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.