation in celebration”, a slogan that was propose and run from February. This is clearly in breach of article 1 of the FIA statute.

Ecclestone is under criminal investigation around the acquisition of the rights for F1 and sale to CVC. $1m a year to buy them from his mate head of the FIA. He is a present trying to sell these rights for $10billion.

The bullying tactics over the Concorde Agreements are a matter of historical fact, and are happening again this year.

The decision by the FIA to go to Bahrain has been proven ridiculous, the world?s media has had a field day in criticising F1 this weekend.

Ross Brawn has gone on record today saying, “it is important for the sport to ask whether they did the right thing coming here racing”. If it was clear there was no problem with the decision, why suggest this? […]

It is our right to comment. It is our right to expect fairness and justice within our sport. It is our duty to speak out.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Fixy and Kaylee911!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Jean Behra won a non-championship race around the Pau street circuit at the wheel of a Maserati 250F today in 1957.

Image ?? Caterham/LAT

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109 comments on Todt dodges questions and journalists as protester dies in Bahrain

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  1. xivizmath (@xivizmath) said on 22nd April 2012, 0:09

    I oppose the Grand Prix of Bahrain since 2004.

    Not even a political reason.

    It’s just the track that is terrible.

  2. Neusalz (@dpod) said on 22nd April 2012, 0:12

    Bernie, lying only works to a certain point. Once you pass that point, you end up looking like a fool.

  3. BaKano (@bakano) said on 22nd April 2012, 0:13

    Like I mentioned in a comment on another article , had the F1 not gone into Bahrain this weekend, much less media would report the protester’s death. Actually before the all F1-debate Bahrain was off the world news for a long time and as far as I know they continue to have the same kind of problems they had last year and continue to have to this day!

    • Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 22nd April 2012, 0:22

      That´s a good point. I was dead set against this GP, but maybe it will work for the greater good by focusing the worlds attention on the neglected Arab revolution.

      Of course, this applies only to the country itself. For F1 itself there is no silver lining- unless, of course, all publicity is good publicity…

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 22nd April 2012, 0:23

      I’ve come to a similar conclusion. Formula 1 shouldn’t have gone, for oh so many reasons, but in a way it appears to perhaps be good for the country. It is getting the country and the cause true media attention that had been lacking. If that continues to put more pressure on the country then perhaps it is a good thing, although whether the current escalated tension and violence (if it is escalated compared to normal of course, which isn’t necessarily the case as the security forces are supposedly being much less abusive than normal in the eye of the press) is worth it in the long run I have no idea.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 22nd April 2012, 1:59

        I’d also argue that it is perhaps safer for the physical well-being of the protesters that the race goes ahead. If Formula 1 withdrew from Bahrain for political and/or moral reasons, or if the protesters had forced the cancellation of the race by, say, setting fire to pit buildings, then I very much doubt that it would have ended well for the demonstrators. The government would not say “Oh, well, you were right, so here’s those speedy democratic reforms that you were asking for”. No, if they felt that the protesters had cost them the race, then would likely crack down harder and more ruthlessly than they ever have before.

        The situation in Bahrain was never going to be resolved with the cancellation of the Grand Prix, despite what some people around here might think. Because the Grand Prix is not the issue here; the demonstrators aren’t protesting against the phsyical race, but against what the race represents. And so far, they’ve been pretty successful. The government wants to push the “UNIF1ED – One Nation In Celebration” line, but all they’ve managed to do is say one thing and do another. It’s failed.

        At least this way, everyone gets what they want. The government gets a Grand Prix. The protesters get massive media exposure (even with the embargo on foreign journalists in place), and the government doesn’t decide to pulverise them out of retailiation. And Formula gets another round of the championship, with full points on offer to all.

        • Funkyf1 (@funkyf1) said on 22nd April 2012, 2:50

          I don’t believe SFI got what thy wanted! As much as I hate to fuel this argument, you are forgetting the event is yet to be over and the whole reason I and many others are against this event is that peoples lives are being put in unnecessary danger. I agree with Bakano and all above but only to a degree, this situation is not ours to defend or endorse and will be forgotten about by most once this media debacle is over. The holding of this event has still put someone’s life at risk (The entire F1 Paddock) to promote a problem that is not within our capability to fix. People will still stuffer in Bahrain, the GP will not change that, but the people involved in the incident who shouldn’t have been exposed to that risk (SFI crew), their lives will never be the same…….

