Posted on March 28, 2012
Darren Heath

Today at a lunch at the RAC Club in London the organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix met with Bernie Ecclestone, several leading F1 team principals and journalists to discuss the forthcoming Bahrain Grand Prix.

The message from Bahrain and from the F1 teams was clear: the race is on, despite continuing flare ups of protest in the country and rumours of impending cancellation which have surfaced from time to time during the first two Grands Prix of the season. Many of the people who work in the sport have privately expressed concern about the race taking place.

The Bahrainis however believe that the country is on the road to change and that “the Grand Prix has the power and the potential to be a force for good” meanwhile Ecclestone says he is happy for the sport to be used to play a supportive role in that message.

Among those representing Bahrain were Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa of the ruling family and Zayed al Zayani, who is responsible for the race. F1 was represented by Ecclestone, Sir Frank Williams, McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh, Red Bull boss Christian Horner, Mercedes AMG CEO Nick Fry, Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery as well as the FIA’s Communications Director Norman Howell.

The Grand Prix had to be cancelled last year last year after an outbreak of violent protest in February 2011 which led to many deaths and thousands of arrests. 29 largely Shia staff were laid off by the circuit, 25 of whom have since returned to their work, according to Zayed.

A commission of enquiry report issued last November found evidence of human rights abuses and police brutality in dealing with the protests.

The Grand Prix is due to take place in three weeks, following the Chinese Grand Prix and the Baharinis wanted to get the message across today that the security situation is back to normal and that teams, media and fans can be reassured that the event will pass safely and that despite reports of continuing outbreaks of violence, there will be no need for additional security.

“It (the race) will take place and I’m sure it’ll happen without any problems,” Ecclestone told me. “I don’t need any personal security but I’m sure whatever is necessary will be looked after. People that are trying to demonstrate are going to use anything to do with F1. If they did it would be silly because it shows to the rest of the world.

As for whether he is comfortable for F1 to be used as a “force for good” and an symbol of reconciliation, Ecclestone said, “We’d be happy to do whatever. I don’t see that we can help much but we’re there, we have confidence in Bahrain. The good thing about Bahrain is that it’s more democratic than most places. The people there are allowed to speak what they want and they can protest what they want to.”

“F1 is a sport at the end of the day and we’ve always enjoyed racing in Bahrain,” said Christian Horner. “It’s on the calendar and the FIA and promoters deem it right to hold a race in Bahrain so we will be happy to be there and race.

“We’ve had assurances from the FIA that they are happy (about security arrangements). When you enter the championship, you enter to compete in all the races and we’ll look forward to racing in Bahrain.”

Shaikh Salman and Zayed al Zayani both underlined the economic importance of the event to Bahrain. They said that economic analysts put the economic benefit of the race at $220 million annually to the country and its cancellation last year, they said, had a significant impact on local businesses.

“We’re very excited,” said Shaikh Salman, the CEO of the circuit. “The Grand Prix ties us to the world. Bahrain is such a small country and we get a chance to play on a global scale. And that small country really punches above its weight during that time. As Bahrainis that’s what makes us proud. The Grand Prix plays a huge part in Bahrain, the economic impact everyone benefits from, the taxi drivers, hotels and so on.

“The Grand Prix is a huge event and security measures are part of that. We’ve shown them what we’ve done every year and it hasn’t changed that much.

“We have moved on from what happened and the unfortunate incidents of last year. The Grand Prix coming back says that.”

* You can hear more on this story on the JA on F1 podcast, which will be live on Soundcloud and Itunes later this evening.

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F1 bosses in show of support for Bahrain GP
90 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: Sebee
        Date: March 28th, 2012 @ 5:31 pm 

    I can’t wait for this race to just go ahead so we can get back to talking about something else.

    Something else used to be how bad the Tilke tracks usually are, but it seems this DRS may have solved that complaint.

    [Reply]

    Wayne Reply:

    Always happy to chime in about the probable back room agreement between Tilke’s company and Bernie. Why else woudl this guy keep getting the contract to design awful tracks?

    Just as happy to comment on DRS, which continues to cast a long shadow over F1′s sporting integrity and is depriving us of wheel to wheel dices in the wet, making the art of the overtake obsolete, predictable and without excitment. There are obviously exceptions but by in large if a driver misses the drs zone you can go watch something else until they zone comes back around again. There is very little incentive to use KERS and tallent to try and overtake anywhere else. I understand that it will not change as it appeals to the salivating masses of casual watchers (i.e. THE MONEY) who think that the crashes are best bits and are easily fooled into thinking that a DRS overtake is ‘cool’ rather than simply the prescribed output of a process.

