F1 teams tackle Bernie blast
Formula One's fraternity have fired back at Bernie Ecclestone’s claim that it’s up to them whether they decide to attend this month’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
With the debate still raging over the staging of the spectacle of speed in the troubled Gulf kingdom, F1 supremo Ecclestone (right) seemingly passed the buck to the teams by insisting they in fact held the power to have the controversial race cancelled.
On Tuesday Ecclestone, who is known to want the race to take place, claimed he was in a powerless position, declaring: “We’ve no way we can force people to go there. 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.’”
However, with the green light set to go in only 10 days’ time at the Sakhir circuit, the Formula One Teams’ Association (Fota) have told Ecclestone the decision rests with him and the FIA.
A statement from Fota read: “There’s been some media speculation recently to the effect the teams may seek to cancel this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix. That wouldn’t be possible. Teams are unable to cancel Grands Prix.
“We race in an international series called the FIA Formula One World Championship, and it is therefore for the FIA to offer the teams guidance on these issues.”
The argument comes with the Shanghai Grand Prix just days away and with a judgment on Bahrain needed to be passed before that race starts. Last year’s meet at Sakhir was cancelled and as this year’s approaches there has been fresh violence on the island - protestor Ahmed Ismail was shot dead last month and earlier this week saw a bomb attack on police.
The reaction from Fota will have increased the pressure on the governing FIA, which has remained uninvolved in the debate, to finally make their position clear.
Bahrain’s Sheikh Abdullah bin Isa al-Khalifa is one of the 26 members of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council, which caused considerable anger last year when voting unanimously to persevere with attempting to reschedule the race despite widespread public opposition.