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Lotus unhappy after ‘confidential’ quotes used by Bahrain chiefs
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Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Apr 2012   |  10:29 pm GMT  |  36 comments

The Lotus F1 Team has tonight issued a statement clarifying the intention of a report from which quotes attributed to representatives of the team appeared in an official Bahrain Grand Prix press release earlier today, the Enstone team saying it had been meant for confidential use only.

On a further day of frenetic reporting over the situation in the Gulf kingdom ahead of F1’s scheduled return next week, Sakhir organisers took the opportunity to go on the offensive in wake of the increasing stream of negative reports with race chairman Zayed Al Zayani claiming “scaremongering tactics” had created “huge misconceptions” over the situation on the ground in the country.

Supporting evidence to that stance came in part from the use of excerpts from a Lotus-commissioned briefing report, two team representatives having recently visited the country to assess the current situation there. According to the Sakhir track’s press release, the pair returned to report, among other things, that “we came away from Bahrain feeling a lot more confident that everything is in hand”.

Lotus has however taken exception to the reproduction of parts of the document and tonight sought to distance itself from the press release, saying while the findings had been relayed to its fellow teams, the quotes had not been meant for public consumption. The team also said it would never attempt to undermine the FIA’s power to determine whether or not a grand prix takes place.

“Earlier today, the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) issued a press release attributing quotes to our team showing support for the Bahrain GP,” the statement read. “These quotes were part of a full internal and confidential working document, that was also sent on a confidential basis to all F1 team managers last week.

“Lotus F1 Team is one of 12 contestants of the Formula 1 World Championship and we would never try to substitute ourselves for the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), which is the only party entitled to determine if a Grand Prix should go ahead or not, and we endorse the FOTA statement that was issued earlier to this effect.”

That earlier FOTA statement from the seven-team strong organisation’s secretary general Olivier Weingarten had underlined that any moves to cancel the Bahrain race had to come from the FIA, rather than the teams themselves. Bernie Ecclestone had this morning told The Times “if the teams don’t want to go, then we cannot make them.”

The FOTA statement read: “There’s been some media speculation recently to the effect that 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 1 World Championship, and it is therefore for the FIA to offer the Teams guidance on these issues.”

In a later round of interviews on Tuesday, Ecclestone told the BBC that “none of the teams have expressed any concern to me – quite the opposite” and reiterated it was up to officials in Bahrain to inform him if there was a problem with holding the race, something they had not yet done.

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36 Comments
  1. Kevin Green says:

    Well Lotus wont bear out of that very well! everything in hand??? oh please!. I feel we are right in the middle of the demise of the Bahrain Grand Prix for good.

    Personally I find it quite disgusting that the F1 circus takes place in such politically diverse countries anyway.

    Serious rethink time Bernie and maybe not just about the Bahrain Grand Prix what about a couple of other current and proposed venues all is maybe apparently well just now BUT is it?? and WILL it be in the future??

    1. Wayne says:

      Wow, everyone involved here is doing a grand job of ‘passing the buck’. Teams Can’t cancel it, Bernie said yesterday that he cannot force the teams to go. Is everyone connected with this sport just out to cover themselves?

      That aside, it is the Bahrain Government who should cancel this GP on the grounds of common sense. Why we all attribute this fiasco to Bernie is beyond me. He has a contract with the circuit and the Foreign Office and insurers are not saying ‘do not go to Bahrain’. It is down to the circuit organisers or the Government there to put a stop to this, not Bernie.

      Let me be clear, as of this morning Foreign Office Travel advice has Bahrain flagged as ‘green’ – no restrictions. What do you want Bernie to do exactly? Say sorry but we have changed our mind despite has having no legal grounds to do so?

      Yes, the GP should not go ahead in a state of military lock-down. Yes, it should probably be cancelled. However, not by Bernie and not by F1 – it should be cancelled by the only people who have the power to do so: Bahrain.

      While we are all being armchair experts (me included previously) on socio-political affairs and human rights because it makes us feel good to do so, almost none of us know the real situation in the country. Moreover, if you think you are getting pure, naked, unbiased truth from the salivating, sensationalist Western Media and opportunist Western Politicians you are gravely mistaken.

      The only Bahrain national to have posted on this site as far as I can see, is in favour of the GP and claims that Western Media is exaggerating the countries difficulties.

      Let us also spare a thought for the rule of law that the opposition has thrown out of the window from the very start, occupying public places (which is illegal in the UK too for any length of time) and moving on to increasing cycles of violent exchanges with the government.

      I support neither side as to do so would be hypocritical in the extreme and I do think the race should be called off. But we could also do with a dose of reality over this situation (me included as I have only just climbed off the band wagon) in so far as we ARE NOT qualified to speculate on what the realities are of life on the ground in Bahrain, how they should run their government, their sporting events or laws.

      1. Wayne says:

        Also, while an opportunist leech of a UK politician has recently called for the cancellation of the Bahrain GP, HIS OWN Foreign Office says there are no restictions at all – utterly disgraceful!