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 22nd April 2012, 5:04

            you are forgetting the event is yet to be over

            No, I haven’t forgotten that at all. But based on what we’ve seen so far, the protesters probably aren’t going to target the race or anyone involved in it. They had a prime opportunity to do so with qualifying yesterday, and nothing came of it (one could argue that they would save it for the race itself, but security will be at its highest for the race, so it would probably be easier to target qualifying). Nabeel Rajab, one of the most outspoken activists, has said that none of the protests are aimed at Formula 1 and that they have no intention of hurting anybody involved in the sport.

            I still think that everyone has largely gotten what they wanted. The government gets their race. The protesters have received more media attention in the past week than they have for the past year. The sport gets anotehr round of the championship. That’s not going to suddenly change in the next eight hours.

  4. Dusty in California (@dusty-in-california) said on 22nd April 2012, 0:16

    From the U.S., where Formula 1 never gets a mention in mainstream media, there’s this headline prominently featured in the NY Times: Bahrain’s Formula One Gala Not Going as Planned.

    I always thought it was a bad idea to go, but I never thought it would lead to such terrible PR for F1. And now someone has been killed.

    • F1_Americana (@f1americana) said on 22nd April 2012, 3:52

      Also from the US (and first post for me), and I’ve seen stories on US television (CNN and CBS) as well. To put it into perspective, even the USGP @ Indy from 2000-2007 never got this much coverage here; even the ’05 Michelin tire debacle. Like Dusty says, it’s really bad PR for F1, and this in a country that may well be hosting 2 F1 races next year.

      I just hope nothing terrible happens tomorrow.

    • DaveW (@dmw) said on 22nd April 2012, 4:09

      This has already been a disaster for F1 image in the Us. When I heard on NPR about the tie in between F1 and protests, on friday, I knew this was not good. We haven’t even had a race yet.

  5. Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 22nd April 2012, 0:19

    Brilliant CotD.

    The whole weekend has been a disaster. Not just the fact that the race is going ahead- every quote from the Todt or Ecclestone, the Force India snub, the way F1 has made the headlines aworldwide for all the wrong reasons, the continued determination of the regime to tell the world how F1 is uniting their country when all evidence suggests the opposite. It´s just embarrassing.

    Here´s hoping things will change soon, and I won´t have to feel ashamed to tell people I´m an F1 fan anymore.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 22nd April 2012, 2:04

      @ned-flanders – I think the real problem for Formula 1’s image has been the wall of silence that has met journalists when they ask about Bahrain. As one of them reported, Ross Brawn said he was happy to go to Bahrain, but refused to answer any more questions when pushed. If the Powers That Be had been a little bit more transparent, then I think the image would remain largely intact. All the refusals to comment have done is create some far-flung conspiracy theory where the FIA and FMO are forcing the teams to race because the Bahraini government is forcing them to force the teams into it or some such, most of which is completely intangible – I think most people are simply assuming the FIA and FOM are corrupt because they made decisions people don’t agree with – but is nevertheless devastating to the sport’s public relations.

      • frood said on 22nd April 2012, 10:38

        this is, i think, the most disappointing thing about the whole affair (well, maybe not, someone has died after all) – the fact that the sport’s leading figures, drivers included, have been unable or unwilling to express an opinion. hulkenberg was a notable exception but he hardly denounced the event.

        surely they have opinions?

        would the ‘conspiracy’ punish those for speaking against the race? i think it would lend credence to the event and improve its perception. i’ll be sorely annoyed if, come monday, drivers and teams start saying, openly, “actually, i was dead against the race…” – that will be very turdy indeed.

    • Estesark (@estesark) said on 22nd April 2012, 3:50

      @ned-flanders, I agree with you about feeling ashamed to be an F1 fan right now. The sport has disgraced itself. I’m sick to death of reading all the Bahrain articles in these round-ups – and that’s not a criticism of Keith or anyone else working at this website, it’s just that I wish those articles didn’t exist because I wish F1 was not in Bahrain right now. Whether it’s for safety reasons, political reasons, moral reasons or whatever other reasons, they simply should not be there. It actually makes me angry that they are.

  6. dysthanasiac (@) said on 22nd April 2012, 0:19

    Great comments, AJ.

