Webber speaks out on Bahrain decision

Having made his thoughts clear prior to yesterday’s FIA decision to schedule the Bahrain GP for October 30, Mark Webber deserves huge credit after reiterating his feelings on his personal website today.

Other drivers have kept quiet, which in the case of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button is inevitable given that the Bahrain government is the major shareholder in McLaren. Others have no such ties yet have preferred to say nothing.

Intriguingly, he still feels that the race might not go ahead on October 30.

“My opinion is unchanged since I was first asked about this in late February,” said Mark. “Even though a decision has been made, I’ll be highly surprised if the Bahrain Grand Prix goes ahead this year.

“In my personal opinion, the sport should have taken a much firmer stance earlier this year rather than constantly delaying its decision in hope of being able to re-schedule it in 2011. It would have sent a very clear message about F1’s position on something as fundamental as human rights and how it deals with moral issues.

“It’s obvious that the parties involved have struggled to reach a decision but sadly I feel that they still haven’t made the right one. Like it or not, F1 and sport in general isn’t above having a social responsibility and conscience. I hope F1 is able to return to Bahrain eventually but now isn’t the right time.

“As a competitor I do not feel at all comfortable going there to compete in an event when, despite reassurances to the contrary, it seems inevitable that it will cause more tension for the people of that country. I don’t understand why my sport wishes to place itself in a position to be a catalyst for that.”

19 Comments

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19 responses to “Webber speaks out on Bahrain decision

  1. Mick

    Well done Mark. Let’s hope others follow his lead.

  2. Fulveo Ballabeo

    Good for Mark. Given the human rights abuses, returning to Bahrain is a stain on the image of the sport, and and an embarrassment to all those involved in making the decision.

    Perhaps the teams will be strong enough not to go. If not, perhaps they’ll be strong enough to pull-in after a single lap, fulfilling their contractual commitment. Racing in such an environment could be the only type of move that actually brings the sport into more disrepute than the fiasco known as the 2005 US GP.

  3. Jake

    I completely agree with Fulveo. Well done, Mark! I can only hope that other drivers and teams will follow.

  4. Abuelo Paul

    Well done Mark, it’s a shame the other drivers don’t have the bottle to make a strong public opinion. I suppose after Bernie has assured the world it’s not about money we have to believe that it’s also not about human rights or freedom of speech or the ability to live in a free world. So what is it about? All thats left is massaging the egos of the major decision makers and sponsors of F1, proving again to the world that commercial agreements are honoured above sporting principles.

  5. cvrt

    Webber can speak his mind at no cost,he doesn’t have any responsibility to run an organization like the FIA, nor a team,like McLaren, that has to sort through these matters.

    The FIA doesn’t just represent the interests and opinions of English journalists.

    BTW, the Bahrain govt has nothing to do with McLaren. That is the personal piggy bank of the CP.

    It has been my opinion from the start that having F1 races in countries like BAH or the UAE or China or Turkey was misguided from the get-go and this situation was the inevitable outcome.

    • It’s not at no cost. He’s just said he would prefer not to race there. Thus a big statement and he’ll have to stand by it and perhaps even convince his fellow drivers.

      But good on him, finally someone with some balls and brains speaks up and shows he is with the fans and the media

    • So McLaren is not owned by the Bahrain government?

      Look here: http://www.bmhc.bh/

      Great comment about British journalists, really well argued…

      • cvrt

        Mumtalakat is not the Bahrain govt.It is not owned by the Bahrain govt. The portfolio represents the personal interests of the CP.

        So my pov gets your knickers in a twist? You’d prefer an echo chamber?

        As the whole Mosley affair proved,the FIA is more than a Euro-centric organization. You have your opinion (that I may happen to agree with) and scores of others have a different opinion, and when they prevail, you move on.

      • mvi

        The Mumtalakat website clearly states that it is owned by the Kingdom of Bahrain and is operated for its benefit. Perhaps evrt is trying to make some distinction between the Kingdom and the government, e.g. is it operated to enrich the royal family but not the people?

  6. Stone the crows

    Very well said and spot on. Bringing the circus to Bahrain will be a catalyst for more trouble. And whether you’re working for Mclaren, FiA, or FOM that should be the main concern, and those entities should in so many words say the same thing.

  7. Steve

    You can talk all you want but if you go to Bahrain your words are hollow.