    2. DMyers says:

      By ‘diverse’, I think you mean ‘dodgy’. Nothing wrong with a bit of diversity, is there?

      When I saw the quotes last night I was a bit concerned that Renault/Toleman/Benetton had got themselves mixed up in yet another unwise situation, but was pleased when I saw their clarifying statement. However, all this does is further muddy the waters, and it is time for the FIA to takwe a stand.

  2. curlyputz says:

    If it’s safe for the drivers and all team personel then I say race regradless of the country, even if it’s a dull borefest. However I don’t think it is safe out there at the moment and if they do go, I hope it passes without drama as normal.

    1. DB4Tim says:

      “if it is safe”…yea key words and impossible to say with the situation that is going on.

  3. LD01 says:

    The fact that the organisers would stoop to this level tell you all you need to know.

    They will say (and pay) anything to make sure this GP goes ahead. Music to

    Bernie’s ears, I’m sure.

  4. alexbookoo says:

    There really are no heroes in this story from the F1 side, just everybody desperately trying to avoid the responsibility of taking a decision. It’s so disheartening. The only person in F1 who has stood up in public and shown himself to be an admirable human being is Mark Webber last year.

    1. DMyers says:

      I wholeheartedly agree. More obfuscation and hand-wringing is doing nobody any good.

    2. anti-PR says:

      Where is Mark Webber this weekend about China?

      Unicef says at least 37 Chinese citizens are being tortured or killed every week because they are allegedly against the government. Hundreds arrested every week and held without a trial or lawyer or any other rights.

      Hello, does anybody care about this? Or does this ‘sympathy’ only get to be shown when it is about a Muslim country?

      How about the human rights in India or Brazil (same thing happening with dozens of people killed and tortured every week by the government for working against the government).

      The hypocrisy is mind-boggling, yet everyone denies it.

      1. Valois says:

        How about the human rights in India or Brazil (same thing happening with dozens of people killed and tortured every week by the government for working against the government).

        I am terribly sorry to hear that about Brasil. It shows absolutely zero knowledge about its recent history.

    3. Tim says:

      Fully agree with that. Because money is involved no one has a conscience. Sad. And further, my concern isn’t if F1 people will be safe, but the residents of the country. This event may ignite protests and likely crackdowns.

  5. goferet says:

    Oh and now I feel much more confident about the Bahrain race happening with this new information stating that teams can’t decide on their own to boycott a race because they’re ineffect, slaves to the FIA, the same FIA Bahrain has a voting stake in —> Good news.

    Gosh, what a rollercaster we have been through these past couple of days and all this thanks to the liberal media who are well known for twisting facts and over blowing scenarios

    As the Lotus representatives noted, it’s all calm and nice in Bahrain with the exception of the wretched criminals who are trying to highjack the race just so they can carry out their criminal activities.

    So yeah, looking forward to getting to Bahrain but first, we have some issues to settle in China this weekend then we shall be over to the Kingdom ASAP.

    P.s.

    Say, it’s odd to see Lotus go on the defensive over their positive statements being made public, me thinks someone doesn’t want to soil their name just in case it all goes to *#?& just like a certain Damon Hill.

    Gotta love these PR individuals.

    1. devilsadvocate says:

      Re your last point, why do you think Mclaren have been just sitting there with their hands in their pockets whistling innocently this whole time?

      None of the teams want to back out but they also don’t want anyone to know it. Some more than others, messes like this certainly don’t make Lotus look too good.

  6. jpinx says:

    What a shame F1 has become a politial football. Bernie doesn’t give a damn as long as the money rolls in and both sides in Bahrain play with the huge international F1 audience to put themselves in good light, but the reality is that they are as bad as each other and the contract with Bahrain should not be renewed.

    Even China didn’t sink this low.

  7. Racyboy says:

    Oh well I guess there’s absolutely nothing to worry about…storm in a teacup.

    Obviously if it goes pear-shaped, Zayed Al Zayani, Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt will take full responsibility.
    The shorter version of the track should make it easier to line the perimeter with armed military.
    If there isn’t a track invasion at some stage, then these protesters aren’t trying hard enough.
    How many hundred million eyes will be watching?

  8. Sri says:

    We never know how much weight the financial and contractual obligations will have in the decision making. I suspect that factor is the only one that is being considered.

  9. tom in adelaide says:

    What more can be said about this?

    There’s a plethora of good tracks in stable countries that could be hosting an F1 race. Instead we have this rubbish.

    Whatever the greedy old men decide I for one will not be watching the race. It’s not even a difficult decision, given how boring the track is.

    1. Richard Mee says:

      ^^^This^^^

      I agree with every dang word!

  10. Pat Guillon says:

    The call on this race going ahead will not be made on any moral grounds but how it effects the teams sponsors.