    If only F1 “journalists” would ask the appropriate questions or dig for facts on their own rather than serving as de facto extensions of the F1 circus’ collected PR departments, maybe, just maybe, someone might be held accountable for all that is wrong in F1’s world.

    But, it will never, ever, ever happen, because F1 scribes traded integrity for access a long, long time ago.

  7. cduk_mugello (@cduk_mugello) said on 22nd April 2012, 0:20

    The Breivik link is very insensitive.. I don’t think it’s right to be joking about a guy that killed nearly 80 people – many of them teenagers.

    I understand it’s satire, but it’s in extremely poor taste.

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 22nd April 2012, 0:24

      I find it incredibly fitting, but then I’m not easily shocked.

    • Mark Hitchcock said on 22nd April 2012, 0:47

      That’s kind of the point though isn’t it.
      It’s insensitive to joke about a mass murderer, but it’s also insensitive to stage a multi-million dollar circus for the entertainment of comfortable and privileged people a few miles from where others are dying for basic rights.

    • The Breivik link is quite fitting I though actually.

      It makes it clear how inappropriate it was/is to be holding an event as big as an F1 race,in a country where such atrocities are being perpetrated. The way Bernie E. is being portrayed as someone who is powerless to stop the event, and how some leading F1 folks, drivers and managers alike, are seemingly happy to “tow the party line”, give generic answers to the press and ignore what’s happening around them, is actually quite accurate from what I’ve seen during the past while. Not good at all.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 22nd April 2012, 2:42

      I was shocked by the article, but only because it took them so long to come up with some original content. Sniff Petrol have bee recycling the same old jokes for years.

      I understand it’s satire, but it’s in extremely poor taste.

      Yeah, you’ve never heard of Sniff Petrol before, have you?

    • damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 22nd April 2012, 3:59

      I don’t think it’s right to be joking about a guy that killed nearly 80 people – many of them teenagers.

      Is it right for people to ignore the crown prince of Bahrain who has done effectively the very same thing? I think that’s the joke. Not that funny, but it’s no worse than supporting someone that kills anyone that doesn’t agree with his rule.

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 22nd April 2012, 5:21

        agreed, it’s not that it’s necessarily funny, it’s intended to make a statement through irony.

      • cduk_mugello (@cduk_mugello) said on 22nd April 2012, 10:59

        Is it right for people to ignore the crown prince of Bahrain who has done effectively the very same thing

        Two wrongs never make a right. Just because one organisation (the FIA) has lost it’s collective morality, it doesn’t mean we should all suspend what we previously believed to be ethically correct.

        I just don’t think it’s right to be joking about these things full stop. Only my opinion though.

    • AlexNK said on 22nd April 2012, 7:33

      Sniff Petrol has finally made a good joke! The Breivik line is absolutely spot on, because it’s not about Breivik at all. Could have been anything, from ‘Al-Qaida a title sponsor of the British Grand Prix’ to ‘Inaugural Cuban Grand Prix will be held at Guantanamo Bay’. The whole point is it would have changed nothing for the rest of the article. People who control everything claim they have no means to change anything, teams & drivers playing ostriches, fans are being screwed – all this has become the default M.O. for the F1, be it the axing of Spa, killing free-to-air broadcasts or lending its name to support the dictatorship. All business as usual.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 22nd April 2012, 8:58

      @cduk_mugello I think it’s meant to make you feel a little uncomfortable and it makes a valid point. However, I don’t know whether or not you would find me writing it!

  8. Bleeps_and_Tweaks (@bleeps_and_tweaks) said on 22nd April 2012, 0:37

    Keith in my opinion the inclusion of the ‘Breivik Satire’ link is questionable at best. Sorry, but I don’t really think it should have been included.

    • Dave (@davea86) said on 22nd April 2012, 3:24

      Yeah I thought that was a bit weird to add. I get the irony of it and how people think it’s a fitting comparison but it doesn’t really fit in with the vibe of this website lately. Especially when the predictions championship round was cancelled because people thought it wasn’t appropriate.

    • Maciek (@maciek) said on 22nd April 2012, 8:53

      The article itself is borderline, no question. If I was in any way close to any of the victims I wouldn’t find very funny. But I don’t see how including it in the roundup is questionable.

  9. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 22nd April 2012, 0:50

    2 million copies.of F1 2011 is mighty impressive. Well done Codies!

