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Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Apr 2012   |  3:02 pm GMT  |  105 comments

The first day’s running at the Sakhir circuit took place against in an edgy atmosphere as, for the first time in this Bahrain saga, events outside the circuit had a direct effect on the running of the Grand Prix.

Force India decided not to run in second practice, to respect the wishes of their staff who have expressed concern about their safety travelling back from the circuit at night. They came under pressure to revise their decision over the lunch break, but clearly there is a lot of anxiety among team members, especially as there appears to have been a second incident involving the team, which has not been discussed and the management led by Bob Fernley, needed to come up with a plan which respected his staff’s growing concerns.

So the mechanics started work on stripping the cars down after FP1, giving themselves a four hours head start on the worksheet. This should lead to them leaving the track before darkness falls around 7pm.

Meanwhile Sauber was forced to issue a statement saying that an incident involving 12 of their team members was not as dramatic as the rumours suggested. They said that they had merely witnessed masked men throwing firebombs on the opposite carriageway of the road and had not been directly involved in the incident.

For most people here there is no sign of any trouble, the town seems eerily quiet and only the significant police presence and the odd tank on the highway between Manama and the track indicates anything out of the ordinary. But clearly for anyone caught up in spontaneous violence, it is frightening.

On track the picture emerging is of what looks like a fascinating Grand Prix, provided that it goes ahead. Nico Rosberg set the fastest time on track, the Mercedes looking the fastest car here once again, particularly on the race track. But the tyres are going to be tricky to manage and the picture will be rapidly changing over the 57 laps of the race. It’s clear that the soft tyre is the one to qualify on for the front runners, but it will probably last only 7 or 8 laps in the opening stint of the race. Rosberg did a simulation of a qualifying lap, then 8 lap opening stint followed by a pit stop for the medium. This is likely to be a pattern we will see on Sunday. Michael Schumacher didn’t get to do a quick lap on soft tyres as he got blocked having set the fastest Sector 1 time, by one of the Caterhams.

It looks like there is only one lap in the soft tyre, though, so it will be vital to do a perfect job on the one lap they get in qualifying. After that the tyre performance drops off by 1.2 seconds per lap.

Red Bull ran both cars in the updated exhaust specification today, with Vettel and Webber up the sharp end in both sessions. McLaren had what team boss Martin Whitmarsh described as a “tricky” day, lacking grip on this Sakhir circuit, but there are sure to be contenders.

Immediately after FP2 Bernie Ecclestone and the Crown Prince of Bahrain gave an impromptu press conference in which the Crown Prince said that to cancel the race would be to encourage extremism,

“I think cancelling just empowers extremists,” he said. “I think for those of us who are trying to navigate a way out of this political problem, having the race allows us to build bridges across communities, and get people working together.

“It allows us to celebrate our nation as an idea that is positive, not one that is divisive. So I actually think that having the race has prevented extremists from doing what they think they need to do out of the world’s attention.”

Confusingly he then said admitted that the incident in which Force India staff were involved was “dangerous”, but “not directed at F1. “It goes to show that there are people who are out to cause chaos,” he said. This is despite pre-event assurances from Bahraini authorities, the FIA and Ecclestone that F1 personnel would not face any danger by coming to this country at this delicate moment to race.

“You [British people] had these problems last year in your country and there is a very big difference between protesting for political rights and rioting,” the Crown Prince added, “And the attack that happened around Force India was aimed at the police. It was unprovoked, and it was quite dangerous. But at no time was anyone from F1 in danger.”

There are several reports from F1 personnel who went into the downtown area last night of sightings of masked youths carrying Molotov cocktails. F1 people are treading carefully this evening, so as not to find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But the increasing calls for the race to be cancelled by British politicians and the growing sense of anxiety inside the paddock did not wash with the team principals when they took part in an FIA press conference this afternoon.

“People seem to be trying to do something to make sure that this event is not happening,” said Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali in a fractious press conference, where the team principals refused to get drawn into a discussion about the rights and wrongs of going ahead with this race. Clearly they feel that the media has played its part in stirring up a growing sense of crisis.

