Ecclestone: “I think we will probably have to cancel”

F1 Fanatic round-upPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

A busy day ahead at F1 Fanatic.

Over in Barcelona the third F1 test of 2011 is about to start – and I’m not there. I’m going to be at McLaren today for a pre-season media event today.

Leandra Graves, a new writer to F1 Fanatic, is in Barcelona to follow the test as it happens and talk to the drivers and teams. You can follow her on Twitter and she’ll also be posting updates on the F1 Fanatic Twitter feed.

I also spoke to new BBC F1 commentators Martin Brundle and David Coulthard last week so keep an eye out for an exclusive interview with them on the site later today.

Here’s today’s round-up:


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Bahrain grand prix faces cancellation if political violence continues (The Guardian)

“We’ll make a decision by Tuesday or Wednesday [next week]. If things stay as they are today, the answer is no. If it’s not quietened down by Wednesday, I think we will have to cancel probably. We’ll have to keep our eye on things and make a decision quickly.”

Formula One racing loses trademark fight in EU court (Reuters)

“There is no likelihood of confusion between the mark applied for and Formula One Licensing’s marks, given the low degree of similarity between the marks and the descriptive character that the public attributes to the abbreviation ‘F1’.”

Shanghai extends grand prix deal (Autosport)

“Shanghai has agreed a deal to host Formula 1 races until 2017, ending months of speculation about the future of the Chinese Grand Prix.”

F1 driven into tight spot over allegations (The Financial Times)

“At the time, Mr Ecclestone?s grip on Formula One seemed under threat: car manufacturers had threatened to set up a rival series unless their teams received more money. Since then, the teams have signed a contract committing them to race until 2013 and FOA?s revenues increased to $1.1bn in 2009. Mr Ecclestone said last year that he believes the business is now worth ??$6bn or $7bn??.”

Never mind the dog… beware of the wife! The jaw-dropping inside story of Bernie Ecclestone marriage (The Daily Mail)

An excerpt from the forthcoming new biography of Bernie Ecclestone by Tom Bower: “I first met Bernie Ecclestone in 2009, when I started writing my book about his life. I’d replied to Ecclestone’s offer of co-operation with the assurance that I would publish any evidence I found of wrongdoing. Ecclestone smiled and said: ‘Tom, I’m no angel.’ I enjoyed unprecedented access to Ecclestone, his friends and most of Formula 1’s leading personalities.”

Follow F1 news as it breaks using the F1 Fanatic live Twitter app.

Comment of the day

A lot of spirited debate on the Bahrain situation yesterday. Alianora la Canta argued for why the race should be cancelled:

The cancellation of the Grand Prix would increase the amount of pressure that could be brought to bear upon the wrongdoers in this scenario, encourage flexibility in the minds of the powers-that-be and demonstrate powerfully that violent behaviour will have negative consequences for everyone. So cancellation would cause the Bahraini citizenry a lot of good in an indirect fashion.

Anything can move with a big enough lever and what those governments that rely on F1 to make them look good perhaps don?t realise is that F1 can be a large lever under certain circumstances.
Alianora la Canta

From the forum

Is that really Zsolt Baumgartner on Twitter? I’m not convinced.

“Senna” movie in America

If you’re in Los Angeles or New York don’t miss a limited chance to see the “Senna” movie.

It’s playing for a one-week run at two cinemas starting on Saturday. Thanks to John Laurence for sending the details of the cinemas:

Village East Cinema, 181-189 2nd Ave, New York City, NY 10012

Laemmle Theatres, Town Center 5, 17200 Ventura Blvd., Encino CA

If you do go to see “Senna”, do drop me an email telling me what you thought of it. And remember to say hi to any fellow F1 Fanatics!

Happy birthday!

Two F1 Fanatic reader birthdays today – all the best to _Ben_ and Mike!

On this day in F1

Ten years ago today Nick Heidfeld set a new track record at the Muigello circuit, testing for Sauber.

Then, as now, Sauber were going into a new season with one rookie driver – Kimi R??ikk??nen – and one driver with just a single full season under his belt. It turned out to be their most successful year.

Will history repeat itself with Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez this year?

Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images

76 comments on “Ecclestone: “I think we will probably have to cancel””

  1. First, and awww, I wonder what this means for the calander and there poor people who already bought tickets and made plans…

    1. The organisers will have to reimburse them. Since the organisers are the government/royal family, it’s hard to feel sympathetic.

