F1 Winter Break
F1 takes the plunge – Bahrain GP back on
F1 takes the plunge – Bahrain GP back on
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Jun 2011   |  4:14 pm GMT  |  251 comments

The FIA World Motor Sport council today decided unanimously to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix, after postponing it earlier this year due to civil unrest.

F1 is taking a step into the unknown (Darren Heath)

It is a very big decision and one that will cause a mixed reaction. It will surely resonate well beyond the boundaries of motor sport or of sport in general. Bernie Ecclestone has argued that money is not the reason the race is back on and has argued that F1 does not want to get involved in politics, but inevitably this is a case of “in not choosing we choose”. It was very important to the Bahraini government that the race be reinstated to send out a signal to the world that it has its internal situation under control, despite reports to the contrary in the media.

It remains to be seen whether the event will provide a rallying point for further unrest. The risk is that it will and Bloomberg is quoting protest groups suggesting that they will take the opportunity of a global media audience to protest,

“On the one hand, Formula One isn’t respecting human rights, but on the other, it’s a good chance for the people to express how they feel on television worldwide,” Mohamed Al- Maskati, head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, told Bloomberg.

Inevitably the race will be the subject of very high level security, with a ring of steel around the circuit easy enough to arrange. But while the teams and drivers will also be heavily protected, what of the media and other workers who stay in small, affordable downtown hotels? It will be very hard to protect them.

The FIA is confident of its decision; following the lifting of the state of emergency in time for the WMSC meeting, it conducted a fact finding mission to Bahrain in recent days and its team concluded that it was both safe and desirable for the Grand Prix to take place this year on October 30th, in a spirit of “reconciliation” after the troubles of the Arab Spring uprisings. But is the country ready for reconciliation or is there just a temporary suspension in the process of change?

The FIA also announced next year’s calendar with Bahrain as the first race on 11 March. So there will be not one but two occasions in five months where the eyes of the world will be on Bahrain.

The teams’ reaction to the decision remains to be seen. They were certainly making noises at the Monaco Grand Prix weekend that hosting the race this year – which also pushes the Indian Grand Prix back to the second week of December – would be very hard to do both logistically and morally.

Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali said that it would be better to make decisions based on the long term future of the race, rather than try to reschedule the race this year. The teams are discussing the decision this afternoon and it will fascinating to see whether they take a stand, and to what extent they stick together on this issue.

Yesterday the 1996 world champion Damon Hill had urged the sport not to hold the race this year, but the official announcement was made by the FIA mid afternoon, following a series of Tweets from Bahraini officials earlier in the day.

“This decision reflects the spirit of reconciliation in Bahrain, which is evident from the strong support the race receives from the Government and all major parties in Bahrain, including the largest opposition group, all of whom endorse the Formula One Grand Prix and motor sport in the country,” said the FIA statement. “The WMSC feels that reinstating the Grand Prix is a means of helping to unite people as the country looks to move forward, and also recognises the commitment made by the Formula One teams, their employees and families, and personnel associated with the Championship including the local team of volunteers who are so vital to the event.”

The Bahraini government – which is a major shareholder of the McLaren team – has offered dialogue on reforms without setting any parametres for the talks, but today it has made much of the support of the main opposition party in the hosting of the race. But the next couple of days will show the feeling on the streets.

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The day before Halloween?! I feel sick 🙁

I hope some of the drivers, teams and sponsors stand up … like they did in Indianapolis (Michelin tyre gate). The remaining racing drivers will make a fool of themselves.

I guess Hamilton has no choice but to remain silent and listen to the investors of his team.


Are we under some righteous illusion? Formula 1 is but an entertainment and marketing product. And I argue that this is not the product one should choose to protest wrongs. If you don't agree with race in Bahrain, why should you agree with other races, or why should you associate yourself with the sport at all?

The reality is that countless motor racing events have all demonstrated that human life has minimal value vs. the need for continuation of the event. (was 1955 LeMans halted?) It is something I have difficulty with personally and resent organizers for putting me in this position. But this is F1 motor racing. It is not righteous or moral. It is not green, fuzzy and soft. And certainly it is not politically correct. You take the good and the bad. If done right, an F1 season should bring up a whole range of emotions to fans. Those emotion will be like a platter of fine hors d'oeuvrs - some you will like, others you certainly will not.


As I understand, the reason Le Mans 1955 was not stopped was to prevent the large crowds leaving the racetrack and causing access problems for the emergency services to and from the circuit.


