Former grand prix winner and F1 team owner Gerhard Berger has backed Bahrain’s Grand Prix, blaming the media for overstating the island Kingdom’s problems.
As protests and clashes took place outside the Sakhir circuit, the former Ferrari and McLaren driver strolled the pitlane and paddock and said Formula 1 can legitimately continue to host the race in Bahrain.
“I also came a couple of months ago and went all around the city,” the Austrian told Spain’s El Pais newspaper, “and I didn’t see any fighting or anything resembling it — except for a young couple making some noise.”
“I think the press has overstated everything, but the reality is that nothing happened last year and nothing is happening this time,” Berger insisted.
“If you believe what you read then Formula 1 is motivating a war, but this is not a country at war. It is a place where there are some problems, but if we stop coming here then we will have to stop going to China and other countries like that as well.”
In his typically blunt manner, Bernie Ecclestone admitted a similar view on Saturday, jokingly saying the Bahrain government is “really stupid” to host a race and give protesters “a platform”.
Bahrain’s crown prince, however, said he is not offended.
“It’s Bernie being Bernie,” said prince Salman bin Hamad Isa Al Khalifa. “I love Bernie and his quotes. I think it’s funny. I can’t be thankful enough for his support.” (GMM)