Bob Fernley then said something very confusing: “Hopefully the F1 programme has brought the world’s media here and gives a good platform for debate and hopefully it will help with the healing process for Bahrain and that’s why we are here,” he said.

This seems to contradict what was said in the run up to this race, which is that F1 is here not to get involved in politics, but for sport, because the event is on the calendar and therefore counts for the championship.

This situation needs a firm hand over the next 24 hours. Time will tell what may happen this evening and tomorrow in Manama. Protesters will have noticed the effect Wednesday’s incident has had on the sport, the way the news agenda has been dominated by it.

At the moment it is nothing more than one team missing one session. But hopefully there will not be further events which lead to more widespread disruption.

BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX, Free Practice
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m32.816s 35
2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m33.262s + 0.446 26
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m33.525s + 0.709 28
4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m33.747s + 0.931 26
5. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m33.862s + 1.046 31
6. Jenson Button McLaren 1m34.246s + 1.430 28
7. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m34.411s + 1.595 34
8. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m34.449s + 1.633 31
9. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m34.615s + 1.799 32
10. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m34.893s + 2.077 34
11. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m34.895s + 2.079 29
12. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m34.941s + 2.125 29
13. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m35.183s + 2.367 33
14. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m35.229s + 2.413 26
15. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m35.459s + 2.643 38
16. Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1m35.913s + 3.097 32
17. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m35.968s + 3.152 35
18. Bruno Senna Williams 1m36.169s + 3.353 30
19. Timo Glock Marussia 1m36.587s + 3.771 32
20. Charles Pic Marussia 1m37.803s + 4.987 33
21. Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1m37.812s + 4.996 28
22. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1m39.649s + 6.833 27

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105 Comments
  1. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    An F1 Grand Prix is not a G20 type event. It is not a political summit.

    The protesters seem hell bent on causing as much disruption to what is a sporting event with access available to all.

    Should we ban China and Israel from sending athletes to the Olympics? If sport allows itself to be held to ransom by political opposition then we start to head down a dangerous road.

    By these standards, all events would have be held in neutral Switzerland…or Norway, Sweden….imagine what a snooze fest that would be.

    1. alexbookoo says:

      Were you against the sporting boycott of apartheid South Africa then, which helped bring an end to that racist regime and which Formula 1 participated in by not racing there from 1986-1991?

      Sport always was and always will have a political aspect to it, to a greater or lesser extent. And if you’re looking for an example of the greater end of the spectrum, try the Bahrain Grand Prix, conceived as a vanity project for the Royal Family, funded by government subsidy, and new used for propaganda purposes to suggest the country is “uniF1ed” and “back on track”.

      Don’t be naive.

      1. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

        I utterly opposed cricketers plying in South Africa during apartheid. In the same way, I would be utterly opposed to any sporting events based in Israel.

        Apartheid is very different case….forced racial segregation with the aim of disadvantaging an entire population so that they can serve a non-indigenous minority population. Deprivation of citizenship and driving people out of the areas in which they were born. Apartheid was littered with examples of massacres, rape, ethnic cleansing, state sponsored terrorism…the list goes on. What is happening in Bahrain is very far removed from this.

        And yes, I have been to Bahrain…recently on several business trips.

        If its OK for international banks, conglomerates, and even small scale manufacturers can do business in Bahrain…then why can’t the F1 teams do business there as well?

        There is utter hypocrisy on this issue. Sure, there are human rights issues regarding Bahrain.

        But it seems ridiculous to single out Bahrain, …………especially from those who are more than happy to write their comments from their Chinese assembled desktops, notebooks and mobile devices…

      2. alexbookoo says:

        Your point was sport and politics are separate. My point was they’re not. Your response admits that they’re not.

        Of course the comparisons between South Africa and Bahrain are not exact. I wasn’t saying they are, but it’s ironic that much your description could actually be applied to Bahrain – discrimination against a majority population (Shia), massacres (Pearl Roundabout), rape (many reported cases), state sponsored terrorism (militia attacking civilians). I accept that these things aren’t on the same scale as in South Africa, but it was a curious list given what you are trying to argue.

        And the measure of whether a place is fit to race in is not whether international banks, conglomerates and small manufacturers do business there. They did business in South Africa too. They do business in Saudi, Uzbekistan, Israel…

        And I wasn’t aware that companies manufacturing goods in China mean I can’t have an opinion. Who’d have thought?!