      1. If the royal family’s accounts are frozen upon their removal from power the way that has been proposed for ex-Egyptian ruler Mubarak, then it’s going to be rather difficult for the royal family to reimburse ticket holders because they won’t be able to withdraw money for them…

        1. It’s quite far :) But who knows you are right…

  2. Welcome Leandra.
    You picked a fantastic site to write for.
    I look forward to reading you stuff. :)

    1. I look forward to reading you stuff.

      Me too. Just followed you on Twitter.

    2. I’d like to welcome Leandra Williams to our little slice of heaven over here!

      Word of warning, don’t say any bad things about Massa, I here Steph bites quite hard!


      1. Aww, I reckon Steph’s a pussy cat! Although she is a redhead… they can be feisty!

  3. This is what happens when F1 puts all its eggs into government funded, government sponsored events, which are prestige events there for the government and the elite, in states which are ruled by an authoritarian regime.

    I have no sympathy with the fact this F1 race may be cancelled, in fact I welcome it.

    I have never liked F1’s cosy relationship with these governments. Interestingly, I find the F1 GP’s that have been built for prestige events to promote & display the wealth and success of a country, (rather than being there for the people, and the fans of the sport) that they end up being the most soulless passionless events around.

    Even if it goes ahead I will boycott this race myself.

    1. You might as well go ahead and say Monaco is one of those races, but it’s far from soul-less.

      Bahrain may not produce exciting races, but I LOVE to watch them anyway because its still F1. And the track looks amazing with all the sand and tan paint, it’s unique. Abu Dhabi is also unique in many ways, and it produced a decent race this year.

      And anyway, there are only 3 of these races, Bahrain, Monaco, and Abu Dhabi, and your talking as though this was some sort of plague. You want good racing at other venues, then I suggest you look at it this way: If F1 doesn’t have enough money (Which it gains at these “prestige” races) there will be no more racing. You can sit through 3 races can’t you? Or you have the other option, Don’t watch the race. But don’t come on here and Rant, it’s annoying.

      1. That was a bit uncalled for PB, I don’t see what made you bring Monaco up. Presumably Mach is referring to races like China and Singapore which are basically vanity projects from their respective governments.

        Also, the pit lane at Monaco has more character than the entire cumulative soul of Sakhir and Yas Marina combined. In my opinon, of course

        1. Your right, I think some of the hate is starting to rub off on me… Sorry bout that. But by Monaco I mean it’s also a prestige race, as theres almost no spot for fans like us, its mostly celebrities and royalty. There are about 3 grandstands, and the rest is visible by Yacht or hotel. I took this comment a little rough because Mach1 made an (In my opinion) un thought through comment, but maybe I just read it that way after Feynman and Co. wrote so many un-thought through comments. I’m sorry for that though.

          1. I agree with you on the point of wanting to watch the race. Bahrain isn’t even that bad usually. And I was looking forward to comparing it favourably to last year.

            Glad especially Alianora and Jihelle and also Karun made some pretty well informed arguments yesterday.
            I agree that the race should be cancelled now. It might be dangerous but most of all not the right moment to go there and present something positive as the first F1 race of a new season.
            Good luck all in Bahrain (and other countries with a similar situation).

        2. Indeed I was Ned. To PB, it is not a rant it is my own valid response to a current event.

          “If F1 doesn’t have enough money (Which it gains at these “prestige” races) there will be no more racing.”

          If F1 has to sell its soul to stay alive than that is indeed a sad state of affairs.

          Monaco as an example is a poor attempt at countering my argument.

          F1 at its best is there for the fans and for the people to watch. What ever your class, status whatever. That is what makes good sport.

          Bahrain and Abu Dhabi are very far removed from this. Bahrain is nearly a private venue judging by who/how many people attend. It is hardly there to expand the sport to a wider population. That is my issue.

          1. (PB, my above comment was posted before seeing your response, so I add this)

            I see your point about Monaco. But I would say Monaco is an anomaly. Monaco may be a prestige event, but for historical reasons.

            Even Bernie i think said last year that Monaco would not even be considered as an F1 venue today (if negotiated today), (he also said that F1 could do without it, but that was part of contract negotiation chatter I think).

            The fans of the sport love Monaco for the history, people camp on the hills, at any vantage point. No one who lives in Monaco is effectively excluded from seeing the sport.

            (Also PB, I hope this is not sounding like an argument between us, as I don’t intend it to be read like that, just a nice debate :) )

      2. Abu Dhabi is also unique in many ways, and it produced a decent race this year


    2. Problem is if FOM cancels the race, Bahrain’s leaders will blame the protesters for it. They’ll use the cancellation to shift the focus from the fact the protesters want a fair go, to the view that protesters are just trying to destroy the country and therefore the protesters do not deserve to have the rights they are protesting for.

