Jean Todt has broken his long and conspicuous silence over the Bahrain controversy. Until now, the ultra-low-profile FIA president had been reluctant to speak on the issue, despite deciding that the sport should push ahead with this weekend’s race in the troubled island Kingdom.
So unremarkable was Frenchman Todt’s visit to Shanghai last weekend that most reporters believed he in fact left China on Saturday. He then appeared on Sunday’s grid, giving reluctantly short soundbites and congratulating his former Ferrari colleague Ross Brawn on Nico Rosberg’s win.
Todt even finally commented on Bahrain. Asked why the event is going ahead despite the ongoing controversy, he told German RTL television: “It has a date on the calendar and was always planned.
“There has been some controversy about it, but the FIA is a sports organisation. We are only interested in sport — not politics. Our responsibility is that people can go there and have good and secure conditions. This will be the case,” Todt insisted.
“We have spoken in this regard with representatives of the government, with the embassies and with neighbouring countries, as well as with European foreign ministries. We have made an extension examination with a lot of checks. It is clear that the grand prix can go ahead.
“At the moment, a major golf tournament is going ahead in Bahrain. On one hand, there are unpleasant political aspects as well, but it’s the same thing all over the world. On the other hand, we are a sport. We are confident that the next grand prix will go ahead just as successfully as this one here in China,” he added.