  10. RickeeBoy said on 22nd April 2012, 0:51

    I’d prefer to see better reporting on F1 than the journalists on F1 Fanatic suddenly trying to become Political reporters. If we want political reporting then look at a Daily Newspaper. You are fuelling this by Politicising this F1 Blog site.

    • Apex (@apex) said on 22nd April 2012, 1:34

      This is certainly a unique situation isn’t i? Typically I agree that sports reporters should stick to sports and political pundits stick to politics. However, over the past year, the regime in Bahrain has banned journalists from entering the country. Bahrain has gotten virtually no coverage in the media prior to Formula One deciding to go ahead with the race. It would be naive to think that F1 journalists and bloggers would not be reporting on the political situation under such circumstances. The race itself is a political statement, whether it should be or not. There is nothing normal about this weekend’s race.

    • Maciek (@maciek) said on 22nd April 2012, 9:03

      You are fuelling this by Politicising this F1 Blog site.

      Yes Keith you really should stop fuelling this. It’s not the FIA’s fault for sanctioning the race, it’s not Bernie’s fault for pushing it through, it’s not the teams’ fault for being corporate automatons, it’s not the Bahraini rulers’ fault for clinging to autocratic power, it’s not even the protesters’ fault for wanting a better life and more honest government. It’s not reality’s fault for being what it is. No see, it’s the media’s fault for saying anything about anything except what people want to hear about so they don’t have to think further than their front door. For shame, Keith.

      • Praful said on 22nd April 2012, 9:34

        t’s not reality’s fault for being what it is. No see, it’s the media’s fault for saying anything about anything except what people want to hear about so they don’t have to think further than their front door

        Just one change – except what RICH & Powerful people want to hear

  11. I’ve been watching F1 for 35 years, been to over 100 GP’s, testing every year and know people in the teams as friends. This is a horrible and unique moment in time for F1 – partially because certain key figures do not understand the power of the media and social media 2012.

    Ask the Egyptian premier of a number of decades

    There are people out there starting a campaign to tell the f1 sponsors we are not happy with the running of F1. If they get the message, they will put pressure on the teams about brand damaging publicity, who in turn will place the blame for this weekends fiasco approriately.

    I and others have already started sending simple twitter messages out saying

    “There is a social media campaign under way to boycott the products of F1 sponsors”.

    So far we have:-

    (hugo boss) @houseoffraser
    sales@whyteandmackay (email)

    more to follow.

    i know some people are not interested in this, and that’s fine. But for those who are – house of fraser get 5 tweets a day. 20 tweets from f1 fans will hit their radar. This is true of other sponsors.

    If you interested I will post more twitter accounts as soon as i get them.

    If you don’t believe this works ask the Liverpool FC fans (spirit of shankley website) who contacted merryl lynch and other equity institutions to prevent the texan cowboys from raising finance to hold on to the club

  12. now we also have


    Just to add to the LFC story. There is a book called 44 months with a pair of cowboys that is a great read for any sports fan (I think brian read wrote it). Merryl Lynch (wall street) received initially a few hundred emails from LFC fans and took notice as these numbers are generally unprecidented.

    • Alex (@alexde) said on 22nd April 2012, 1:34

      Thank you.
      B.E. and J.T. underestimated the power of the new media. In the past two days whatever they have pulled out from their old PR collection to machinate the ‘dumb masses’ was discovered within a few seconds and backfired.

  13. May God rest his soul in peace and take him to Him as a martyr.

    I have been watching formula1 snce 1994 full time. Maybe I missed 2-3 races while moving to different countries.

    Now I just had it and will NEVER WATCH a formula1 race for the rest of my live, even if schumacher is winning which is what glued me to the sport inthe first place.

    Shame on you formula1, FORMULA-KILL-4-MONEY.

    May God judge BE and Co justly. That is whithout mercy.

    Bye bye

    Ali Adams
    God > infinity

  14. Kacey said on 22nd April 2012, 1:29

    Vettel is an idiot for these comments: “I don’t think it’s that bad. There is a lot of hype. It is not a big problem and I am happy once we start because then we can start worrying about the stuff that really matters like tyre temperatures, cars”.

    Perhaps it was taken out of context, but it doesn’t sit well when there are true human rights issues at large. Sebastian is a wonderful driver, but he needs to keep his mouth shut.

  15. correction on Hugo Boss

    @hugoboss not @houseoffraser
    gillette is @gilletteuk

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