      So basically F1 is stuck in a no win situation, if they don’t go people will complain, if they do go people will also complain.

      1. This reinforces my point about F1 getting into bed with authoritarian regimes. If the event is completely movement funded, and the only reason the sport is there is to demonstrate that countries wealth. The event itself is far more susceptible to being caught in a political crossfire, and a pawn for governments to use. As you say “in a no win scenario” and the very unfortunate result is that it may get indirect blood on its hands. i.e. used as a reason to blame (and fight) the protestors if the GP does not go on.

  4. keith you say she is leandra ‘williams’ but her twitter says Leandra Graves…?

    Why not move the GP to the Qatar circuit instead? it couldn’t be any closer to Bahrain!!!

    1. Maybe she recently got married?.

      We must be told, you know, cos we’re a nosey bunch.

    2. It is Graves – I don’t know where the hell I got ‘Williams’ from and I was typing her name all day yesterday on various emails and forms!

      1. Maybe thinking about contacting Williams about that GP event of theirs?

      2. Does that mean someone called Leandra Williams has been followed on Twitter by a load of F1 obsessives and she is wondering why people are asking her questions about it?!

        1. No I’d linked to the right account.

      3. It is Graves – I don’t know where the hell I got ‘Williams’ from and I was typing her name all day yesterday on various emails and forms!

        Keith’s got F1 on the brain, who’d have thought?

        Well I’d like to congratulate Leandra Graves on not getting married in the time from midnight till 8 today.

    3. Why not move the GP to the Qatar circuit instead?

      Because there’s not enough time to arrange it.

      And MotoGP riders struggle to pass there.

      1. At least it could be a night race. That way no-one will be able to see that there’s no-one there spectating.

        As far as new tracks go, Losail looks like the worst offender of all. I wouldn’t put a track together for my Scalextric cars, let along real-life professional motor racing series’.

  5. Adieu, longest F1 season ever.

    1. Salut, joint longest F1 season ever :P

      1. Touché!

  6. I was really impressed yesterday with most people’s views on the current situation in Bahrain. It’d be easy for people to turn a blind eye to all the crimes being committed against protestors, but almost everyone (with a couple of rather notable exceptions) seem genuinely compassionate towards the people suffering these injustices. I’m also a bit jealous how eloquently some people were able to put their arguments, they did make mine wordings look not so good.

    Anyway- and I hope other people will join me on this- if the Bahraini government does not back down from its current murderous, tyrannical behaviour and start listening to its people, then I shall be boycotting the Bahrain GP. It’s a pretty miniscule gesture, I know, but it’s the least I can do. Some things are just far more important than F1

    1. I can concur with that.
      I will refrain from looking at it live and in replay (nor live blog?), if the Bahrain government does not back down.

      1. I started a forum item for all who would like to join this boycot:

    2. IMHO you won’t be missing much ;)

  7. That COTD is one of the most intelligent comments from the Bahrain thread. I’m glad there is intelligent people making intelligent comments…

    … some of the stuff was ludicrous.

  8. Dangit. Once again, us Midwesterners are left out. No Senna for me :C

  9. I still maintain that the cencellation of the race will do nothing to resolve the situation in Bahrain, and that any claims that the race is being cancelled for political purposes are a dangerous can of worms that Formula 1 would best avoid.

    1. I still maintain that the cencellation of the race will do nothing to resolve the situation in Bahrain, and that any claims that the race is being cancelled for political purposes are a dangerous can of worms that Formula 1 would best avoid.

      But surely it would be a far worse scenario for the F1 circus to roll into town in the midst of this intense political activity and carry on as if everything’s perfectly normal and being deliberately ignorant of the struggles of the local populous? These recent uprisings in nations in the Middle-Eastern region have truly captured the attention of the entire world. The world’s media are continuing to focus their spotlight exclusively upon it, the world’s social networks are buzzing with a sense of universal solidarity with those whose voices are struggling to be heard through the muzzle of political oppression. Imagine the world’s reaction if we were see Formula 1 as a sport show a complete disregard for this highly sensitive situation and attempt to run an unnecessary event that would be entirely ignorant of the current national context in which it was staged. The sport would be ripped to pieces. It would be a catastrophic PR-decision and would do far more damage to F1’s reputation and credibility than choosing to abandon the event for political reasons ever would.

