Formula chiefs can't force teams to go to Bahrain
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
A Bahraini anti-government demonstrator runs after adding tires to a fire in Sitra, Bahrain. Clashes with riot police erupted during a protest in the village against the April 22 Formula 1 Grand Prix. AP photoFormula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone admitted yesterday that he was unable to force teams to participate in this month’s Bahrain Grand Prix following a fresh outbreak of violence in the Gulf state.
Formula One teams are reportedly reluctant to race in Bahrain this season amid ongoing concerns over security in the country.
Last year’s event was postponed following violent anti-government protests before eventually being removed from the schedule altogether.
Now Ecclestone has confirmed that the fate of this year’s event on April 22 could be decided by the teams as authorities in Bahrain confirmed seven policeman were injured late on Monday in a bomb attack.
“We’ve no way we can force people to go there,” Ecclestone said.
“We can’t say, ‘You’ve got to go’ -- although they would be in breach of their agreement with us if they didn’t go, but it doesn’t help.
“Commercially, they have to go, but whether they decide to or not is up to them. I’ve had no-one say anything other than, ‘We’re going to be racing in Bahrain.’” Ecclestone added that, as far as he was concerned, this year’s race was still on.
“Yes. If the people in Bahrain are happy that they can run the event,” he said. “We’re not involved in any of the politics in Bahrain, over who is right or wrong.
“When you go to somebody’s country you have to respect exactly how they run their country and the laws of that country.
“The National Sporting Authority in that country are the people who can say, ‘Well, we think we’d prefer not to run the event.’ “The promoter can also say, ‘We don’t want it because there is too much risk.’
“We’ve an agreement with (governing body) the FIA that Bahrain is a round of the world championship, and we’ve a contract with the promoters, but I want to make clear it’s nothing to do with finance.
Earlier this week, British media reported that Formula One teams were reluctant to race in Bahrain.
Two return tickets
Hundreds of F1 engineers, mechanics and catering staff have been issued with two return tickets from Sunday’s Grand Prix in China: one for Bahrain and one for Europe and home in case the race was cancelled, The Times said, without quoting sources.
One unnamed member of the 12 Formula One team principals separately told The Guardian that he believed the race in the Gulf state on April 22 should be either cancelled or postponed.
“I feel very uncomfortable about going to Bahrain,” the principal was quoted as saying. “If I’m brutally frank, the only way they can pull this race off without incident is to have a complete military lock-down there. And I think that would be unacceptable, both for Formula and for Bahrain. But I don’t see any other way they can do it.”
The Bahrain GP was called off in 2011 due to the unrest that gripped the state after a crackdown on protests demanding democratic reforms.