No-one in F1 really wants to go to Bahrain, according to the correspondent for The Times newspaper.
Kevin Eason has admitted he was harangued by the low-profile FIA president Jean Todt in Shanghai last weekend, after a series of articles criticising the decision to plough ahead with the grand prix.
“Todt admitted that he will have to live with his decision,” wrote Eason, “and he will be in Bahrain to oversee events at the grand prix.”
The British journalist insisted, however, that he has “talked at length to team personnel, team principals, secretaries, motor home catering staff, public relations men — and I cannot find anyone who truly wants to go to Bahrain.”
One female member of Williams’ catering staff has had her contract terminated for refusing to go to Bahrain on moral grounds.
But the Austrian legend Niki Lauda said he has no qualms. When asked if he’s travelling from Shanghai to Bahrain to work as usual as a pundit for German television RTL, he insisted: “Yes of course.
“The FIA and Ecclestone have made a decision, as they believe it is safe enough to go. So we go.”
On Monday, a photo emerged on the internet showing protesters burning down the largest F1 billboard on capital Manama’s main highway. It is also reported that a teenage boy is lying in intensive care after being shot by Bahrain police at a funeral.
“Nobody has been shot,” F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone snapped at a reporter for AFP news agency in China. “What are you talking about?”
The reporter said: “He (Ecclestone) then swore and stormed off.”