The wider issue is the politicisation of sport by governments and regimes that seek in some way to legitimise their policies and outlook. Perhaps the 1936 Olympic Games is an obvious example. It doesn't really matter if F1 is an entertainment and marketing product (a definition which I disagree with). It does matter, however, if its used to give credence to a regime that is killing and torturing its civilians in an attempt to silence demands for a democratically elected parliament. Reinstating the Bahrain GP during a time of civil unrest undermines the Bahraini people's claims for freedom and compromises the reputation and global standing of F1. Fuel for Montezemelo's breakaway perhaps?


I agree.

And as 'Born 1950' has urged, I also urge anyone who cares to sign the petition.


I suggest that all those who care boycott this race - I for one pledge not to watch it. This is completely unacceptable.


Anyone up for signing the petition? There's already 384,000 people signed (at 9.10am Saturday).



I would think the overwhelming majority of those involved in motorsport would take exception to using Le Mans 1955 as a barometer of their respect for human life. The fact that the teams were unanimous in rejecting the idea of rescheduling the race at all speaks volumes to my mind - yes, Formula One may not visit the most salubrious places on the planet at times, but there is a limit nonetheless. Bahrain are seeking to use the race purely as a political statement, far more so than China, Malaysia or Singapore have done in the past, and I think the teams are quite right to object to this just as we as fans are as well.


As I indicated, attitudes towards what is considered acceptable for the sport to overlook/gloss over have changed considerably since its origins - the 1955 race was not stopped because death was so commonplace in motorsport generally, although it did cause a considerable backlash to the extent that Mercedes Benz pulled out of racing altogether. The real issue with Bahrain is that the race is arguably being used for overt political purposes - "business as usual" - and the fact is that reports indicate that is nowhere near the case. F1 is therefore at risk of being complicit in a political whitewash, even if the race itself aims to be apolitical. Circumstances have overtaken it on that front, hence why there is such widespread misgiving about the race going ahead. Fair enough, the sport should not be used to promote a political message - but nor should it be taken advantage for one either.


On one hand I think that this is a "damned if you do damned if you don't" situation. But in the end I also believe that everything is always only about money. And there's a lot of it to go around with a race in Bahrain.

If security can be assured (secured?), then why not have the race.


What I'm trying to illustrate is that even in this incident the event was not stopped.

Why should there be a limit? The event has been scheduled, has been on the calendar before, under the same regime I didn't see anyone claim righteous arguments. Unrest breaks out, event is cancelled. Unrest is contained, event is rescheduled. Nothing personal, political one way or the other. It's just a motor sport circus, not a civil rights movement.


There are several different issues mixed up in this debate. Firstly, the safety of ancillary workers billeted outside the compound. Secondly, the moral question which you bring up rightly above - there are other causes which people aren't expecting F1 to take up. Thirdly, what kind of publicity can make a difference. One the third score, cancelling the race would send a powerful message at a sensitive time for Bahrain's people and government and help to swing them towards reform. It would not have the same opportunity in other countries because however oppressive they are, they are currently stable. Bahrain is not - it's at a potential turning-point.


Valid points.

Personally, I don't believe we should have any worries about security. I said before that football matches took place in front of empty grand stands, this even may take place in front of VIPs only with minimal staff required to service the event.

All argument points, like all coins have two sides. On the point of cancelling a race to send a message, does it not say to protesters that F1 is a political tool? Is it dangerous for F1 to become a tool with which protesters state their cause? Today some claim this is a righteous cause, tomorrow it may not be a cause we agree with.

F1 is just a motor race. It can't be treated as a tool for political statements one way or the other.

Michael Grievson

I think you made a valid point regarding the safety of the media. Personally I think its a bad decision.


Bad decision / Good decision : Media


This situation is very tricky for the media covering the Formula 1. They are not politic analysts and contrarily to us, what they are accountable of what they write. I am sure there is not one single journo happy to go there.

They will cover the race of course but they can't avoid mentioning the situation there especially if unrest occurs while the race goes on. They will be the subject of strong lobbying from the Bahraini authorities and the opposition as well and it will be hard to report objectively.

As for safety matters, I think that the protesters will be foolish to attack any foreigners either press or team members because it will be bad publicity to their demands and generally western media and people were supporting them. So far, it didn't happen in Bahrain.


They will aslo be subject to pressure from FOM and FIA to not report bad stuff, I thik the journalist have it the worst in this situation.


That's not true. I've never experienced that. It's made hobby people who don't go to races and try to make out that they are independent and above it all. They are not, they're just I'll informed


I cannot agree with this decision - the race should only have been reinstated if the situation on the ground had changed, and as far as I am aware it remains the same as it was in March. This sets a very dangerous precedent in the future and I will be interested to see the response of the teams given they were unanimous in wanting to see the race cancelled.


The situation on the ground is awful. There's an amazing Bahriani woman on Twitter under the name @angryarabiya - she's from a family of human rights defenders. Her dad and uncle were arrested and are facing military trial. She went on hunger strike in protest and got ill. It was covered in the western media (Guardian etc).