    [Reply]

    Sebee Reply:

    Volume! That’s right, we make up for lack of quality with good old fashioned volume. F1 with DRS is no different.

    With only 1/2 the races being live on BBC, and with DRS providing so much move volume of passes per race, a fan watching the 10 live races only still gets their pre-DRS dose of passes with 1/2 the TV time! You have to look at the bright side Wayne – always.

    But seriously, there have been good passes. I think when you look at the memorable passes in pre-DRS era and now overall seasonal total is probably the same. Meaning – you can count the total memorable passes each season on your fingers with ease.

    [Reply]

    Wayne Reply:

    Agreed, there are still memorable passes.

    Mitchel Reply:

    Not all Tilke tracks are bad: Malaysia, China and Turkey are/were all excellent high-speed circuits- and the drivers all like/liked them.

    Basically if Tilke designed Monaco or Suzuka he’d still get absolutely slated!

    [Reply]

    Sebee Reply:

    I can’t argue with you that he gets the blame for lack of action. And it’s not really his fault.

    Whatever the secret formula is at Spa, Suzuka, Imola, Interlagos – there is something about them that found their way to our hearts. Of course the new tracks are impressive in their achievements of design, engineering, use of materials. But in a way, they are like that new supermodel girlfriend one may have – sure, she’s easy on the eyes, but you always keep that spacial place in your heart for your first love from school days. And that perhaps is what Tilke can’t capture in his tracks – the history, the nostalgia, the fact that those old tracks were touched by legends we still talk about today where we remember them doing amazing things. Perhaps in 20 years that’s how future generations of fans will feel about the new tracks.

    Personally I feel nothing when you say Malaysia, China or Turkey to me. I certainly feel something when you say Spa, Imola, Suzuka, Monaco. Could be because I went to those and not the first three as well. But interesting thing is – I had the urge, the need to go there. I have no urge or need to go to Malaysia or China to see the GP. Why? I can’t explain. I just don’t feel it’s worth it. I feel like the new tracks are better on TV as Max Mosley used to say.

    I can’t comment fully on what Tilke’s work looks like in real life – I have been to 15GPs at 9 venues – none of them were Tilke tracks for some strange reason. Not intentional or because I hate his work, just happened that way.

    [Reply]


  2.   2. Posted By: goferet
        Date: March 28th, 2012 @ 5:32 pm 

    From this, it appears the protests in Bahrain didn’t succeed and if the Grand Prix does happen, it will mean the demonstrations in Bahrain are well and truly over which will be sad for the people for they would have failed to achieve their goal of regime change at least for the right to introduce communism.

    R.I.P to the people that lost their lives, it really sucks BIG TIME to loose your life in vain when nothing much changes.

    So this race brings in 220 million to the coffers of the ruling political class, that’s a lot of dosh right there no wonder everybody was up in arms for not many were getting a slice of the pie (for taxi drivers to hotels isn’t everyone)

    Now what the government should do this year (apart from the changes they have already made) is give out 40% of the tickets free of charge to the local population especially those that could only afford to attend Camel races.

    Now, now, now… the Bahrain Grand Prix better be a cracker of a race matter of fact it should better be one of the top 3 exciting races of 2012 if not, all this back & forth + emotional rollercaster we have been through may just seem like a bloody waste of bloody time.

    P.s.

    Sure maybe Bernie doesn’t need personal security while over there in Bahrain but he most certainly needs an army when over here in the UK.

    We love that selfless saint sooooo much.

    [Reply]

    Erik Reply:

    +1

    F1 is a sign of peace and prosperity for Bahrain, so that’s the political spin the elite went with to justify themselves?.. I am most certain that the majority of the population (who could never in their lives afford to attend the race) will disagree.

    So Bernie is happy to ally himself with a tyrannical government hey? No surprise there right, after all everyone’s getting paid.

    Sorry for the poor in Bahrain, hopefully one day you will be heard.

    [Reply]

    @Damien_Marquez (GrandPrixAdvisor) Reply:

    Without wanting to enter the political debate (I insist on this point – very important), try to put yourself in the shoes of the people who are supporting the current rulers. They are being attacked on all front by a foreign mob who only knows what happens in Bahrain via some very one-sided media outlets.

    Since when do we approve of people trying to attempt a coup? (That is how I read the situation there.) Is it because they brand themselves as a ‘human right activists’ in the social media sphere that we should support their efforts? Or are they just in political opposition at the moment?

    Before taking the moral high ground, look at how your country (whichever one that is) probably silences political activism also known as anti-globalisation protests.

    No one has really given us a true picture of what’s going on there except someone called Nelson, an expat living in Bahrain, who commented on this subject here a few months ago.