      3. Dave C says:

        Chinese made laptops? What has this got to do with this race? Maybe the Colombian cocaine trade is harmless and less of an issue than stuff ‘made in china’.

      4. David Young says:

        +1

        If you study your history you will learn the the Olympics in ancient Greek times was a political event.

    2. Pr0phet says:

      [mod] Switzerland, Norway, Sweden! Why would a sport any more or less interesting in any country? F1 is about the teams, drivers, track layout, weather, etc. Not the geographic location. Or are we to assume a race in Colombia would be more “exciting” or “infused” by the presence of cartels in that country. Sorry, but this really was a nonsense comment and I find it shameful that this sort of national discrimination is deemed acceptable.

      1. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

        No offence intended…was just being tongue in cheek on stereotypes.

        Would never suggest an event in Colombia…no F1 standard track here for a start. And after the US Secret Service scandal, I would not want for tram personnel to get into similar troubles!

        On neutral country stereotypes, I am sorry to say this but these countries do not exactly have a reputation of being vibrant or exciting…or full of atmosphere. Anyone remember the riveting Austrian Grand Prix….no, because it was forgettable.

        Switzerland could not hold a grand prix in any case.

      2. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

        team personnel, not tram personnel!

      3. Craig in SG says:

        I remember an Austrian F1 – cant’ remember which year, early to mid 90s I guess. I remember it because there was a massive pile-up in the first corner. They restarted the race about 45mins later and guess what? There was another massive pile-up in the first corner. Can’t remember, but I think it may have even happened a third time! Quite funny watching on TV (nobody was injured) and very late to work the next day.

      4. Craig in SG says:

        Oh, and wasn’t it in Austria where Stefan Johannson totalled his Ferrari by hitting a deer that had wandered on track? I remember that ;)

    3. GhostWriter says:

      Mr Ecclestone’s actions remind me of the age old proverbial expression “There is no such thing as bad publicity…” Has the F1 circus leader finally pulled his most politically manipulative move yet? As Oscar Wilde said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” Sadly in this case, I think this his Ecclestone’s end game. More publicity but at the expense of a hurting Barainian people. I hope I’m wrong.

    4. Cesar says:

      100% agree with Mike from Colombia. I hope the event does go forth. But do stay safe James. Did somebody say room service : )

      1. alexbookoo says:

        This is absurd. You want James to be safe like all of us but you’re happy he’s been thrust into danger by the bloody mindedness of Ecclestone and the FIA, on the basis of political lies dressed up as security assessments.

  2. Tom in adelaide says:

    If anything is going to happen at the circuit it will most likely be during the first lap on Sunday…..

  3. CurlyPutz says:

    “significant police presence and the odd tank on the highway”

    How very strange to be reading those words on your F1 Blog James!!

  4. CarlH says:

    Well this is all going swimmingly isn’t it?

    Well done Bernie.

    1. alexbookoo says:

      Yep. Practically the whole world thinks holding the Bahrain Grand Prix is absurd. It’s headline news around the world. It’s only in the F1 bubble that there’s even any debate about it.

      The bunker mentality of Ecclestone and the Al-Khalifa family is backfiring on them. If the Al-Khalifas want to present an image of a stable Bahrain, it’s not exactly coming across like that is it! And all the pre-event comments from Ecclestone, the FIA, and John Yates (of all people!) have been exposed as ridiculous. F1 staff have already been put in danger, they were lied to.

      1. Don Farrell says:

        +1

      2. OJ says:

        If there are news reports it does not mean practically the whole World thinks its absurd.

        Basically minimum 95% of the world population does not care at all about what happens in Bahrain with F1.

        The remaining 5% are enthusiasts which are biased by the news, not by the real facts which we probably only find out in the far future it at all.

        I feel bad for the not well protected team personnel which are in the middle of this political news game and have their family worried by the news. However this also belongs to the popularity of F1.

      3. alexbookoo says:

        I’m interested in where you got your statistics from. Source?

