Journalists slam FIA, Todt, over Bahrain handling image

A group of British journalists are highly critical of Jean Todt’s leadership during the saga leading up to the cancellation of the Bahrain grand prix.

When the unrest in the island Kingdom first began, FIA president Todt told reporters during a trip to Ireland that he would not “overreact”, insisting that “at the moment there is no reason to have unnecessary concern”.

But as the peaceful protesters then clashed more violently with Bahrain’s security forces, raising strong calls for the season opener to be called off, the FIA and Todt went silent.

Finally, as the Bahrain royal family called off the race late on Monday, the FIA issued a three paragraph statement confirming that it “supports the decision”.

The statement also made clear that it will be the sport’s Paris based federation that decides if the race can be held later in 2011.

A group of British journalists are openly unimpressed.

Daily Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary described the situation as a “complete lack of direction from the sport’s governing body”.

Via Twitter, The Times’ Kevin Eason agreed: “I still say the FIA’s lack of leadership has been astounding. Where is Max (Mosley) when you need him?”

The Mirror’s Byron Young described the official FIA statement as “late” and “irrelevant”.

Eason agreed: “A press release from the FIA arrives. They are alive!”

Ian Parkes, who covers formula one for the Press Association, tweeted when he received the statement: “The FIA finally speaks.”

Young, describing the FIA as “worse than useless” throughout the Bahrain affair, continued: “You can criticise Max Mosley for many things, and he’d take them on the chin, but he was a good leader.

“Todt has been Mr Invisible so far.”

Cary, agreeing that the “silence from Paris has been deafening” in recent days, offered one possible explanation for Todt’s reluctance.

He said the Frenchman’s “relationship with Bahrain is a particularly sensitive one. The Bahrain royal family has close ties to FIA president Jean Todt”.

Cary added that the Bahrain king’s second son is a member of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council “and played a key role in Todt’s election in 2008″.

Meanwhile, Bahrain’s crown prince is “a shareholder in Nicolas Todt’s – Jean Todt’s son’s – (GP2) team”, he reported.