    [Reply]

    @Damien_Marquez (GrandPrixAdvisor) Reply:

    PS: I am not supporting the current regime, nor am I supporting the uprising.
    I just wanted to offer the start of a deeper reflection on what’s going on before making rushed judgements.

    [Reply]

    AuraF1 Reply:

    The question of human rights would be settled if Bahrain had invited human rights watch or amnesty international back to view progress.

    The fact that the two bodies that the international community use to judge human rights records described Bahrain as shocking and in crisis and were not called upon to review the improvements speaks volumes.

    The bahrainis love to say it’s all a media ploy. But their pronouncements are as much propaganda as well.

    Has life changed in Bahrain? Perhaps – but since the only ones being allowed to assess this are the ruling Bahraini elite how impartial is that assessment.

    Remember Syria currently claims it’s slaughter of children is a media fabrication and they are capable of monitoring their own human rights record. Generally we don’t give too much credence to dictatorships PR firms. Maybe Bahrain won’t present any problems at all – I just think everyone would have been more comfortable had just one human rights organisation been allowed to reassess. Not a lunch at the RAC club for bahrainis and teams often part owned by bahrainis.

    Wayne Reply:

    No we don’t have the first clue what is really happening on the ground in this country. However, F1 is more and more about money and ‘sports entertainment’ – it’s more akin to a global conglomerate than a ‘sport’ nowadays. The headline for this article should have read:

    ‘F1 bosses in show of support for Bahrain revenues’.

    Also your classification of coup is very linear. There is a marked difference between a people trying to institute change in a country with a democraticaly elected government and one with heriditary or military rule. One would assume that if a people have valid, open and fair mechanisms to remove a goverment from power they would not turn to aggressive protests. For any people, the control of the collective destiny of a country is important both spiritually and morally. We often take these liberties for granted.

    The GP is alos a target because it was built as one prince’s personal project and not by popular mandate. In the UK, the government will not plough money into a sport as rich and opulent as F1 as they know that if they did and then closed a hospital the following week there would be terminal outcry. In Bahrain, they can do as they please and the people have to live with it.

    [Reply]

    Wayne Reply:

    You will note that the majority of new F1 tracks have opened in the East and without financial issues becasue one man can decide to earmark $200 million and the general public do not have a say i.e. Bahrain, China, Dubai.

    In the west the British GP has had to fight for survival, the French GP is lost, Spain is about to loose a GP, SPA will be forced to alternate (which is a terrible shame), USA is off and on again every year etc…. Why? Because these governments are accountable to their people, therefore the GPs have to be self sustainable and not bankrolled by government using tax payers’ money that might best be spent of health and social care.

    @Damien_Marquez (GrandPrixAdvisor) Reply:

    The broad definition of a coup is the sudden, illegal deposition of a government according to Wikipedia.
    As a constitutional monarchy, I try to imagine what it would be like in the UK or Australia to have people in the streets asking for the departure of the Royal Family so as to replace it with total democracy, in a republic.

    I do not know why Shiites and Sunnis are in disagreement, other than the fact the minority of one branch of Islam (Sunni) in the country rules over the majority from the other branch of Islam (Shi’ites); whilst the Sunni Islam is biggest branch of Islam in the Muslim world (if I understand it correctly).

    The unification theme seems a good starting point. Is it sincere? Who knows. Does this fit with a purpose of collective destiny? Probably, it’s worth having a go at it.

    A country where about half of the population is foreign indicates to me it is not such a bad place, otherwise migrants would choose to live in another country.

    It is undeniable there have been deaths by the government forces. What happens to the perpetrators of these crimes, time will tell.

    Is this a reason for asphyxiating the local economy by suppressing the GP? In my opinion, I would say no. The economic priorities of a non-western nation are very different to that of the UK, France or the US.

    I just try to keep an open mind about the consequences cancelling the race may have on the country.

    mvi Reply:

    Well, Damien, the BICI Report that came out Nov 23/2011 (Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry) certainly went a long distance in giving the true picture. Looks like you have not read it yet.

    http://files.bici.org.bh/BICIreportEN.pdf

    [Reply]

    @Damien_Marquez (GrandPrixAdvisor) Reply:

    A very candid report with some interesting allegations there, especially the ones about Iran and the media.

    It would be interesting to know how the recommendations are being followed up. The problem might be that no one is on the ground to actually do that.

    Thanks for sharing this link.

    Jo Torrent Reply:

    Damien,

    You are nowhere near what is occuring there. No coup d’état has been attempted there.

    All what is occuring is that the majority shiite population wants to have its word on what is going on in their country. They want something like DEMOCRACY.

    Instead, they’ve been beaten, jailed, tortured, fired from their jobs and sometimes killed.

