The FIA has released a statement this morning, before the teams and Bernie Ecclestone have had their scheduled 12-30pm meeting, designed to stop speculation about the Bahrain Grand Prix taking place next week.
After a long silence over the subject of Bahrain, this statement puts the governing body shoulder to shoulder with the Bahraini authorities and states in the clearest terms that the race will go ahead next week. The timing is interesting for another reason; in that region Friday is a day when protests typically take place after prayers, so there will be close attention paid to the reaction on the ground in Bahrain today to this statement.
The message of the statement within F1 circles is clear: the FIA is in charge and there is no room for dissent from the teams. It will be interesting to see the reaction as the day unfolds.
The statement reads as follows:
“The FIA is the governing body of motor sport and therefore of Formula One. As such, it sets the season’s calendars following the proposal of the Commercial Rights Holder (CRH) in accordance with the local national authorities in all matters relating to safety.
Within that context, the FIA ensures that any event forming part of an FIA World Championship is organised in compliance with the FIA Statutes and the relevant Sporting and Technical Regulations, and that the safety of the public, officials, drivers and teams is secured at all times during an event.
The FIA must make rational decisions based on the information provided to us by the Bahraini authorities and by the Commercial Rights Holder. In addition we have endeavoured to assess the ongoing situation in Bahrain.
President Jean Todt led a fact-finding mission to the Kingdom in November 2011, meeting a large number of decision-makers and opinion formers, including elected Shia members of parliament, the president of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, ambassadors from the European Union countries, the Crown Prince, the Interior Minister and many members of the business community.
All expressed their wish for the Grand Prix to go ahead in 2012, and since then, the FIA has kept in close touch with all these stakeholders. Away from the public eye, the FIA has received regular security briefings from the most senior diplomatic officials based in the Kingdom as well as from other independent experts.
The 2012 calendar, as presented by the CRH, was ratified by the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) in September 2011. Since then no request from the F1 Commission or the CRH has been made to the WMSC to either postpone or cancel the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Based on the current information the FIA has at this stage, it is satisfied that all the proper security measures are in place for the running of a Formula One World Championship event in Bahrain.
Therefore, the FIA confirms that the 2012 Gulf Air F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain will go ahead as scheduled.”
The line about ensuring that “the safety of the public, officials, drivers and teams is secured at all times during an event” is interesting in that “at all times” clearly means travel to and from the circuit and overnight. Many F1 personnel will be in Bahrain from Monday morning for seven days. Also worth noting is that this line doesn’t mention the media.
There is expected to be a large turnout of media representatives at the race, although staff from Japanese and Finnish TV have already opted not to travel as have some individual journalists.
Reaction to the statement will follow as the day goes on and this post will be updated accordingly.