      You said yesterday that Formula 1 is not a political group or a nation and you’re right, it’s not. What it is however is a community, a massive community of drivers, teams, officials and fans that exist in all corners of the globe. How can we possibly respect ourselves as true fans of this sport if we deliberately choose to turn a blind eye to the very real and active suffering of a significant part of our wider community? How can we decide that Formula 1 is beyond politics and humanitarian issues and that because it has nothing to do with us, it’s acceptable to just ignore this issue? We even have members of our own F1Fanatic micro-community who are living through this right now. People like LAK. When I think about her and what she must be thinking about what’s happening in her country right now, I’m sure her home Grand Prix (as much as I’m sure she loves this sport) is the very last thing on her mind. As worldwide die-hard fans of this sport, we need to and should have the decency to understand that there are certain situations and issues that are of much greater concern and significance than a simple motor race. This is one of them.

      Ultimately, I hope the race is cancelled, because if they all roll into Sakhir in March and pretend that nothing’s wrong while the political climate is the same or worse than it is now, I will be truly ashamed of my sport.

      1. Great comment Geoffrey, endorsed in full. I think Ecclestone’s initial disparaging comments were already a great disservice to Formula 1 as a whole. I wish people would also stop claiming Formula 1 is not political when the negotiations over where races are hold is always with politicians (or unelected rulers) who have very particular interests in seeing Formula 1 hosted in their cities or countries, which Ecclestone clearly uses as his leverage to play one potential venue off with another and extract even more money.

      2. But surely it would be a far worse scenario for the F1 circus to roll into town in the midst of this intense political activity and carry on as if everything’s perfectly normal and being deliberately ignorant of the struggles of the local populous?

        That’s true, but I’ve noticed a lot of people are calling for the race to be abandoned simply because it is Bahrain and they believe the sport has no purpose being there. The protests are simply offering them the excuse they have been looking for.

      3. That is a comment worthy of your name MAG!

        Fully agree, in the mean time I have joined Ned Flanders call to boycot watching the race if it happens to go through despite the situation not changing.

    2. trulli dead09
      18th February 2011, 6:06

      But it would be cancelled on SAFETY reasons

    3. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
      18th February 2011, 8:05

      And you’re 100% right it won’t, and I also agree that canceling for political reasons would be a very dangerous scenario for F1. However canceling on safety grounds is a legitimate reason for canceling and would be accepted by all I am sure.

      Also in regards to your reply to Magnificent Geoffrey, I too am disappointed many people only want the race cancelled because it is Bahrain, I personally don’t like the track and want it gone, but I want only want the race cancelled this year due to safety reasons. That said if it happens to cause Bahrain to go from the calendar completely I won’t be too upset

      1. I think the only reason the race should be cancelled is for safety reasons, and not political reasons. If it’s safe enough to race then it should be on.

        From what I understand the protesters have good reason to be protesting, and if I was a Bahraini I would probably be protesting too, however if FOM cancel the race on political grounds, they have to pick a side. Either they are cancelling to support the royal family, or they are cancelling because they support the protesters, and I don’t think a sporting organisation should be taking any sides in situations like these.

        Not mention the precedent that it would set, rat bag organisations who like to cause trouble just for the sake of it would realise that if they caused enough trouble in their country they could get a Grand Prix, or other major events cancelled, and probably would do so for no other reason just to prove they can.

    4. That may be true, but the reasons I’m for it being cancelled are:

      1) The circuit is not good enough to host the season opener.
      2) The grandstands will be almost empty given the situation.

      F1 isn’t going to fix middle east politics no matter what good intentions the organisers or fans have.

    5. Agreed. It’s in the rules even, that F1 is non political. Turkey got a big fine for putting a poltical guy from Cyprus at the podium.

      I don’t know whether I’m gonna watch or boycot Bahrein. The killings of course make me feel bad for watching. But I’ve watched every Chinese grand prix and I won’t look away when the Chavez-Williams drives past. Oh and what’s Shell by the way doing in Kenia?

      To me it’s difficult to decide where hypocricy begins… But right now I feel like seperating sports and politics.

      1. Regarding Shell I meant Niger.
        And agreed with PM

    6. Ok, you have made your opinion clear to everyone by now. Are you waiting for everyone to agree that your opinion is the ‘correct’ one?

      Enough people have explained how they feel about the whole situation, and F1’s influence or involvement in global and national politics, and there is not going to be a consensus on this.

      It is beginning to sound like you are just trying to score points by ‘winning’ a debate where people have been expressing how they feel, which is impossible.

    7. PM, just let it go already. You must really like stirring this “dangerous can of worms” bit.

    8. I know how to change PM’s mind, just tell him Luca wants to race there :P

  10. btw i saw couple of articles y’day mentioning that Tony Fernandes asking for 60 million pounds or dollars to let go of the lotus brand. is it the old story or some new development to end the dispute before the court takes matters for a full hearing?