I trust her. Here's what she said today. "When our rights, liberty and lives matter less than a car race, thats when u know something needs to change."


This is true. I will not watch it. I feel like Bernie has said "If you can get all the trouble makers in jail so they can't screw up the show, we'll come back"

I know F1 goes to places like China that repress people, but in this case, F1 has put pressure on a government, people have gone to jail, so this race can go ahead.

It makes me sick.


Not being funny, but I think she needs to get some perspective. There is money to be made here love! More than the Bahraini people could make if they had more rights! It's a cost / benefit world now, m

I don't know about anyone else but I like my favourite brands and sporting personalities associated with promotion and support of tyranny.


this is terrible. what an embarrassment. will be interesting to see driver reaction as i know quite a few (if not all) were vocally against it.


As expected. I had not a shred of doubt that this would be the case.

Longer season - makes up for the late start, and means we won't have to wait as long for 2012.


Thats all you care about ?!



But I'm not the one to make the decision to go to Bahrain, or to bring back this race.

It's just a business decision, and I'm going with the flow and finding the positive in it Resistance is hardly worth the energy and will make no difference. These people have to win their own freedom and democracy like those before them. Look at Afghanistan to see how good intentions often make matters worse for those helping and those being helped before they are ready for that help. Look at Egypt as well. Let these people work this out on their own. F1 has nothing to do with it.



Your stance here is as cold as ice. Your comparisons to other situations are also misguided. It is ill advised to reschedule a race where oppression of local people is still evident and where people have lost their lives.

You cannot ignore morals here, and there IS a limit. No one wants this race that much other than Bernie and the FIA. The FIA also has shown little respect for the fans again and sincerely hope that FOTA boycotts the event.

The Bahrain grandprix is a slice of luxury for the Crown Prince, his big scalextric set if you will, which the local people in general have little interest in. You're right F1 shouldn't be used a political tool but this is a case of what is appropriate for these oppressed people, the world of F1 and the fans.

Bottom line is it's simply inappropriate to hold this grand prix at all. If FOTA show no backbone, I for one will not watch it and will complain to the BBC as well for covering an event which is tainted.


Honestly Seebee... you argue so strongly for the the race to be run no matter what. You are either the ultimate diehard F1 fan without a care in the world or work for the Bahrain government the way you have responded to this topic.

I am glad to read on the poll here nearly 90% of people disagree with the race being run. Maybe next year or the year after when everything has settled this is a good time to host the race but not now.


I'm die hard, logical, and I know what F1 is and why it exists.

No one was out there protesting Bahrain being on the calendar when it was signed. Media and fans were praising the event and hospitality. All of a sudden everyone is a righteous saint and is outraged and working hard to click yes on a petition.

Too little, too late. Either be righteous from the start or accept the sport you enjoy for what it is without naive views. Like DRS, everyone will soon accept this was the right call. It seems that many need a few more days to come around.


What I would have liked to have seen is the FIA using F1's political clout to say 'we'll host the race there, on the condition that *insert name of some respected human rights group* agrees the situation for people is improving. If they report the situation deteriorates, then the race is off.

That way, F1's presence becomes a valuable boost to human rights, rather than a dubious presence that looks like it just cares for the money...


Yeah I think your right. It was an opportunity to exert some pressure on the regime to make it change. It could have been done quite subtly behind the scenes.

The drivers and teams are in quite a difficult position now. I can't really see how any of the drivers going for the championship can boycott the thing. Mclaren are in a super awkward position too. .....hm. It would have been easier just to miss the race altogether.


Is F.1. being confused with U.N.?


Of course, you are right - sportsmen shouldn't care if someone gets killed when it wasn't them that did it. Silly us for thinking it


So you're saying the F1 should only go to countries where no murders are committed? And should be the authority that polices wrongs outside of the track?

Who will fund the track build on deserted island utopia and would we watch 18 races from the same track?

It is really becoming obvious that many aren't sure about F1's raison d'être. It's not fun being the person who has to bring a bit of reason to this debate. There is too much emotion here from people who have little stake in the Bahrain situation. They seem to forget how many died for rights in their own land. They forget that you have to let events happen at their own pace. F1 has nothing to do with it.


Well I for one will not be watching it, and I would encourage everybody else to boycott the race.

The FIA have obviously been taught their ethics by Bernie. Todt has had a five star visit and not come cross any dissent in the golf plated luxury he wallows in.


I definitely won't be watching.


I love F1 but I too will not watch this race.


Won't watch that race if the situation in Bahrain remains same or similar.


Me neither. Disgusting decision.

As with most walks of life, money talks. Forget ethics and what is right.

