With F1 currently scheduled to arrive en masse in Bahrain next week, a crisis surrounding the possible cancellation of the island Kingdom’s race is continuing to deepen. The teams have now denied Bernie Ecclestone’s claim that they can simply choose to skip the event.
“That would not be possible,” said a statement issued by the teams association FOTA. “Teams are unable to cancel (a) grand prix.”
Bahrain, meanwhile, stepped up its campaign, accusing some of deploying “scare-mongering tactics” designed to force the race’s cancellation.
The race organisers released a report conducted by Lotus, following the Enstone based team’s recent reconnaissance mission to Bahrain.
“We came away from Bahrain feeling a lot more confident that everything is in hand,” Lotus is quoted as having reported.
The team, however, reacted angrily, accusing the organisers of having released a “confidential” document.
“Lotus F1 Team is one of 12 contestants of the … world championship and we would never try to substitute ourselves for the FIA”, said the Enstone based team.
Surmised Times correspondent Kevin Eason on Twitter: “(It’s) getting messy…”
At the same time, F1 chief executive Ecclestone became fully immersed in the political situation on Tuesday, reporteding personally phoning Bahrain’s crown prince to express concern about the jailed hunger striker.
An Amnesty International report published this week had called for Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja’s release, amid claims he is now close to death and being force-fed.
But the Bahrain government, through its information affairs authority, insisted that only police and rioters are being injured in “infrequent and remote clashes”.
Also weighing into the argument was Sir Jackie Stewart, the eloquent triple world champion, who said: “I would go.
“The commercial rights holder has sold a package, at a price, and it is part of the constructors’ agreement that they attend the races that have been published,” he told the Guardian.
“As a team owner I would have to honour my agreement both orally and legally.”
Whatever happens, the Bahrain saga – stretching back now over a year – is not good news for the future of the island Kingdom’s calendar spot.
“Maybe we wouldn’t renew it (the contract),” Ecclestone admitted to the BBC. “We’ll have to look and see.”