Bernie Ecclestone said today that he can’t force the F1 teams to go to the Bahrain GP.
Tensions have been rising in Bahrain due to both the imminent arrival of the F1 circus and a hunger strike by a prominent imprisoned activist.
Abdulhadi al-Khawaja was jailed for life after last year’s uprising, and will be the subject of an appeal to be held the day after the Grand Prix.
On Monday evening seven policemen were injured when what was described as a home made bomb exploded during a skirmish with protestors. A government spokesman said it was being treated as an ‘act of terrorism.’
Ecclestone insists that the race is still on, although his latest statement appears to be an attempt to divert responsibility for any decision away from himself, as clearly the teams themselves are waiting for action from the FIA and FOM.
“We’ve no way we can force people to go there,” he told Ian Parkes of Press Association Sport. “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’.”
Regarding the prospect of the race being cancelled, Ecclestone insisted that the Bahrainis were happy for it to go ahead.
“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 [ie the government] can also say we don’t want it because there is too much risk.
“We’ve an agreement with 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.”