    I know that you got news that it’s not the way it has been described in the news, but the easiest way to see the truth is to read reports by the most reliable non governmental organisations such as human rights watch.

    I think that it is obvious for every human being that it is not logical for a minority to rule a majority. Why should it be logical in Bahrain ?

    [Reply]

    @Damien_Marquez (GrandPrixAdvisor.com) Reply:

    Fair point – Thanks Jo.

    The only reason why I sometimes question general wisdom is when there are paradoxal factors involved, and a lot of natural resources at stake.

    The people in the Western world aren’t necessarily critical enough about the news they receive.


  3.   3. Posted By: Le Gazman
        Date: March 28th, 2012 @ 6:19 pm 

    Doctors have been jailed for treating injured protestors, for goodness sake. This is not a regime F1 should be legitimising by holding a race there.

    I don’t think I will be watching the race if it goes ahead.

    #BoycottBahrainF1

    [Reply]

    Erik Reply:

    Im thinking the same thing.

    Im a die hard fan but this is disgusting! So they all got on a podium and showed a united front to the world’s media. Except there was one missing. The Bahraini people.

    Gross

    [Reply]

    Mike from Medellin, Colombia Reply:

    Seems that there some have a special standard that is only applied to Middle Eastern countries…

    “Doctors have been jailed for treating injured protestors, for goodness sake”

    Bradley Manning was jailed for revealing the truth about illegal activity and human rights abuses.

    I guess that you won’t be tuning into this year’s US grand prix then.

    [Reply]

    Jodum Reply:

    Um, Bradley manning has been jailed and will be tried for releasing classified information. That’s illegal regardless of content

    [Reply]

    Jodum Reply:

    To stay on topic, no country is perfect so where f1 races shouldn’t be based on public opinion of the regimes running the countries hosting races. If they feel confident that staff and fans can attend the race safely, they should go ahead and get it over with

    Mike from Medellin, Colombia Reply:

    Staying on topic again. This is regarding the treatment of dissidents.

    There is a difference between what the authorities can do under the law (often under newly drafted open ended legislation) and what is humane.

    I’m sure that the Bahraini authorities will argue that they have acted legally, but have they acted humanely?

    The same goes with Bradley Manning – prolonged isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity etc is not human treatment. This is not the way to treat one’s own citizens.

    There is gross hypocrisy in that there is one set of standards for those in the Middle East and another for those elsewhere. There are others who treat dissenters in the same abusive way.


  4.   4. Posted By: SD
        Date: March 28th, 2012 @ 6:54 pm 

    F1 should be ashamed of itself if this race goes ahead, democracy and civil liberties are more important than a motor race and as much as I love the sport it’s clear that right now it is not suitable to hold a Grand Prix there.

    If the teams and drivers have any moral values they should stand up to Bernie and refuse to go there and stop this farce from going ahead. The fallout from them doing that will be far less than the hammering F1′s reputation is going to take by going to Bahrain.

    [Reply]

    Liam in Sydney Reply:

    So you will also turn off the next GP from China? Where does you sense of morality lie in regards to racing in China, or India, or Russia? You may need a reality check.

    [Reply]

    AuraF1 Reply:

    None of these races is used as a political act though. Yes these countries have shocking human rights records – that’s not the issue. The issue is turning F1 or any sport into a direct act of support for a political ruling class in a time of unrest.

    If china had asked to host F1 during the Tianamen square massacre to show that china was united and the protest was a non-event I expect you’d get the same sort of disgust.

    It may sound an odd distinction but there is a difference between going to a country with poor rights records and being used specifically as an emblem of one sides political needs.

    [Reply]

    SD Reply:

    My thoughts exactly. Whilst I don’t agree with the human rights records of China and India, they have always hosted their Grands Prix as Grands Prix, not as a political statement to show that everyone is happy in their country.

    Andy H Reply:

    I agree. The treatment of the poor in India is a big issue. Is Russia a democracy? As for China, shouldnt be on the calender.
    At least in Russia and India one can see democracy is on the way.
    As for Bahrain, it shows just how crass Bernie will be when he has the teams by the gonads, due to the concorde “agreement”. Its all about money and blowing up the arse of the rich and powerful, all very distasteful.
    I sincerly hope a peaceful protest disrupts the Greedy Mans GP. However, the ruling authorities will meet any peaceful protest with violence and bingo its riot time. How much would the rulers stock rise if they allowed a peaceful democratic protest?? Dream on………….

    [Reply]

    zombie Reply:

    [mod] India has been a democracy ever since her inception! Hiphenation of India-China is like comparing oranges and watermelons! India’s problem with a class divide is similar to that of Brazil. Russia is ruled by former KGB thugs turned oligarchs. China has a dismal records in human rights and is lightyears away from democracy!