      4. R Copeland says:

        Ecclestone is in it for the money. WY else did he give it woops sell it to sky. Its his money grabbing mentality that has endangered all the personnel Drivers, mechanics, commentators, and the genuine fans. We pensioners who have followed F 1 now cannot afford to watch it live. Bahrain is a minefield it should have been cancelled no sporting event should expose the contestants to possible life threatening situations.

      5. alexbookoo says:

        +1

  5. Vvipkho says:

    F1 like a pacemaker.

    Will nico win another pole position tomorrow.

  6. James, do you think Mercedes can manage their tyres in the hot temperatures? Apparently Rosberg was quoted in saying that their tyre management today was the worse its ever been.
    Do you think it’s tighter this year because teams can’t extract their true pace during the race in fear of not managing their tyres? What would you prefer to see in terms of competition? Cars going flat out during the race, or the more methodical and managed races?

  7. MrNed says:

    The mainstream media is loving this: Wednesday’s incident involving the Force India personnel is being reported as “F1 Team attacked in Bahrain”, a seemingly deliberate attempt to misconstrue the facts of the matter (as reported by Force India) to make it sound more dramatic and more targeted than it apparently was.

    Then there’s the self-serving UK politicians jumping on the band-wagon in an attempt to score political points: Evette Cooper, who made comments on last night’s BBC Question Time program, is so ill-informed that she referred to the incident as happening to “the Indian team” – clearly she’d caught the briefest snap of a headline pertaining to a sport she knows nothing about and saw an opportunity to try to score a point against her political rivals. She said nothing of substance about the Bahraini protests themselves – which, if she really cared, she would have done – and instead used it as an opportunity to take a swipe at her political rivals. YAWN!

    Could all of this have been avoided by cancelling the race? Possibly. But should the race have been cancelled just to deny society’s cancers – by which I’m referring to the mainstream media and politicians – a subject on which to bleat? I don’t think so, cos they’d have found something else to bleat about anyway!

    Unfortunately the question of human rights / democracy in Bahrain is now taking second place to the media and political feeding frenzy that has broken out amongst non-F1 groups. But surely this is all good for the protesters: would they have had this much coverage otherwise? Nope… they certainly haven’t up until now anyway!

    I’m not making light of the problems in Bahrain – like most people I know very little about the realities and so wouldn’t like to make comment – but I am sick of this media and political feeding frenzy already… put simply they would appear to WANT something to go wrong (and so IMO will be partially to blame if it does).

    Stay safe out there James.

    1. Laurence H says:

      I agree with every word you’ve said!

    2. Garry J. Berry says:

      Well said. It is astounding and extremely concerning that when our political ‘leaders’ speak on something we have knowledge of, or interest in, it only illustrates how ignorant they are and how arrogantly they choose to speak publically with minimal understanding of the true facts. This incident shows the unashamedly shallow & self-serving nature of our politicians. If the politicians wanted the GP cancelled they should have been voicing this months ago, not now when they themselves known it is too late. They only seek hollow publicity and should bow their heads in shame in having used this very dangerous situation in a foreign land as a tool for their own self-promotion in this country.

      We were all given one mouth and two ears, perhaps the politicians should use them in the same ratio.

      James, I don’t know or understand the situation within Bahrain but there are clearly underlying problems. I just hope that all presently in the country, both native and visitors, come to no harm this weekend and in the future.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        MrNed and Garry, great posts and appropriate comments on politicians.
        We see through their comments because we love this sport and have been following the situation for months.
        What’s troubling is that they are constant, in their behaviour, with anything that is currently in the news.
        It has always been this way and it never ceases to amaze me that people are constantly surprised at how politicians appear to be self serving.
        2 party system which makes us feel we have a choice. We still end up with a government..

    3. HowardHughes says:

      Fantastic post.

    4. matt m says:

      In a nutshell.

    5. kibby says:

      yes, there is a point here but its a minor one. let`s not overlook the mere facts, people asking for civil rights are being answered with bullets.
      a well known and established sport organization associates itself with third-party claims according to which “all is fine”
      no, it is not fine at all; whatever lame political statement comes out from Europe or elsewhere I don’t find that relevant whatsoever.

    6. [MISTER] says:

      Great comment.

