Force India opted not to participate in the second practice session on Friday, saying they much rather preferred to be able to leave the track while it was still daylight. As a result, FOM, the company in charge of broadcasting the event, controlled by Bernie Ecclestone, somehow ‘forgot’ to show any live footage of the two Force India cars, arousing suspicions that there is a lot more to it.
Ok, so besides the fact that Force India said they wanted to leave the track earlier on Friday to be able to get back to the hotel in daylight, which is understandable, I fail to see the logic behind the move, since the team left the track 2 hours after the second practice session was over. I was searching for answers to this conumdrum, but came up short. Force India issued a statement, just before they decided to pull out, in which deputy team principal Bob Fernley said:
“We’re going to limit it. We are looking at it from the point of view of the well being of everybody, and the comfort of everybody is in place, and that’s the key objective for us.
“But the team is absolutely fully committed to racing here. We will be there for qualifying and the race. We’re just going to look at the programme of what we’re going to do now. It’s possible we may not run at all, or just do half a session or whatever it is.”
Right, so it´s a safety issue. Not a problem, and everyone seems to be fully aware of the decision. It´s all good then, right? Not quite. What we know is that Force India pulled out entirely from FP2 on the grounds of safety issues, but when the team was participating in the qualifying round on Saturday, not a single TV frame was shown of Force India. The only glimpse came when Mark Webber´s on-board camera showed the Aussie driver driving past Paul di Resta.
Since then Bernie Ecclestone has been looking into his little book of excuses, unfortunately he has picked the book of bad excuses to bring this weekend.
“I was busy and didn’t notice Force India were not on. I will look into it. It could be technical, but I suspect it was more to do with the Bahrain laws on no alcohol advertising. They have a whisky company prominently on the car. They should have taken it off. TV could not show that.”
“Our people were more or less concentrating on who was going to be on pole, rather than somebody going to be 10th. Nobody cares if someone is ninth or 11th. Only the people who are watching a particular team. None of the other teams seem to have a problem.”
Let´s dissect this: According to Bernie no one wants to see some cars drive around in 10th place. Of course, other than the many fans of the teams, the sponsors paying a huge amount of money and the team itself. Bernie also says that ‘our people was more or less concentrating on who was going to be on pole ‘. Here he is basically saying that ‘our people’ are the TV crews. The feed is owned by FOM, controlled entirely by Bernie Ecclestone. He decides what goes out, ie. he made the decision, so to say he has no control of it, is nonsense.
Bernie also said: “For those asking, we have no control over who is being shown on the world feed, sorry you didn’t get to see any of Di Resta’s lap.”
That is a blatant lie. Sure he too must conform to rules by the government, and if they say you cannot show alcohol ads on the cars, then of course. But to say that they have no control over it, is nonsense. Bernie owns the right to broadcast the event, and he decides what goes out. Especially if you look at the next paragraph.
The other part of the bad excuse, is that Force India ran with prominent alcohol advertisements on the car, and that they should have taken those off, because of the alcohol laws in Bahrain. But Bernie fails to notice that in 2010, the last time we had a race in Bahrain, Force India drove arund the circuit, and was shown on TV a lot, with plenty of alcohol commercials on their cars. I present exhibit A:
Whyte & Mackay is a huge sponsor of the team, but one of the explanations to the black out by the TV crew, is that every team has to have their liveries approved in countries with restrictions, and apparently the pictures shown in the first practice session, depicting alcohol advertisements, was too much. That is the reason, some says. However, a team insider has said, that “everyone knows what happened. Bernie is giving Force India a slap on the wrist for missing Friday’s second practice session.”