    Andy H Reply:

    Hiphenation of India-China
    Eh?


  5.   5. Posted By: Dudley
        Date: March 28th, 2012 @ 7:08 pm 

    They’re welcome for it to go ahead.

    But I won’t be watching. If everyone did that they’d get the message.

    [Reply]


  6.   6. Posted By: olivier
        Date: March 28th, 2012 @ 7:23 pm 

    Good for you Bernie. I am not watching.

    [Reply]

    Erik Reply:

    +1!!!

    [Reply]


  7.   7. Posted By: madmax
        Date: March 28th, 2012 @ 8:04 pm 

    Aren’t we forgetting the most important thing here,

    The Bahrain race track is cr*p!

    Just to be clear I was obviously only joking about it being the most important thing as clearly Bernie getting his money is.

    [Reply]


  8.   8. Posted By: Mike from Medellin, Colombia
        Date: March 28th, 2012 @ 8:06 pm 

    What about boycotting grands prix that take place in countries that support torture aka enhanced interrogation techniques and extraordinary rendition? ….

    [Reply]


  9.   9. Posted By: franed
        Date: March 28th, 2012 @ 8:24 pm 

    Strange, was that same guy who said only two days ago that they could not guarantee safety at Bahrain?

    One has to wonder if the the FIA and officials declaring themselves happy with the security arrangements has anything to do with real data or merely assurances given during a big dinner.

    It seems that Bernie at al, are very keen to pass the responsibility on to the officials so that they can wash their hands of it if anything does happen.

    There is still seems to be opposition to the race taking place but apart from the BBC’s Hard Talk programme it is not getting much press.

    [Reply]


  10.   10. Posted By: daphne
        Date: March 28th, 2012 @ 8:49 pm 

    Peer pressure?

    [Reply]


  11.   11. Posted By: Richard D
        Date: March 28th, 2012 @ 9:18 pm 

    Even without the rebellion/ uprising or whatever you want to call it, I don’t think F1 has a place in Bahrain! A boring circuit stuck in the desert with no fan base.

    [Reply]

    Erik Reply:

    Oh it has a fan base, clearly. It’s that handful of elitist sheiks and sultans next to Bernie in the press conference.. That’s about it. Disappointed in the F1 teams on this – surely if any of them standing there were sensitive to what the general public opinion was, it would be them. Their sponsors are marketing directly at us after all.

    This is seriously despicable. How will this look to the world in 5 years time? What does this say about F1?

    [Reply]

    Baghetti Reply:

    Well, that’s what happens if you give the major teams some stock in F1 rights: they as well become parties that have a lot of money-interest for the race to take place, and if the major teams are showing up then any boycot by one or more minor teams would only become a minor news item… Or, just another smart ‘divide et impera’ move by Mr. E!

    [Reply]


  12.   12. Posted By: Seb
        Date: March 28th, 2012 @ 9:33 pm 

    I doubt that I will continue to watch the sport, much less maintain an avid interest in it, if the race were to go ahead. Quite disgraceful, in many respects, much less the disregard for the safety of F1 personnel, for it to be going ahead. I have no further need to contribute to such a decrepit sport, my enjoyment and attachment to it having been worn considerably by recent developments.

    [Reply]


  13.   13. Posted By: Peter B
        Date: March 28th, 2012 @ 10:06 pm 

    Its not the bosses at risk, its the mechanics and the support people who dont matter to Bernie (my opionion of whom would get moderated)

    Who is going to keep them secure and/or compensate them for any “incidents”?

    [Reply]


  14.   14. Posted By: Charlie
        Date: March 28th, 2012 @ 10:20 pm 

    James,
    Do you have an opinion about all this that you feel able to share?

    It seems to me the opinions we do hear (pro and con) come from voices with a vested interest and so not without their own potential bias.

    Possibly a respected commentator, such as yourself, will have seen enough to have an informed view free such biases.

    [Reply]

    Erik Reply:

    I have a reply to that. Other websites comment on the negative aspects of holding the race there too, not just when there’s a pro press statement about holding the race. For instance the rebel group released a public letter to the FIA a few weeks back, urging them to reconsider holding the race. I didn’t see that story on this site..

    James, the gauntlet has been laid down :o )

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    I’ve reflected both sides of the story

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    That’s not fair. JA is dependent upon the good will of the F1 establishment to get the access to the people and places that permit him to provide for himself and his family. Assuming he was against the GP in Barain and stated so publicly he would be attacking the integrity of those who make the decisions and as JA is an opinion leader in the F1 world his access all areas passes would be quickly revoked.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    That is not true. It really doesn’t work like that, whatever you might think

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    My apologies if my comment in any way seemed to be getting at you.