      It’s obviously that you won’t solve anything by throwing fire bombs, right? Except the fact that with so much media there, they will get more coverage of how upset the Bahrain people are.
      These people are taking advantage of the media there not to try and solve their problems, but to make the government look bad, in my opinion.

      Hope we can move on from this weekend without any incidents.

    7. Paul J says:

      Good call.

    8. R. says:

      Very well said. Well done and hope you enjoy the race.

    9. Grayzee (Australia) says:

      Well put! An intelligent non biased comment at last. Now, let’s get on with the racing……..

    10. Craig @ Manila says:

      Excellent post.

    11. Kevin Green says:

      Yeah ironically even though F1 certainly should not be there and there presence is certainly going to create more immediate damage to the people it is also there strongest political tool through the World media, as I said in a previous post F1 rolls out on Sunday/Monday as NATO roll in?. more cheap/free oil??

  8. joemac says:

    Ok, every one be safe this is something we in Australia can’t realy comprehend , James tyres are a major part to see what the times mean from p1 to after q3 , where can I find info on who was running what at all times ?, as you said all this info is bringing us mortals closer to the sport and were loving it ,thanks

      1. joemac says:

        Thanks mate, but I was after tyre information

      2. spyke says:

        fantastic link went straight to my favourites

  9. Seán Craddock says:

    I think the Prince is right about not cancelling it, but only because it would be too late. I’m sure a lot of us can remember Indianapolis 2005 and how angered everybody got with bottles being thrown on the track.

    Lets hope it doesn’t come to that and this weekend (and next weekend for GP2) go ahead without any trouble

  10. SP says:

    Pride has got a lot to do with this. Some people thrive on pride and power and the Bahrainis/Arabs will ensure they push as much as possible for the race to go ahead . Even more than they have already done so. If the F1 circus didn’t arrive or the race doesn’t go ahead, they lose against the people (anti-government protestors). What they may not realise is that if something bad were to happen, not only will fingers be pointed at the offenders, but those in power will also be the ones to blame and look silly as well. A possible scenario that could be directed at F1 team bosses too. What p****s me right off is the fact that the teams are put at risk and I’m sure the government, royal family and whoever it is in power, do not give a hoot about their welfare. What matters to them is that the race goes ahead no matter what! I’m an avid fan and to be honest, I wouldn’t have minded a month break if it meant that we’d avoid any risks/danger. I just hope nothing serious happens. Rant over!

    Moving onto the track action. James, how did the teams fare on lung runs on both medium and soft tyre? I hear the Lotus seemed to have good pace on both tyres. Mercedes seem quick yet again, if either of their drivers are on pole or start near the front, I wonder how well they will be able to manage tyre life. It’ll be a brilliant achievement if they can pull off another good result. Onto tyres, if the softs are not going to last very long, I wonder if we’d see a mixture of strategies in the top 10, some running the soft and others the medium rubber.

    I expect another thriller. We’re really getting spoilt with exciting races this season eh!?

  11. doug vx says:

    Hi James,
    Interesting that McLaren seem to be a little off the pace. I expected them to fly here.
    I wish you had used a separate post to talk about the political situation..it’s obviously newsworthy but is not related to how the teams are going to perform…with perhaps the exception of Force India.

  12. Dan Orsino says:

    Is it at all possible to bed down overnight within the circuit perimiter and avoid worrying about journies to and fro?

    1. Dan Orsino says:

      James please delete my second sentence, it sounds flippant though not intended to be so

    2. Richard D says:

      I would guess that a lot of people will be doing that, but I suspect that they won’t have their motorhomes with them there. No doubt a lot of people with be getting helicoptered in and out.

  13. Andy says:

    There is no doubt that some of the F1 media have raised the general awareness of the problems in Bahrain and the protestors are using this to their advantage.
    I can fully understand anyone who has travelled to Bahrain having concerns about safety, but from everything I have read so far, nothing has been directed at the F1 circus. Sauber haven’t helped by saying that some of their people were involved in a situation when it was actually something on the otherside of the carriageway, they were just driving past.
    If they are so concerned for their safety why do they go to Brazil?
    For teams that say they are just there to race and not for political reasons, they should do just that.

