Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone went after the Bahrain government, calling them “stupid” for hosting a Grand Prix since it has provided a chance for political protestors to air their grievances to the world.
“The government here are really, in a lot of ways, stupid to put this race on, because it’s a platform for people to use to protest,” said Ecclestone, who also touched on politicians back in Britain that had called for him to cancel the event (“They suddenly pop up, which is good because no one knows who they are and suddenly they get their name in the paper,” he said).
Anti-government protests continue to persist in the country as the Grand Prix goes on in Sakhir. Protesters have had nightly skirmishes with local police, with Sayed Yousif al-Muhafda of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights telling Reuters that nearly 20 villages saw protests and conflicts on Friday evening. In addition, a protest rally along a major motorway in Bahrain also drew thousands, with banners of “don’t race on our blood” inside the crowd.
As for the matter of human rights playing a role in where F1 should race, Ecclestone indicated that it was not the sport’s place to cast judgement on such things.
“We’re not here, or we don’t go anywhere, to judge how a country is run. Human rights are that the people that live in a country abide by the laws of that country,” he said.
“I might be in Africa doing 200km/h with no problem. If I come to England and do the same thing, I’m in trouble. So it’s a case of whatever the laws are in a country. People need to respect them, all of us [visiting], and the people that live here.”