When Martin Brundle took to the grid this morning for his inaugural grid-walk of 2010, the former driver warned viewers that there would be very few drivers lurking about. Brundle went on to explain that in a strange decision by the powers-that-be, the physiotherapists who look after the drivers have had their access passes revoked. In protest at not having these key people with them on the grid, the drivers all agreed to leave the track and return to their respective garages once they had parked their cars up. And indeed, the grid was looking notably driver-free. Of the current grid of pilots, Brundle only managed to catch a quick word with Fernando Alonso.
The drivers are insisting that they need their physios on the grid with them to ensure they are in perfect physical condition prior to starting the grand prix. In the past, the start/finish line has always been a flurry of people, including those bystanders handing their drivers fluids, towels and other paraphernalia that goes with their jobs.
According to a leading driver who has spoken to Autosport but wishes to remain anonymous, the drivers are angry at not being allowed to have their physios with them and have stated that the protest will continue at the next race in Australia if the passes are not re-issued.
Bernie Ecclestone has retorted by saying that he believes the grid is too busy, filled with too many unnecessary people. Ecclestone has told the drivers that if they want extra people on the grid, they need to organise the passes with their teams. However, with strict controls on how many passes are handed out, they are in very short supply.
Martin Brundle summed it up quite well while commentating his wander through the cars, saying that the grid is usually a hive of activity, with celebrities and stars mixing with drivers and team staff. Alas, the Bahrain grid was just lightly-littered with dignitaries and ex-champions, having just completed their own parade to celebrate 60 years of the World Championship.