  14. Harvey Bushell says:

    Thanks for the updates and commentary James.

    I’ve been unable to access the F1.com website for quite a few hours. I’m guessing they might be under some sort of DDOS attack at this time.

    1. James Allen says:

      There is a lot of speculation here about what’s happening with that site at the moment

      1. olivier says:

        There is a cyber war going on. Anonymous has hacked the official F1 website. The website will be down for the duration of the race weekend. Now, that’s what I call good karma. No people were injured or killed during the hack.

        >> http://www.formula1blog.com/2012/04/20/breaking-anonymous-shuts-down-f1s-website/

      2. Tommy K. says:

        Well, in my opinion, the Anonymous hacked the F1.com site. Yesterday, they said that they would do something. I guess that’s it…but then again, i’m only guessing, right? Let’s hope everything goes well. Stay safe James.

      3. Harvey Bushell says:

        It’s back up for the time being. I don’t want or mean to be alarmist but I have a bad feeling about the rest of this weekend. Stay safe James.

        here’s a few seconds of a march in Bahrain earlier today..

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=p362Kq3erc4

      4. [MISTER] says:

        OMG. That’s a huge crowd.
        I will be very surprised if something like this will not be present outside the circuit on Sunday. I hope not as it will create problems and people will get hurt…

      5. Jeff says:

        Nope – down for me at 10.50am US time on Saturday.

      6. Kris Grzegorczyk says:

        If you’re there James, will you write about your experience and impression there? I imagine there will be a lot of people in F1 coming out with their views once they’ve left.

        I’ve personally developed stronger opinions about the British media and politicians over the past few days than I have about the situation in Bahrain.

    2. CarlH says:

      Interesting. This happened to the GCHQ website last week aswell.

  15. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Good for Rosberg so far.

    Next year maybe won’t be a race in Bahrain, there are more circuits to fill the gap.

    James, can Force India to claim something to F1 because P2 was missing, legally, even for its own decision regarding security concerns?

    1. James Allen says:

      No, as long as they do a practice they can qualify and then race. No problem

    2. Jeff says:

      More significantly, I wonder if they have any contractual recourse for being censored out of the TV coverage of qualifying ?

      Are they going to also be censored out of the race coverage?

      Given that F1 is driven by sponsorship, and sponsorship is driven by TV time, this is a much more significant financial penalty for Force India’s backers than loss of a practice session.

  16. Rob Newman says:

    Rosberg set his fastest time at the right time. After that the temperature went down. It will be a different story during qualifying tomorrow and the McLarens will be on top.

    Will there be enough spectators on race day?

  17. CarlH says:

    What annoys me is the amount of politicians (primarily from the UK) who are now suddenly jumping on the bandwagon and calling for the race to be stopped.

    Where were they when the calendar was announced? Where have they been during the discussion in the past month?

    The decision to go to Bahrain was a complicated one, you can see points both for and against, but now F1 is there the race should go ahead if at all possible.

  18. Matt W says:

    I’m amazed that despite the rights and wrongs of going that so many people in the F1 world think the race doesn’t send a political message. It very clearly does and if F1 is so concerned with avoiding politics they shouldn’t have gone, shouldn’t have had Bernie doing a press conference with the prince and shouldn’t be trying to squirm out of an awkward situation.

    1. alexbookoo says:

      Bernie Ecclestone said this today: “It’s a lot of nonsense. You guys love it. What we really need is an earthquake or something like that now so you can write about that.”

      Just astonishing.

  19. Methusalem says:

    “Sky” have been denied permission to enter Bahrain? That’s what I’ve just heard over the Radio, is’t true? Why did Bernie give the GP to Bahrain, in the first place — doesn’t Abu Dabi suffice?

    1. James Allen says:

      Sky News reporter. Sky has dozens of people in the track and a Sky Sports News guy too

    2. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      So the whole of the Middle East is the same?

      So France should not be given a grand prix given that there is already one in Germany?..

  20. Colin says:

    Hi James,

    i have real respect for what you and the other players are doing. You, and the others in your position (ie not really having an option about attending) did not sign up for this type of work. But the professionalism from all is shining through.

    Just take care of yourself James.

