The onus on whether this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix goes ahead has been placed squarely on the shoulders of the FIA.
The Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA) have made that unequivocally clear in a statement in response to suggestions the teams had a say in matters.
That followed remarks made yesterday by supremo Bernie Ecclestone in which he stated no-one could be forced to go, but making it abundantly clear if any team did pull out they would be in breach of contract.
Ecclestone added: “We can’t say ’you’ve got to go’. Commercially they have to go, but whether they decide to or not is up to them.”
FOTA, however, have switched the focus from the teams to the FIA.
Their statement read: “There’s been some media speculation recently to the effect the teams may seek to cancel this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
“That wouldn’t be possible. Teams are unable to cancel grands prix.
“We race in an international series called the FIA Formula One World Championship, and it is therefore for the FIA to offer the teams guidance on these issues.”
The whole saga surrounding the April 22 race at the circuit in Sakhir has now taken on a distinct political edge, something F1 has always tried to distance itself from.
That was clear yesterday when the Bahrain International Circuit issued a statement in which they quoted a number of sources and leading figures claiming the Gulf kingdom was safe to visit.
One such source was from Lotus who sent out two representatives to Bahrain recently on a fact-finding mission, producing what was supposed to be a private report to all team principals.
The BIC, however, used extracts from that report to substantiate their own case in the wake of damning headlines and articles.
In response, Lotus have been forced to issue their own statement seemingly criticising the BIC.
The statement read: “Earlier...the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) issued a press release attributing quotes to our team showing support for the Bahrain GP.
“These quotes were part of a full internal and confidential working document, that was also sent on a confidential basis to all F1 team managers last week.
“Lotus F1 Team is one of 12 contestants of the Formula One World Championship and we would never try to substitute ourselves for the FIA, which is the only party entitled to determine if a grand prix should go ahead or not, and we endorse the FOTA statement that was issued earlier to this effect.”