    • Mick

      People may end up needing to go to Bahrain whether they like it or not because their livelihoods depend on it / employers require it. Smaller teams may end up bankrupt if FOM took legal action against a boycott. But their is a lot they can do to embarrass Bernie / FIA / Bahrain Govt if they do attend. They can refuse to entertain Bahrain dignitries; no podium celebrations; only participate in media to discuss their objections / politics. If the championships are decided before Bahrain & all teams co-operate together they can go further & not run in practice sessions etc. The event could be made very embarrassing for the Govt / royal family.

      • Steve

        Having a belief and making a stand requires sacrifice. If your belief is only deep enough that it stops at the second it hurts your own self interest then it really wasn’t that much of a belief.

        I do respect your opinion though.

  8. Seb

    I’ve been thinking- I know that that is a dangerous thing- that what if the participants refuse to race. As in, the participants of a Grand Prix individually refuse to partake in this automobile race. I wonder if it would be possible for certain figures related to the sport to provide a fund that would compensate those who refuse to participate, so that their livelihoods are not put at stake. I’d imagine that most of the workforce would be totally within their right to say to their highers that they’re not willing to take the risk. Free-lance journalists would be allowed access to the fund, whilst those who are employed by TV companies and news organisations would presumably not face the same financial pressures as most other people involved in the sport are faced with.

    What do you think, Adam?

    BTW, on the autosport forums there is a prominent member who appears to be experiening a lot in Bahrain. According to him, the consensus amongst the people about the race is that they feel, “a mixture of anger from and excitement from others at an opportunity at getting their voices heard”.

    Also, another thought. A lot of journalists, and Kevin Eason alluded to it earlier, have been noted to adopting a clear view on this matter. With so many journalists from international news organisations, let alone the national journalists, having been treated badly (an understatement), is it at all possible to feel safe travelling there and reporting freely? The FIA and FOM won’t attempt to censure the print, but surely it is reasonable to assume that the Bahrain government won’t treat F1 journalists with a super special treatment not afforded to any other reporter?

    Thanks and keep up the good work.

  9. pjg

    The false principle presented by so many, that if you go to one repressive place consistency demands that you go tall, is so beyond misguided it veers into the realm of farcical, childish argumentation.

    If you resort to claiming that this country and that country have abuse issues, you will exhaust your list of viable venues. Given that no threshold criteria is presented by these immature individuals, no present country ob tge F1 schedule should be given a GP. Australia is discriminatory towards its native people. Germany committed one of the greatest atrocities known to man. Italian xenophobia harms Tunisians, etc. Americans, in the process of warmongering, have killed civilians. There is no end to the misery one can ennumerate.

    But guess what? We can choose to make a stand. And we can choose to censor a government whose guns are trained on women, men, children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, doctors, nurses, mechanics, janitors, engineers, postmen, students, shopkeepers, reporters, lawyers, plumbers, homemakers, managers, cooks…

    No. I don’t see the false choice, the simplistic dichotomy. Mark’s right. Adam’s right. Apologists and misguided, immature logicians aren’t.

    If it is necessary that you attend, Adam, I hope you remain safe. Also, I will not hold it against the teams or drivers if they attend. They all have been placed in an impossible position by Bernie and the FIAs constant, dunderheaded politicking. It is not hypocrisy as so many claim. No one should be forced to lose everything to stand on principle, pleasing know one but selfish contrarians.

  10. Jimmy

    My understanding is that the teams are running under provisions of the expired Concord Agreement. Under that the teams are contractually obliged to run 16 races. The BGP will be raced only if the teams agree correct? If the teams want to show solidarity there is no better time than now.

    • Abuelo Paul

      This a very good and relevant point, if correct, then the F1 teams could in fact choose to non-compete in this event still fulfilling their contractual agreements.
      A mass arrival at circuit and then refusal to race would be pointless, with the worlds media all perched on street corners desperate to get the footage showing locals protesting. Personally I feel that the simple presence of a photographer and reporters fuels a situation beyond reason.
      The only way is a TOTAL boycott. NO personnel or reporters to enter Bahraini territory. That would be the best solution for the people of Bahrain.

  11. There’s nowhere to hide on this one guys. No posturing just action. Teams don’t go. Drivers don’t go. Fans don’t go. Don’t broadcast it on TV. Don’t report on it. Don’t watch it on TV.
    Where’s the argument?

  12. Ammar

    I’m Bahraini and have the passion for F1 and have attended some of Bahrain Grand Prix ………. However Rights come before pleasures and Freedom is our pursuit. Really those comments by Webber and you guys show that there still people on earth that care and feel the pain of others. Wish everything will settle at the end and the race will be held in the coming years. Peace to all

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