    Looking forward to this race being over so i am not stressed about what i might read next.

  21. mr sneff says:

    “the Mercedes looking the fastest car here once again, particularly on the race track.”
    ??? where else but the race track would it be fastest?

    1. [MISTER] says:

      maybe in the pits :))

    2. Grayzee (Australia) says:

      hahaha….good point! Even the best best reporters sometimes sound a bit confused.

    3. gondokmg says:

      Good one!

  22. Matthew Atkin says:

    James, the commentators from SPEED were speculating that it would have been safer for Force India to leave after FP2 with the rest of the paddock in a convoy, and that boycotting that second session may have been their way of a political statement to say “we don’t want to be here”. Do you think that could have played a factor? Stay safe this weekend.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think Force India management handled this really well, they needed to stabilise the team and the gesture they made did that.

      Now everyone in the team is focussed and on side

      1. Kevin Green says:

        Correct they did BUT what F1 did today with showing near Zero coverage of the Force India cars on track as what appears to be an obvious retaliation on Force India for there unusual lack of running yesterday??

        This is all Absolutely disgraceful F1 needs serious restructuring at the top immediately and if possible inc the tv rights etc i note the Sky coverage/reporting was c*** as ever today inc the very bored sounding Brundle!.

        And to think i have posted comments commending Bernie and what he has done for F1 on previous posts, i am ashamed at myself!!

  23. Don Farrell says:

    I don’t feel comfortable about this weekend… wish we could fast forward to Sunday evening… it’s not right to be putting F1 employees both in teams and merchandising roles at risk over a car race.

  24. Jason says:

    Hi James

    This is a bit off topic, but could you do a feature on onboard camera technology?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, we plan to do that

  25. Grayzee (Australia) says:

    So, all politics etc aside, regarding the racing, are we to once again see a the World Tyre Management Grand Prix?
    I feel it is getting annoying, that we can’t see the true speed and potential of the teams because they are constantly having to “manage” their tyres.
    Mind you, it makes for some cracker racing, as per China!
    Still, is wholesale tyre management really what F1 is all about…..

    1. James Allen says:

      You do see the true speed – in qualifying, on a three stopper etc

    2. Jeff says:

      Formula 1 is a racing series, not a procession series. Mixing up the variables that the teams have to deal with increases the amount of racing that goes on, and allows tactics to play a bigger part in the final result.

      Personally, I was standing up in front of the TV and cheering for the last 20 laps of the Chinese GP as all the teams vied for position across the finish line. If this is what tyre management GP racing is all about, then long may it continue.

  26. JC Agoglia says:

    Interesting to see Vettel again trailing Webber by .2 or .3 seconds…
    Any thoughts on that or testing programs were clearly different?

  27. David Young says:

    A pretty intelligent and balanced piece from the F1 journalist for the New York Times.
    http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/20/the-unforeseen-consequences-of-the-bahrain-grand-prix/

  28. JohnBt says:

    Track surroundings are very open as it’s a desert or else it will be easy to hide a snipper or whoever somewhere to disrupt the race. Crossing my fingers there’ll be no incidents from protesters on Sunday.

    The tires are gonna fall off big time, guess it will be Merc, McLaren and Bull dominating again but who knows. Ambient and track temperatures was not as high as it should be for a desert environment. Noticed at the end of FP2 the track temp was only 32 degrees and 40 for FP1.

    All the best to those who are at Bahrain and take care.

  29. matt says:

    As sure as I am that this was far from Bernie and the Barhaini Royal families intention, I think their insistence that the race happened this year is actually a good thing for the people of Bahrain. Hopefully without people being harmed wether involved with F1 or citizens of Bahrain, the staging of the race has helped to thrust the political situation in Bahrain even further into the public spotlight, with UK politicians and members of the Bahraini elite being forced to comment on the unfolding events. Perhaps Bernies transparent greed and toadying to the rich and powerful might have actually created a situation in which the mass media and sports media are reporting on circumstances that perhaps normally many of us might not be aware of, or concerned with. The situation in Bahrain is far from black and white and indeed there are aspects of it – such as indentured foreign labour which are still not being talked about, but due to this race it is becoming harder for the ruling elite to hide behind an arrogant wall of silence.