    There was no intended sub-text to my question. Simply ‘is this GP a good or bad thing?’ and my assumption that you may be in a better position than most to have a balanced opinion.
    I understand you may not feel happy to voice your personal thoughts, hence the way I asked.

    Davexxx Reply:

    Yes I’d like to back James up on this. I’ve asked him before and he has given his personal views on the subject, which I appreciate. (And if you missed them then you need to pay better attention to his website and things said there!!) ;-)


  15.   15. Posted By: alexbookoo
        Date: March 28th, 2012 @ 10:40 pm 

    “The good thing about Bahrain is that it’s more democratic than most places. The people there are allowed to speak what they want and they can protest what they want to” – Bernie Ecclestone.

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

    [Reply]

    Craig in Manila Reply:

    +1

    First question that popped into my head was : Which “most places” is he referring to ?

    [Reply]

    Andy H Reply:

    The man is everything thats is wrong with the human race.

    [Reply]

    azac21 Reply:

    If Greece only had a penny for every time a politician, businessman, financier was using the word “democracy” to promote its personal interests around the world…. for start it would not be in debt right now and second it would be able to host its won F1 GP.

    [Reply]


  16.   16. Posted By: Bryan
        Date: March 28th, 2012 @ 10:57 pm 

    And we happily go to China every year then, so thats ok is it????? anyone ever heard of Tibet and the appalling things they have been doing there for the last 50 odd years!!

    [Reply]


  17.   17. Posted By: Andy
        Date: March 29th, 2012 @ 12:07 am 

    I was wondering, if Bahrain cancels the grand Prix they get fined. If FIA/FOM cancels it what happens?

    [Reply]

    abashrawi Reply:

    They keep the money, and say they cancelled it on security reasons as per the contract!

    [Reply]


  18.   18. Posted By: Craig in Manila
        Date: March 29th, 2012 @ 2:05 am 

    Am not willing to comment on the politics of it as I’m no expert but I’m confused as to how the F1 management can (apparently) just ignore the position of the British Foreign Office. They have clearly advised against all non-essential travel as well as saying that any UK nationals already in Bahrain should be avoiding any large gatherings or crowds.

    One wonders how the Brit-based employees (teams, media, etc etc) feel about going to a Country when their own Government is saying that it aint safe to do so.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Actually that’s not true. The British ambassador in Bahrain says the situation is not dangerous and HM Government supports the race going ahead

    [Reply]

    Craig @ Manila Reply:

    Ooops, you are (of course) correct JA. Looks like the travel warning that was loaded in mid Feb was downgraded sometime since then.

    Amongst other things, the HM Govt website now only says that westerners should avoid crowds and that there is a general threat of terrorism.

    [Reply]

    Davexxx Reply:

    Oops better cancel my trip to London then ;-(


  19.   19. Posted By: jay jacob
        Date: March 29th, 2012 @ 3:17 am 

    For those ‘couch potato’ commentators out there, please don’t comment about what’s happening in Bahrain unless you’ve been there physically and seen the situation with your own eyeballs.

    To be clear, i’m not a Bahraini nor do i support either political side in Bahrain.

    People complain about safety & security in Bahrain, but what would you say about the rioting in London last year? People were mugged, beaten and hospitalised by rioters who have no political agenda and by far are economically better off than half of the global population. As a non-British resident, i would be more scared to go to London for fear of safety because you don’t know when the locals might decide to go berzerk.

    So, why complain about Bahrain? Have you been there lately? Can you feel that your life is at threat?

    The only time I wouldn’t watch F1 is if Adolf Hitler was still alive and there was a race in Germany. But please people, don’t equate the current situation in Bahrain as if Hitler was running the country. FOM, FIA and the F1 Teams would not go there if they are not confident, like last year.

    [Reply]

    meltwaterfalls Reply:

    Not sure anyone apart from you has mentioned Bahrain being like Nazi era Germany, well done for proving Godwin’s law.

    Whilst safety may be an issue for the teams attending, I think most comments here have stressed that the GP itself is being used as a political weapon, as it is very much associated with the Bahraini rulers. It seems fairly legitimate to make a moral judgement on that, even if your knowledge of security in Manama isn’t particularly good, especially as the majority of commentators here will be ‘consuming’ this GP as “couch potatoes” rather than attending.

    [Reply]

    Davexxx Reply:

    You missed Jay Jacob’s point entirely, misread or misunderstood what he said, and in doing so proved his point, which is a good one.

    [Reply]

    meltwaterfalls Reply:

    Not really sure how I missed the point there.

