Sakhir: Force India deputy team principal Robert Fernley believes Sunday’s race will prove to be a catalyst for the healing process in Bahrain. Fernley spoke exclusively to IBNlive.com just before the start of Saturday's qualifying session.
What is your assessment of the situation in Bahrain now, especially considering the problems some of your team members faced on Wednesday?
What we encountered was an unfortunate but isolated incident. Overall, the situation in Bahrain is very good. I think we should give a great deal of credit to Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt for their vision and strength of character, and also to the Bahrain authorities for leaving themselves open for the world press.
Force India deputy team principal Robert Fernley believes Sunday's race will prove to be a catalyst for the healing process in Bahrain.
You spoke yesterday about the destabilization of the emotional element. Can you please elaborate? What is the situation now, since the protests and clashes have gone up?
I don't think the protests have intensified. Everything is reasonably normal. There were one or two protests that have happened in a totally transparent way. Regarding the team, when we talk about emotional destabilization, we had an incident on Wednesday night and we have got 60 people in the team, of course there are going to be elements that raise concerns. That's why you need to ensure that the team is comfortable and gets stabilized.
In hindsight, seeing what has happened in the past few days, do you think the teams should have taken a stand similar to last year's?
Formula One has come here, against the odds, against a lot of media hype and has done a jolly good job of putting up a sporting event which hopefully will be the catalyst for the healing process of Bahrain. This is something Formula One should be quite proud of.
Hasn't this race become a trigger or a rallying point for anti-government protests. Hasn't politics overshadowed sport?
I think the media have gone a long way in making politics overshadow sport. The event shows the openness and the elements moving to an open society in Bahrain. I don't see the race as a trigger. Whatever is happening is a part of an open process.
Do you think it’s right that the race is taking place this year?
Absolutely. Force India had an unfortunate incident. We probably had the most difficult experience. But even with our experience, I am absolutely categorical that it's a good decision. Praise should go to Bernie Ecclestone, Jean Todt and equally to the Bahrain authorities.