Force India silent as Ecclestone justifies blackout

Sun, 22 April 2012, 08:35

Apr.22 (GMM) Force India is remaining publicly silent after its cars were excluded from television coverage of qualifying in Bahrain.

Paul di Resta raced into the decisive Q3 segment but, justifying the apparent black-out, Bernie Ecclestone said “nobody cares” about the cars that are not in the running for pole.

Rumours are intensifying that Force India was maliciously excluded from the sport’s ‘world feed’ – controlled by Ecclestone’s Formula One Management – because the Silverstone based team sat out a practice session over staff’s safety fears.

The F1 chief executive told reporters: “I suspect it (the blackout) 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. The TV could not show that,” said Ecclestone.

Force India’s deputy team boss Bob Fernley, in charge this weekend in Vijay Mallya’s absence, would not comment.

Indeed, McLaren and Sauber are not running their usual alcohol sponsors this weekend, but Red Bull was shown on television throughout the Bahrain grand prix weekend so far with its Singha beer brand signage.

And Force India’s whisky sponsor Whyte and Mackay was seen on the world feed in Bahrain in Friday morning practice, before the team decided to sit out the second session.

Meanwhile, authoritative media sources have been briefed to the effect that Force India’s current livery was approved well in advance of this weekend’s race.

A team insider told the Guardian: “Everyone knows what happened. Bernie is giving Force India a slap on the wrist for missing Friday’s second practice session.”

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