F1 team bosses turned out in force as officials insisted next month’s Bahrain grand prix is definitely on. The sport’s chief executive Bernie Ecclestone joined Sir Frank Williams, Martin Whitmarsh, Christian Horner, Mercedes’ Nick Fry and Pirelli’s Paul Hembery at a media lunch in London.
“Talk about heavy support,” wrote Reuters correspondent Alan Baldwin on Twitter.
The self-described ‘PR offensive’ to promote the forthcoming Bahrain grand prix followed reports earlier this week that said the FIA had decided to cancel the race due to ongoing unrest in the island Kingdom.
“It’s all nonsense. We’ll be there as long as they want us,” said Ecclestone. “Seriously, the press should just be quiet and deal with the facts rather than make up stories.”
If it was up to the drivers, though, they might give it a miss. Timo Glock is a brave lone voice: “Why should we expose ourselves to unnecessary risk?” he asked rhetorically. “If it was up to me, we wouldn’t go there,” he told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.
Bahrain circuit boss Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al-Khalifa, however, dismissed the risk of violence.
“These incidents can happen anywhere,” he told AP news agency. “It’s not going to stop our grand prix.”
Ecclestone added: “I don’t need any personal security, but whatever’s necessary will be looked after.”
According to a poll in popular British magazine F1 Racing, 60,000 of the 100,000 F1 fans polled internationally said it is “not right” for the race to go ahead. Looking forward to the event, however, is the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.
Nabeel Rajab, the president, is quoted by the Telegraph: “(F1) is helping dictators and we are going to protest. We are going to use the opportunities that a lot of journalists are there and we are going to protest everywhere.”