The vast majority of the 12 F1 teams have declined to comment on the sport’s deepening Bahrain crisis. With uncertainty surrounding the staging of next week’s race at Sakhir by the controversial Bahraini government, CNN contacted every one of the competing teams.
Nine declined to comment, but world champions Red Bull said the decision about whether or not teams attend belongs to the governing FIA.
“It’s not up to the teams to pick and choose which races we take part in,” said a spokesman.
Red Bull’s other team, Toro Rosso, left open the possibility of an eleventh-hour cancellation.
“I certainly don’t think it will be a case of some teams going and some not going,” said a spokesman. “It will be everybody or nobody.”
Some media outlets, including the BBC as well as London’s Daily Telegraph, are now reporting that most F1 teams are expecting the race to be called off. And the Telegraph has quoted Bernie Ecclestone as admitting he is now “unsure” if it will go ahead.
But in the UK Express newspaper, the F1 chief executive said: “I have my people out there and they are walking around enjoying life just as they would here in London.”
The latest reports in the mainstream press, however, do not bode well, with AFP news agency claiming protesters “wielding knives and sticks” attacked villagers on Wednesday.
Oksana Kosachenko, who is Caterham driver Vitaly Petrov’s manager, said the F1 teams have “divided into two camps” over the Bahrain issue.
“If Bernie Ecclestone guarantees us safety and tranquility and promises the race won’t become an instrument of any political manipulations, we will come,” she told the Ria Novosti news agency.
She added that “extra security of the teams is necessary in the hotels, and the spectators should be guarded as well.”
Typically for the current FIA president, Jean Todt has been conspicuously silent on the Bahrain issue, but the Guardian newspaper said the Frenchman will tell the teams this weekend in China that the race is going ahead.
And during the same scheduled meeting in China, Ecclestone will deliver a similar message, the British newspaper added.
But even Barack Obama has waded into the Bahrain situation, issuing a statement revealing the United States’ “deep concern” about violence in the Arab state.
“I think I don’t know more than you know,” world champion Sebastian Vettel told reporters in Shanghai.