Conspiracy theorists, please stand up now.
Despite denials from Bernie Ecclestone’s end and silence from the Force India camp, rumours are rife that the team’s negligible TV exposure during Saturday’s running at the Bahrain Grand Prix was payback for the team’s decision to skip Friday’s second practice session.
In our viewing of yesterday’s qualifying, we saw a handful of frames of Paul di Resta’s car in an onboard shot with Mark Webber when he was on his final Q3 flying lap. Outside of this, there was not a single shot of the Silverstone team’s cars in the entire qualifying session.
No one from the team was prepared to comment on the record regarding the matter, although one unnamed team member hinted that it was “payback” for their refusal to run in Friday’s second practice session.
The team elected to pack up early on Friday and get its team members back to their hotels before dark, following an incident on Wednesday evening when one of the team’s hire cars was caught up in a violent clash between antigovernment protestors and Bahraini police.
The decision infuriated Ecclestone, who even offered to travel with the team members without security personnel in a bid to allay their fears.
FOM, the Ecclestone-owned production company that edits and issues the ‘world feed’ used for all TV broadcasting, has been criticised as kowtowing to an alleged directive from Ecclestone not to give Force India any airtime.
“Nobody cares if someone is ninth or 11th,” he hit back, when the allegation was thrown at him overnight.
“Only the people that are watching a particular team [will care]. I spoke to our [FOM]people and they were more or less concentrating on who was going to be on pole, rather than somebody going to be tenth.”
In that case, Bernie, one should probably ask why we even bother to broadcast Q1 and Q2?