The Force India team was left baffled after no images of their cars were shown in the hour-long TV coverage of the qualifying session for Bahrain Grand Prix.
The team claimed that they were ‘punished with a TV blackout’, The Sun reports. However, the Formula One manager, whose company was responsible for the live pictures, dismissed claims that it was a ‘vendetta’ against the Silverstone-based Force India team.
Earlier, the team had reportedly pulled out of the second practice run on the formula one circuit, to give their mechanics time to travel to their hotel after four members were caught up in a petrol bomb attack by protesters, earlier in the week.
Rebuffing the accusations, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said that the reason of their TV-no show may perhaps have been due to legal reasons that prohibit advertising hard liquor in Bahrain, which is a dry country, and their cars contained a whiskey brand advertised on the car’s body.
“It could be technical but I suspect it 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,” he reasoned.
Following his comments, McLaren and Sauber both reportedly removed alcoholic brands from their cars for this race and will do so later again in the season in Abu Dhabi.
Bernie further added that he spoke to his people and “they were more or less concentrating on who was going to be on pole, rather than somebody going to be 10th."
The Force India team has already had a troubled week with two members of their team flying back to the UK on Thursday, as they did not feel safe on the troubled island. The team, which is run by deputy principal Bob Fernley in the absence of Indian owner Vijay Mallya, refused to make any comments.