Why the teams haven’t said no to Bahrain

It’s here. The Bahrain Grand Prix weekend officially begun when free practice 1 was given the green light this afternoon.

The F1 headlines have, for the past few weeks, been completely dominated by the ongoing issue of whether or not the race will go ahead and if it is safe, and it has led to widespread criticism of F1 personnel, with many expressing their disapproval at their apparent nonchalance.

But by putting the obvious arguments aside for a moment, it’s clear to see why the F1 teams can’t say no to the Grand Prix, even if they’d rather not be there.

First of all, there’s the Concorde Agreement. Going against what they’ve signed could result in suspension from the championship or at the very least, heavy fines. It is against the written agreement for teams to pull out of events for moral or ethical reasons if the race is scheduled to take place.

But once again, we’re moving back towards those already much-debated issues by exploring that aspect.

It is no secret that F1 is incredibly close this year, with many teams struggling for pace and finding themselves in a less than ideal position. Some teams, such as Ferrari, are feeling the pressure more than most and have gone to no great lengths to disguise it. Fernando Alonso’s win in Sepang was not representative of the car’s abilities, and it was a race won on strategy with a dash of luck (and his obvious talent!). But Ferrari have themselves admitted that they’re not where they wanted to be and the mood, despite some strong results, is not exactly happy.

But what has this got to do with Bahrain? Well, it’s quite simple. The teams want as much track-time as possible to help with development and to give them more time to chase down — or pull away from — their rivals. How much the teams can learn depends on how much time they’re given in which to do it.

And on top of that, Bahrain is a unique circuit in that it provides teams with hot and dry conditions. In many ways, this is perfect for research and development but in addition, the climate will suit some teams more than others. At this stage, no-one knows for sure who is going to benefit most from the conditions, which explains why they would most probably be interested.

Of course, Force India elected to sit out FP2 for safety reasons, but from a purely racing perspective, the teams had probably been looking forward to this race for some time.

However, it doesn’t end there. Sponsorship is also an issue that could potentially arise considering teams are locked into various contracts. If the deal they’ve struck states the sponsor will get 20 racing weekends of international exposure for a certain price, the companies paying to have their name seen on an F1 car are going to feel cheated when one twentieth of their (supposed) F1-generated revenue is thrown away.

The sport is, in many ways, a business, and it is driven by money and success.  No, the two are not mutually exclusive as one often breeds the other, but political issues with potentially deadly repercussions should take priority over F1, and it is safe to assume the teams have taken that into account.

F1 has taken a massive risk by coming to Bahrain, and so far, it hasn’t gone exactly to plan. The official Formula 1 website has been taken down by revered hacking group Anonymous after they released a message, warning FOM of their plans.

It’s a difficult situation that F1 has found itself in, and there’s no completely flawless way of looking at it, which means it’s not as simple as saying yes or no to the Bahrain Grand Prix. There is a lot to be gained or lost. And whatever happens in Bahrain this weekend, some will gain and some will lose.

You can still express your concerns over the running of the race and let us know if you’ll be tuning in or not in our poll from last week.


3 thoughts on “Why the teams haven’t said no to Bahrain

  1. Fantastic article (as usual). Of course I’m going to chip in though 😛
    “Going against what they’ve signed could result in suspension from the championship or at the very least, heavy fines.” If they all stood and pulled out together then I think they’d be fine. There’s no way they’d all be DSQ’d. The teams rarely ever all agree though and there’s another problem- Mclaren is part owned by Bahrain and isn’t Whitmarsh still head of FOTA? F1 and politics are clearly so separate Bernie…

    As a Ferrari fan I’ve been disappointed that they haven’t spoken up but that said I don’t think I can really hold them to a higher standard than the rest of the teams even if they are probably in the best position of all of them to try to stop the GP.

    I started to wonder what the old strong willed pantomime lot would have done (Todt, Dennis, Flavio) if they were still in charge of the teams but then I remembered that Todt is the FIA president, Dennis never made any sense when he did speak and Flavio has already asked one of his drivers to risk his safety for a win so probably nothing at all.

  2. In many ways it’s like the start of FP1 or Q1 where teams are waiting for the others to make a move because they don’t want to be the one cleaning the track.

    Should one or two teams decide to boycott we may see more follow them or we might see other teams using it as a rare opportunity to gain possible points or certainly positions, which for Caterham, Marussia and HRT could be incredibly valuable.

    If one team, maybe Force India, decide not to race, other midfield teams stand to gain possible positions or points. The back of the pack even more so. As you said it’s a seriously close field this year.

    If a couple of the big teams at the front chose not to race, would the others follow or would they just pick over the scraps of points like Vultures. It’s very much an all or nothing situation for the teams I think.

    • Absolutely. It’s certainly not as simple as many like to make out. I think more trouble and arguments would come from certain teams deciding not to run, which is why we needed a decision from the FIA to prevent it from happening.

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