    Perhaps Bernie is actually a closet social reformer hellbent on using F1 to shine a spotlight on inequality throughout the globe, Burmese and Syrian GPs for 2015 and Bernie for the Nobel Peace prize?

  30. Ryan Eckford says:

    Are the locals supporting the race meeting, or are they totally against it?

    1. Don Farrell says:

      Based on the view point of the tv cameras over looking the pits there were only a sprinkling of westerners in the grandstand during qualifying.

      1. James Allen says:

        THere are quite a few actually. Many live here of course, but I chatted with a bloke from Stourbridge, who said he feels safer here than he does in his home town on a Saturday night!

  31. Richard says:

    After that the tyre performance drops off by 1.2 seconds per lap.

    James can you explain a bit more please? How fast does it drop off the cliff and does it stay at 1.2 seconds thereafter?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not much data but from Alonso’s run it looks that way, yes.

      Rosberg had much better wear on his long run on softs in FP2. Looked much better, He’s a contender here

  32. Paris says:

    F1 is so like James Bond movies!

  33. Treaded Lurgy says:

    From the Anonymous rant:”And to anyone in the world who watches this race, either in person or on television – you also have the blood of the Bahrain Freedom Martyrs on your hands. Turn your face away from this abominable entertainment”

    I can’t watch it – I can’t afford $ky :-( Is listening to that nice MrR Allen to Radio 5 permissible instead

  34. Kevin says:

    James. I can’t understand the logic of the FIAs decision to race here. Ignoring the truth of the threat level and the political situation (which is almost impossible to access), we operate unfortunatly in the realm of perception. If they race and something happens the FIA loose. If they race and nothing happens the FIA still have damaged F1 reputation. However if the FIA cancelled the event then they score alot of respect from many people. I realise there is hundreds of millions tied up in this race (as a previous post of yours) but F1 has resources and opportunities globally. I can’t see the logic of this decision. Jean Todt and Bernie eccelstone have damaged their and the sports reputation for little gain. What do you think?

    1. Kevin says:

      Ps. Can we have a mobile site. I meant race and not rave, and lose and not loose. iPhone’s have their drawbacks.
      Pss. Be safe mate

  35. jpinx says:

    I’d love to listen to radio5 too, but it’s geo-blocked :( Now where was that proxy,,,, ? ;)

  36. Tony Alfonso says:

    Although the people involved in F1, the team, hospitality & media personnel etc, clearly have nothing to do with the ongoing political unrest in Bahrain, the presence of the F1 community there, only serves to legitimize and endorse a regime that is responsible for gross human rights abuses – past and ongoing (these are well documented and reported by credible organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International).

    Just over a year ago, what were largely peaceful demonstrations, were brutally suppressed on the orders of the rulers of Bahrain – the same people are still ruling the country – very little, if anything, has changed.

    Does F1 really want to be seen to be supporting this?

    On Friday, Bernie Ecclestone cut an increasingly pathetic and out of touch figure as he toured his superficial fiefdom acting as though nothing is wrong. Alongside him, the Crown Prince did his best to pull the wool over our eyes.

    Peaceful protesters being beaten, killed, imprisoned, tortured; or some cars going around in circles. Which is more important?

  37. Kris Grzegorczyk says:

    The Labour party’s insistence on bringing this up and the fact that the death of one protester is bigger news than the death of more than a hundred in a plane crash tells us more about what is wrong with British politicians and the British press than it does about the rights and wrongs of F1.

    If the media are truly interested in the human rights situation in Bahrain and not simply looking to stir up controversy about F1being there, then I’d expect any subsequent protester death to garner the same level of attention from the press. Something tells me, though, that I don’t expect this to be the case.

  38. Jeff says:

    James.

    The Speed F1 commentators pointed out that there were no pictures of the Force India cars reaching the world feed throughout qualifying. Are the Bahrain TV crews deliberately censoring the feed to punish the Force India team for pulling out of Practice 2?

    1. James Allen says:

      I know, very strange that.

      Bahrain doesn’t do the TV coverage, that is done at all rounds by FOM

      1. jeff says:

        Very interesting.

        Bernie’s revenge?

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