One of the stories that circulated during the weekend of the Bahrani Grand Prix, was that Force India had chosen to withdraw from the second free practice session, in order to get back to the hotel safely. A reasonable decision, considering four team members were involved in an incident on Wednesday, when leaving the Sakhir International Circuit.
Then during Saturday´s qualifying round, not a single image appeared showing the Force India cars, promptly starting rumours that Bernie Ecclestone had somehow blocked the team from exposure on the TV feed, since he is controlling FOM and thus controlling what goes out to the viewers. But there were a few issues tat kept bothering me. One was that Force India left the circuit on Friday, a full two hours after the second practice session was over, which then made no sense as to why they should not participate in the event in the first place.
One more thing that kept picking at my brain, was that of Bernie Ecclestone actually told the TV crews that not a single image of Force India was allowed to be filmed, then why wasn´t the sponsors reacting? Why didn´t we hear Vijay Mallya respond to this? Well, there might be a very simple explanation.
Bahraini law says that it is not allowed to show advertising for alcohol, and as we know the Force India cars have prominent ads from Whyte & Mackay, Kingfisher beer and Vladivar vodka on their side, all easy to spot. But looking at the others cars, and driver overalls, McLaren had no Johnny Walker ads on their cars, the embroidered patch on the overalls were covered, so now the rumour is, that Force India simply refused to remove the advertisements from the cars, causing Bernie Ecclestone, rightfully, to refuse TV exposure. Not only is it a bad idea to refuse this sort of thing, it is breaking the law.
These rumours are yet to be confirmed, and contacting the team is as useful as having building a sauna in the Gobi desert. However, I still maintain that Bernie Ecclestone would have known some part of this, and therefore his excuses, that he did not know why and no one wants to see some cars drive around in 10th anyway, are still rubbish.