    1. Old story Dev, Bahar (group lotus CEO) claimed a couple of months ago thats how much Fernandes wanted for sponsorship.

    2. I was reading that, too. It seems to be a report that has emerged overnight. I don’t however, think it’s a sign that the end is near. Group Lotus have said they’ll be willing to pay for the name, and the name alone. They won’t accept any of the associated costs. Probably because they’d then be funding the team for an entire year.

  11. “Formula One racing loses trademark fight in EU court (Reuters)”

    Hmm, good thing they lost the rights to “F1”. That’d be an awful lot of keyboards to replace.

    1. Oh, Peri, surely not. Bernie would never….oh, wait…Bernie…ummm, nevermind.

    2. I suppose “F1 Fanatic” would be a potential issue there!

  12. I wonder what Bernie has been telling the Crown Prince during their meetings this week.

    If I was him, I’d be pointing out the obvious: This round of protests in Bahrain can only end in one of two ways. Either the royal family continues to violently break up protest groups, with more injuries and more deaths until there’s literally no one left, or his majesty must do the honorable thing and step aside.

    Could Bernie push them towards the sensible option? I suspect that billionaire dictators rarely, if ever, listen to anyone, but maybe, just maybe, they’ll listen to another billionaire dictator.

    1. I’m pretty sure that Bernie has absolutely no pulling power with the King of Bahrain, and that the King will be unwilling to decide the future of his nation based on a Grand Prix.

    2. “I suspect that billionaire dictators rarely, if ever, listen to anyone, but maybe, just maybe, they’ll listen to another billionaire dictator.”

      Very clever, well done!

  13. My, my. Poor old Bernie. All sorts of problems with Bahrain and politics and F1 image. CVC investigating it’s own purchase of F1. Lost the trademark case.

    If I didn’t know better, I’d think The Bernie is losing his touch. But, something tells me that in the upcoming months, all will unfold to show us that it was all part of a carefully crafted scenario. If ever there was anyone who could fall into an outhouse and climb out smelling like a rose, it’s Bernie.

  14. “Bahrain grand prix faces cancellation if political violence continues”

    Lets not kid ourselves, if it is cancelled it’s extremely unlikely to be because of the political situation itself (meaning ethically issues), but the problems with safety (medics) and logistics.

    I honestly believe 100% if it is considered safe and can operationally happen then it will. The only way the powers that be in F1 will cancel it purely on ethical grounds, is if there is enough pressure from other (external) governments.

    There was a lot of rubbish posted on the subject yesterday. I feel many lost sight of the current situation. People started defending misunderstood comments (the first ones seemed valid) and before you know it the discussion had digressed beyond the point of return. Of course this is just in my opinion.

    1. Doh “(meaning ethical issue)” not “ethically”.

      Why do I always spot these things after I have posted?

  15. Having myself been in trouble with FOM, glad to read the news of the EU Court ruling. I was going to say it was a metaphorical victory for the small man, but I suppose in a literal sense it is actually a defeat for a small man…

    1. Ha! One step for the small man, one giant leap over Bernie Ecclestone?

  16. awwww to cancel the Bahrain GP? What a loss for F1, Bahrain was surely becoming one of the all time classic races. I am sure we will all miss it. Imagine how bad it would be if they can’t even return in 2012? maybe if the track is destroyed by the protesters? can you imagine how unfortunate that would be.*sarcasm

  17. And What a marriage Bernie seems to have had. I telt sorry for the guy when I read that story

  18. McLarenFanJamm
    18th February 2011, 9:51

    Keith, If you get chance can you ask someone at McLaren how they’re affected by the current situation in Bahrain? Seeing as they are part owned by Bahrain businessmen.

    1. That’s a very good point that I hadn’t actually considered…

  19. In light of the recent developments, I would hope India rethinks what marshalls to get to support them:
    The Bahrainians might not be the right ones to do the job.

    1. From what I have read it didn’t sound like Indian nationals have been involved in the current situation.

      1. The article is about them getting 110 Bahraini marshalls to support them in organizing the race.

        1. Yes, but I don’t see why Bahraini marshals,

          might not be the right ones to do the job

          unless you are referring to what is going on in Bahrain? Otherwise it looks to me like you are saying that Bahrainis don’t know how to marshal F1 races…

          I’m genuinely sorry if I have missed something obvious!

          1. I was referring to the situation in Bahrain right now.
            Although these guys will probably be looking forward to helping out in India far more than racing in their own country right now.

  20. I would have thought McLaren wouldn’t have scheduled a pre-season media event at their base on the first day of one of the testing sessions.

  21. Keith, thank you for highlighting my comment :blush:

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