Has Bernie sought Force India revenge?

Paul di Resta 2012 Malaysia FP2

Twitter was alight with speculation during this afternoon’s qualifying session for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Force India pulled out of yesterday’s second practice session due to safety concerns. Since then, the team’s cars have been conspicuously absent from the television coverage, which is centrally provided by Bernie Ecclestone’s company, Formula One Management.

Despite the fact that at one point the Force Indias had set the two fastest times during Q2, they were nowhere to be found on the coverage. Viewers noticed. Knowing the way Bernie Ecclestone operates, it’s not difficult to imagine that he has decided to retaliate against Force India for their decision not to run in practice 2.

F1 journalist Adam Hay-Nicholls let slip that FOM have been ordered in the past to avoid filming particular teams.

He expanded on this point, saying that the repercussions for Force India could go beyond today’s qualifying session, and even beyond the race weekend.

What disgusts me about this is that Force India withdrew from yesterday’s practice session for legitimate safety concerns. Four of their employees were caught up in a petrol bomb attack while going about their normal business in Bahrain. In these circumstances, it really is not surprising that the team would prefer to pack up early in order to avoid travelling in the dark.

If Bernie Ecclestone really has decided to exact his petty revenge on Force India for this, it makes me feel sick to my stomach. He is putting his narrow business interests ahead of lives.

The only clue Adam Hay-Nicholls has provided as to the identity of the other team that has been ‘censored’ by FOM is that the team no longer exists in the form it did at the time:

This suggests that the team was effectively put out of business, or that the owner of the team had to leave the sport. Clearly, a lack of television coverage does not help on that front.

On the one hand, it’s incredible to think that FOM think that the viewers are mugs not to notice this petty behaviour by not filming Force India. But it’s also worrying that FOM have done this before, and we haven’t noticed.

I am considering buying some Force India merchandise in a show of support. The way they are being pressurised into neglecting their own safety is absolutely disgusting.

There is no way I will buy any merchandise from the official Formula 1 website, but this Force India flag available at Grand Prix Legends looks quite good.

1 comment

  1. I didn’t see qualifying (due to boycotting the sporting elements of Bahrain for reasons discussed in a previous Stepreo comments area). Probably just as well, since if I’d seen the “counter-boycott” of Force India happening before my eyes, half the street would probably have had earache…

    Force India was right to do what it did on Friday. In the absence of greater freedom in the paddock (the analogies outside are eerie), missing FP2 to ensure staff safety was not only prudent, but might have been a wise thing for others to copy. The other teams got through the Manama situation due to sheer dumb luck.

    For the FOM to offer criticism of a move that was far safer than the behaviour of the other teams is foolish. To do so in a situation forced on them by the behaviour of powers-that-be that broke their own regulations is downright reprehensible. Bernie, for one, owes Force India a massive apology. It won’t happen, but he still owes it.

    I recently picked up a Force India hat because they’ve been my favourite team since they were Jordan. Let’s say there’s an “I Feel the Force” t-shirt I’ve had an eye on in my local F1 shop, and if they’ve still got it I’m going to buy it next time I’m in the area. I may already have a Force India T-shirt, but at times like this showing them that there are financial rewards as well as supportive ones to doing the right thing feels right. By this point I’m tempted to start some sort of campaign on these lines…