World Champions dodge Bahrain safety questions

Most F1 drivers continue to avoid making any comments on the situation in Bahrain, despite reality hitting home in the paddock after members of the Force India team were caught up in an incident last night.

Having talked to the people directly involved Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Paul Di  Resta expressed some reservations, but the big names continue to follow a politically correct path and avoid any controversy.

While for obvious reasons no one expects them to get involved in a political or human rights debate, most declined to offer even a simple comment on the safety of their own team members being of concern.

“I think generally being in the paddock surely there is no problem,” said Sebastian Vettel. “Being outside of the paddock, maybe there is a risk, but there’s a risk everywhere we go. If you imagine when we go to Brazil, it’s not the place you want to be, as well, depending on the area you are. It’s not a big problem and I’m happy once we start testing tomorrow then we worry about the stuff that really matters – tyre temperatures, cars…”

To make it clear Vettel did offer a grin and was trying to lighten the mood with the latter remark.

Asked if he would go home if a petrol bomb landed near his car, Vettel said: “I don’t know, it never happened to me, I hope it doesn’t happen to me in the future.

“I haven’t seen anyone throwing bombs. I don’t know, I don’t think it’s that bad. A lot of hype, that’s why I think it’s good we start our job here, which is the sport, and nothing else.”

He was also asked about those who oppose the race: “I haven’t met them, maybe it’s because I only arrived this morning, but I haven’t seen much of what people are talking about.”

Meanwhile Jenson Button said: “I’m not going to get into the details of it. You’re here interviewing me as a driver. Exactly what I’m going to talk about is motor racing. That’s the important thing at the moment. The outside issues, I’m not going to talk about, because it’s not what I’m here to do.”

Asked by this blog about talking to him as a human being, he said: “No but you’re not are you? You’re sat here with a tape recorder in front of me. If I wasn’t racing in F1, would you have that in front of me? You might have but I wouldn’t be able to answer any questions…”

Pressed on the fact that his mechanics were here to work for the drivers and were potentially at risk, he said: “That’s wrong in itself, we’re here to work together as a team, they’re not here just to work for us.”

Meanwhile asked about the Force India incident, Fernando Alonso admitted that he didn’t know any details, but said the sport takes its lead from the FIA.

“I don’t have all the information now to have the right answer for sure,” said Alonso. “There is nothing new to say from me, to be honest. We are here because the decision made by people who had all the information in their hands, the FIA etc, so we are following their instructions. If we are here it’s because everyone thinks we safe to be here, so no problem. But obviously we need all the information about this incident, etc.”

Michael Schumacher refused point blank to make any comment: “If you don’t mind I don’t really want to get involved. I’d just like to say I don’t want to mix the sport with political things. I’m here for the sport.”


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8 responses to “World Champions dodge Bahrain safety questions

  1. Stone the Crows

    I typically prefer that actors, atheletes and other celebrities keep their political views to themselves, and not use their status as an opportunity to proselytize. Many of these same drivers do a great deal of humanitarian work on their own, so I don’t see them as heartless and cynical in this situation. In this case I suspect that most are doing what they have been advised to do, which is avoid making any statments that could indeed be used to heat up tensions in Bahrain. Likewise I’m sure some are also being sure they are not biting the hand that feeds them. In any case I wonder if all the team handlers realize that non responsive answers are red flags for journalists? Keep up the good work Adam, and I hope you and everyone else is safe, and level heads prevail.

  2. graham

    There is too much money involved in these things for the drivers, teams, or anyone else to make any real comments about the very real issues at hand in the country – it’s actually quite appalling.

    I cover the war in Afghanistan as a photographer and writer, and I see the same types of non-committal answers by those with vested interests… very disappointing from a human perspective. Keep up the good work Adam!

  3. Steve - USA

    I guess the drivers are there for the same reason the journo’s are there 10 feet away asking them questions. There is a race this weekend. If a journo has a moral problem, stay home.

    • Read the story, I’m not talking about moral problems here – that was a question for some weeks ago and F1 decided to come. It’s about being a human being and expressing some concern for the safety of the people who work in the sport including their own crews.

    • graham

      Steve, it seems the issue is lost on you. Perhaps you should follow your own advice…

  4. Adam S

    Wrong, wrong, wrong – on every level. F1 should not be here. Well done to ‘the Hulk’ for expressing what most must be feeling. No comment from Mark Weber yet – is Red Bull keeping him on a short leash this weekend (good luck with that!). I’ve only missed watching 5 or 6 races since I was 14 – I’m now 45. Not sure if I can bring myself to watch this weekend. F1 and the FIA looks like being irreparably damaged by its decision to go to Bahrain. Sadly, gagging the drivers is not doing their own personal stock any good at all either. The only positive, although not in the way the FIA or Bahrain Govt intended, is that the focus of the world is well and truly on Bahrain now. Lets hope that this increased focus does not directly result in further violence or worse either at Sakhir or throughout Bahrain. Stay safe Adam.

    • Short leash – good call. Mark was not available to us on Thursday.

    • graham

      Adam, I am right there with you. Same for me, been watching F1 for nearly 40yrs now and this weekend sits particularly poorly with me. Given my own experiences around the world in these types of situations, the hypocrisy and unfettered greed are nauseating to me.

      Agreed, good call on Webbo, I think he is one of only a couple drivers who would be able to give a reasonable answer to any of these questions – the media training these guys are getting is coming through loud and clear. Bunch of robots.

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