    The point seemed to be we can’t have an opinion on the Bahrain GP going ahead unless we know the situation on the ground in Bahrain.

    I said we consume it at a distance, and make a judgement from a distance.

    Sorry if I did misunderstand that, but I’m still struggling to see any other way of interpreting it.

    Davexxx Reply:

    Jay Jacob said:-
    “But please people, don’t equate the current situation in Bahrain as if Hitler was running the country”
    Note the word “DON’T” – meaning he is definitely NOT suggesting Bahrain is in any way in any association with Hitler control!

    meltwaterfalls said:-
    “Not sure anyone apart from you has mentioned Bahrain being like Nazi era Germany”.

    Jay never DID mention ‘Bahrain being like Nazi era Germany’! meltwaterfalls did! Sound like total opposites to me.

    As for all the rest of it, I tend to agree that this F1 race doesn’t have to be the political focus many are making it to be – just accept it as ‘just another race’ (and I’ll skip all the arguments about Other Countries also having political or human-rights issues, blah blah, that have been talked about in depth here and elsewhere)

    meltwaterfalls Reply:

    OK, I get your view of that. My point was no one had equated it with Nazi era Germany, so it was a bit of a non sequitur.


  20.   20. Posted By: Tim
        Date: March 29th, 2012 @ 3:29 am 

    Bernie should really not be able to speak about the Arab Spring in such dismissive tones. He’s ignorant and he’s allowing his circus to be the first one to roll through Bahrain after its protests. It looks bad and crass because it is. Money makes the decisions nowadays.

    [Reply]


  21.   21. Posted By: Stuart Robinson
        Date: March 29th, 2012 @ 4:52 am 

    For James its probably better to say nothing at all – I will not be watching

    [Reply]


  22.   22. Posted By: Kay
        Date: March 29th, 2012 @ 7:49 am 

    Istanbul GP offers much better spectacle for racing than Borerain GP, not to mention this track here only exists to fill Bernie’s wallet.

    This track should be dropped and bring back Turkey!

    [Reply]


  23.   23. Posted By: abashrawi
        Date: March 29th, 2012 @ 8:05 am 

    If it is the security the major concern for everyone, I think it’s safe to say that this is pretty much covered. These protestors are the most peaceful I have ever seen or heard about, and the government will never use its brute force against foreigners. Protesters never use weapons of any kind including a constitutional monarchy that protects their freedom.

    However, is what F1 wants is to support this monarchy despite confirmed reports of sentencing doctors for treating peaceful protestors and an independent commission of enquiry invited by the king himself finding human rights abuses and police brutality in dealing with the protests. Do these bosses really want to support a government inviting armed forces from neighboring countries to shut down peaceful protestors with brute force just for money?

    I’m lost! I’ve been a formula 1 fan since the 90s and never thought I would come to this point.

    PS. Formula 1 has a good fan base in Bahrain, but they are not fortunate enough to be able to attend the expensive race. I’m from the region and able to confirm this.

    [Reply]

    abashrawi Reply:

    Correction: in the first paragraph “Protesters never use weapons of any kind including a constitutional monarchy that protects their freedom.” should read “Protesters never use weapons of any kind including knives, and all what they want is a constitutional monarchy that protects their freedom.”

    [Reply]

    Nick Lange Reply:

    Correction: in the first paragraph “Protesters never use weapons of any kind including a constitutional monarchy that protects their freedom” Should read “Protesters never use weapons of any kind including a constitutional monarchy that protects their freedom … Apart from the numerous fire bombs and other such projectiles which are launched at those trying to keep police.”

    The second paragraph should also read “After the leaders of the country invited independent reviews back to review the changes put in place, it has been agreed that the country is improving.”

    It is not about supporting this regime for the mistakes it made, but supporting the changes that it is putting in place. Everyone else seems to agree this including the Foreign Commonwealth Office whom has downgraded the threats of the country.

    If you are going to give personal opinions on the situation, please report them correctly. I believe that this issue is mostly down to people not looking into both sides of the story.

    [Reply]

    abashrawi Reply:

    Well, you are certainly entitled to have your view of things, and I do respect that. However, I can see military forces going from certain countries to Bahrain on a weekly bases (I see them live!).

    I don’t think this is the correct place to discuss that, I’m just saying F1 should stay away from politics and not support the government efforts especially when I believe they are doing it for the $$$.


  24.   24. Posted By: Mon Pen
        Date: March 29th, 2012 @ 8:13 am 

    This is becoming more politicised by the day. The fact that people are saying imthe F1 race is a force for stability is a red rag to a bull. And when you see Bernie saying “I will have no personal security” well we all know how seriously we should take his off the cuff comments, don’t we?