  11. Sebee says:

    Let’s face it, FOM is not canceling this. They want the fee.
    I would too. This is one hosting fee they will have to earn. In the end race will go off without issues, you’ll see.

    1. Richard Mee says:

      I get the impression that with the amount of overall money tied-up in this particular ‘race’… it isn’t a case of want the fee but rather they NEED it. CVC has indebted F1 to a knife-edge. Unless one of their big-wigs is keen to empty their current account this month to the tune of an 8-figure sum to replace this fee then they will actually need this money to make their interest payment.

      Hence the mild whiff of hidden desperation in the air and why this whole sorry debacle is still dragging on. (in my opinion)

      As a side thought, for the amount of money CVC is rinsing from the sport – never to be returned – they should all be in prison.

  12. James Clayton says:

    That poor old buck must be getting pretty tired of being passed around so often!

    1. Tom in adelaide says:

      Good one:D

  13. MrNed says:

    I must admit to being pretty confused by the mixed messages about the Bahrain GP. On the one hand we’re being told that it would act as a focal point for potentially violent protests, then on the other we’re being told that the situation is calm and there’s no need to cancel. This latest twist is certainly interesting, but doesn’t really shed much light. What’s your gut feeling James? Will it go ahead?

    1. James Allen says:

      I think it will be difficult

      1. Jodum5 says:

        Well it can be calm today, but the likelihood of protests during the grand prix weekend are high. It’s an incredible opportunity to get your point across to the whole world and embarrass the regime. No way to know if it’ll be peacefully disruptive but plenty of demonstrations turn violent. Only way to know is to go ahead and see what happens.

        I really think F1 is between a rock and a hard place. They look bad going to the race and look bad deciding not to a few weeks before the event.

  14. Craig in Manila says:

    And, suddenly, Team Lotus will understand that it’s pretty silly to go sending a report to all F1 Teams and expect that it’ll stay confidential. With so many conflicting agendas, methinks that at least one leak to the GP organisers (or Bernie for that matter) was somewhat inevitable !

  15. Paul says:

    Do the sponsors really want to see their logos whizzing round a track under martial law, while we watch news footage of democracy protesters being shot a few miles away?

    The people who run F1 might not have any scruples, but if I was a sponsor, I would demand they leave my logo off the car for that race. Any such sponsor would earn a lot of kudos, and not risk having their logo etched into history in news reports alongside the deaths of pro-democracy protesters.

  16. Geenimetsuri says:

    The only reason to skip Bahrain is safety concerns.

    If it’s done because of political reasons then it’s monumental hypocrisy (cf. China, UAE).

  17. gondokmg says:

    Very little has changed in Bahrain between the
    anouncement of the 2012 race calender and now, so it’s not as if they can claim that they are cancelling because of some new or unforseeen developments.

    These protests have been going on for more than a year now, there is nothing that the FIA and the teams know now that they did not know three months ago. If they cancel, it’s because the race should never have been on the calender in the first place. That’s lots of egg on the FIA’s face, especially after dropping Turkey and waxing lyrical about the record breaking 20 race season.

    If it is safe to go then go, if it is not then cancel but for God’s sake leave the politics out of it, completely. The last thing we want is politicians meddling in F1 affairs as if they have not messed up enough things already!

  18. Matt W says:

    If it goes ahead and something bad happens then Bernie’s blase comments are going to come back to haunt him.

  19. Kevin says:

    James what happens if the UK or another country issue a ‘do not travel to’ notice for Bahrain? Isn’t public liability and traval insurance voided by those notices?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes. But it’s a long way from that at the moment

  20. Kevin McCaughey says:

    Whilst I am against the GP being held in principle, I have this nagging doubt. Let me tell you what it is.

    What if the GP *is* of huge economic importance and would really do the country good in the long term. If it gets cancelled this year I suspect it will then become impossible to hold it again.

    I understand and feel compassionate about how it would feel really wrong to hold it if the citizens are being shot in the street, but then another part of me thinks that it would be a huge healer and business generator for Bahrain (especially if it had occurred after some reform).

    But the decision has to be based at least on the minimal moral standards accepted by the majority of (semi)-civilized society. If they are shooting their own people in the street and this will cause uproar and more deaths, then the most basic of human values would say “No” to the GP, albeit reluctantly.

  21. Roberto says:

    Whether wer like it or not, we are living times were many countries are under rules far from democracy, but their governments have been elected by the approved laws, therefore it´s a matter if you do business with those countries. If that would be the matter there shouldn´t be a GP in China were people is heavily exploited, in India were there are an x number of social classes and poverty is everywhere, in Brazil regardless a democratic country it´s violent and for years F1 people had sufferred robberies, From last year there is a big sponsor on one team from a hugely controversial country like Venezuela wit a “dictator” on board, where corruption is everywhere and the contract never was passed and approved through the national assembly as required by law. Therefore F1 shall go with their say the it is non political and stay doing business everywhere, the fans and the viewers had the right to watch it or not, tv and thier ratings is where F1 get the income.

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