Jean Todt confident Bahrain row will not harm Formula 1's image
|By Jonathan Noble||Saturday, April 21st 2012, 13:03 GMT|
FIA president Jean Todt does not believe Formula 1's image will be damaged by the widespread critical media coverage the Bahrain Grand Prix has received this weekend.
Speaking on the back of the events in Bahrain becoming headline news throughout the world, Todt said he was 'saddened' by the way some sections of the media were portraying what was happening in the Gulf State.
However, he believes that F1's brand is so strong that it will not be affected by the negative perception that many people have been left with.
"I am sorry about what has been reported," he said. "I am not sure that all that has been reported corresponds to the reality of what is happening in this country.
"I feel F1 is very strong. I think it is a very strong brand, and I think all the people among the teams to whom I have been speaking are very happy. I was even told it would have been a mistake not to come. Again, you speak to those people. That is what I have been told by most of the team principals here.
"Unfortunately I did not see so many of those quotes in the media. But I respect the media, I respect what they write, but it is not what I have seen and what I was told by a lot of people to whom I have been talking."
Todt thought it important that the FIA dealt only with the facts of the ongoing situation - as he drew short of commenting on the death of a protestor last night.
"I cannot comment on something where I do not have all the details, and I do not have all the details. So it would be completely [wrong] on my side."
However, he said that it was only correct that protests were allowed to take place - as they were part of a country's democratic process.
"In any democratic country, protests are allowed. It allows people who want to protest to give their voice – and it happens all over the world. There are some protests in our county where we live, and sometimes we don't feel comfortable to go – because there can be some protests.
"What I have seen so far, is a good security control on the roads. And you know, very often, protest does mean damaging and hurting people – it is one possibility of expressing yourself.
"What is important is to be accurate and to assess properly what is happening. Yesterday, if you look at the media, some are talking about 4,000 people [at the protest], some had 10,000 people. So again, what I was told. I was not there, I did not count the people and I was told by official sources that it was 4,000 people protesting quite quietly, and only three people were slightly hurt out of that. And that is something you can avoid."
He added: "If you go to any football field, if you have a protest you will have a minimum of three people who can be hurt. I don't want to take any kind of example – but it has happened in Britain, in Germany, in France, all over the world. It is something that can happen, but it does not mean we have to stop sport moving along.
"When you talk to people about the sport, they are very happy and very excited about what is happening. Again talking to people who facilitate that – the marshals: they are delighted and very happy. And for me it is a very good message from the sport."