    [Reply]


  25.   25. Posted By: damonsmedley
        Date: March 29th, 2012 @ 9:12 am 

    The good thing about Bahrain is that it’s more democratic than most places. The people there are allowed to speak what they want and they can protest what they want to.

    Oh, Bernie…

    [Reply]


  26.   26. Posted By: Jeff Mickey
        Date: March 29th, 2012 @ 9:18 am 

    I will not watch the race. I will wait to see about the rest of the season.

    [Reply]


  27.   27. Posted By: AuraF1
        Date: March 29th, 2012 @ 9:21 am 

    The most interesting racing at Bahrain will be the engineers and journalists in the mid priced hotels a few miles out from the track dodging and weaving between street protests and tanks.

    I’m sure the F1 race will be quite relaxing and sedate after that.

    [Reply]

    David Reply:

    Brazil’s just as bad with safety

    [Reply]

    AuraF1 Reply:

    Not sure brazil has the population majority rioting in the streets up against a foreign armoured division. Although I know some engineers don’t love the drive into brazil – the main targets in brazil are the wealthy as its crime. In Bahrain, if protest erupts, the target is any westerner or anyone connected to f1. I’m sure any security expert will tell you there’s a huge difference between a high crime area and one engulfed in mass rioting.

    [Reply]


  28.   28. Posted By: Nick
        Date: March 29th, 2012 @ 10:23 am 

    Unless there’s a security risk, then I can’t see Bernie pulling the race for the moral high ground. However it’s not a good look when your host country’s military was only 12 months earlier shooting its own citizens protesting in public streets. But then again, where do you draw the line and risk setting yourself a dangerous precedent on taking a political stand?

    [Reply]


  29.   29. Posted By: SebasF1
        Date: March 29th, 2012 @ 11:12 am 

    I hope that we not return to Bahrain GP because it is a disgrace to the view of political events. It’s a shame because it was a good race but we must be firm with this country : http://www.wallpapersf1.com/Sakhir?wallpaper=66

    [Reply]


  30.   30. Posted By: db4tim
        Date: March 29th, 2012 @ 5:00 pm 

    Personally I think this is wrong on so many levels, F1 should stay out.

    [Reply]


  31.   31. Posted By: Adrian Newey Jnr
        Date: March 30th, 2012 @ 4:08 am 

    Whilst I do not agree with the alleged human rights abuses, I do think that F1 has had a small part in making the rulers affect some change. F1 has brought additional scruitiny from the world’s media. Without the race there, I think it would have potentially received less attention.

    [Reply]


  32.   32. Posted By: Kevin
        Date: March 30th, 2012 @ 5:20 pm 

    What’s the point of filling in the survey if Ecclestone and his cohorts dismiss the opinions of so many? 60% of people are against the Bahrain GP being run, and I believe that only 24% were in favour of it being run (the remainder were undecided/indifferent), and Ecclestone’s response has been that people and journalists are all wrong, and that all he sees in this matter is a PR challenge. Maybe he’ll take us seriously when he sees the figures after we 60% boycott the race. I will definitely be making other non-F1 plans for that weekend.

    [Reply]

    David Young Reply:

    Right on Kevin. I’m with you.

    [Reply]


  33.   33. Posted By: Geenimetsuri
        Date: March 31st, 2012 @ 12:18 pm 

    Yes…well…it’s all kind of hypocritical.

    Next race will be held in a country where human rights are even cheaper than in Bahrain…but the practical economy – we like cheap things (incl. oil!) – dictates that we must treat human rights violations there like a hippo in the living room: So big that you can’t ignore it but too powerful to do anything about it.

    So in reality the issue of human rights boils down to our consumerism: As long as we prefer cheaper goods to ethical goods talk about human rights is all hypocritical “jibba jabba” — We, that is you & me, are as guilty as the rich sheiks, dictators, drug lords or iron-fisted governments: We provide the money, and hence the power, to uphold the machinery of evil.

    We do it willingly. No, we even celebrate – post pictures in Facebook, tweet, brag to friends, etc.. about the new fancy gadget or gas guzzling sports car – the opportunity to provide funding to human rights abusing companies & governments!

    I wonder what the person who stopped the Tianamen tanks thinks about F1 circus not going to Bahrain because of “few riots”…but gladly going into China, where human rights and freedom of speech are trampled upon by the heavy handed, corrupt government.

    So in short, I think F1 should go to Bahrain, China, UAE, India etc.. BECAUSE we already provide the funding and support for the government and human rights violations through our consumer habits.

    Doing otherwise would be just too damn hypocritical.

    [Reply]


  34.   34. Posted By: David Young
        Date: March 31st, 2012 @ 7:57 pm 

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