Typical of the decision makers in the sport..


25% of the race track staff are still in prison.

So are many of the medical staff needed to provide the necessary level of cover.

By their statement the FIA are seen to be directly supporting the regime in Bahrain. They (the FIA) are going to suffer for this, in the international press, in their public image (such precious little of it as is public) and most of all in the overwhelming disdain they will create in the fans and very probably the sponsors.


"25% of the race track staff are still in prison.

So are many of the medical staff needed to provide the necessary level of cover."

Sure they are. I guess you've done a speedy headcount in the last couple of hours?


Or maybe just read a newspaper.


It is very hot in Barhain at the momment, certainly too hot to spend the day protesting on the streets. However I am sure that if the people of the middle east not just Barhain will be making their feelings known come the autumn winter if they feel that they are being unfairly treated by their governments.


I'm 100% sure that this is the wrong decision, and 0% surprised that the FIA and FOM have made it.

I am completely embarrassed and angry to be an F1 fan today, it is shameful mark against the sport I love. I'm clearly not alone - I've not seen a single happy tweet about the decision all afternoon.

I hope the teams show some balls to stand together against this and boycott the race. If not them, then the journalists could do their part by not reporting on it - don't give this nasty repressive regime the publicity that it so craves.

I for one will not be watching the race if it happens. In the last 25 years I have missed only a handful of races in circumstances outside my control - this will be the first in that time I will actively choose to miss. I encourage all other fans of the sport to do the same. A message need to be sent to the FIA and FOM.


I am with you Lopek this is one race that people should make a stand on and not watch. Its the only way to protest about this decision being made today and for the people there most importantly. Please don't tell me they considered this option without money or politics being involved.


Great idea about the journalists not covering it! If only there was the will to do that.


Asking a journalist not to cover a story is like asking a doctor not to treat a patient.

Of course it will be reported and of course it will be watched by millions of people eager to see if the race runs as normal or not. Half of them will be the people declaring "I won't watch it" on here.


Agree 100% - Like yourself any races I have missed in the last 20 years or so have been beyond my control, this is the first race I will choose not to watch. Its a disgrace.

What is your opinion James or are you bound to stay neutral, or stay quiet for fear of alienating yourself from the F1 circus?


100% support. I will NEVER watch GP in Bahrain!

Richard Craig

I won't be watching either.

Let's hope the title isn't decided there!

Not that I think the race will actually happen, if FIFA sponsors are nervous about being linked to the corrupt regime there, I seriously doubt that blue chip companies like Santander, Vodafone, Red Bull, Virgin, Telmex, Infiniti, UBS, etc. will want to associate itself with such a controversial race (which is directly organised by the same ruling family that has committed so many atrocities towards peaceful protesters, medical workers and doctors.


Two of the companies that you mention sponsor an organisation that has strong commercial links with the government if Bahrain.


I feel sorry for the indian fans, especially expats who will be making the trip home to celebrate both the race & Diwali, which is on the same week as when the race was to occur.

This race does not benefit anyone other then a small minority. Team, Journalist & fans don't want to attend. It's not like this race has been a must see thriller anyway.

I think Bahrain should cop the loss of this years GP on the chin & should look to hosting it in 2012.


I'm surprised at all of you voting no.

Who or what is F1 to make political statements?

Are we really under the illusion that poverty in Brazil, human rights violations in China, communism in Hungary, and many others are/were different to Bahrain?

Have there not been countless of races held in places with questionable moral values or political leadership? Have drivers not died at the track with sessions restored after their bodies are removed from the track?

Since when is Bahrain special or different? Track is there, fee is paid, let's race. In the words of Freddie Mercury - "Show Must Go On"


To everybody saying many fans are hypocrites for not attacking China, Brazil, Turkey, etc.

We deal with these countries if we feel they are moving in the right direction. Yes there are many things we don't agree with in China, but China today is a much more open place than it was 15 years ago. The hope is that the more we deal with them the more they will adopt our way of thinking.

The same thinking applied to Bahrain. It seemed to be moving in the right direct. Now it has gone backwards. Not only that, but the race is THE biggest international advertising for Bahrain. If China lost the race due to human rights issues, it would not really care. In Bahrain the grand prix helped put it on the map. Bahrain is using the race to show the world that all is back to normal, when clearly it is not.

It would have been very easy for F1 to stay neutral in this matter by not having a race this year as there was civil unrest during the period the race was scheduled. Instead they have ... i don't actually know what they think they have achieved.


That'd be the same Freddie Mecury who played gigs in Bophuthatswana/Sun City?


Freddie Mercury will never die!


lol a palpable hit 🙂


Dont forget Russia soon.


I present to you United States of America, during Bush era. Hosting GP at Indianapolis Speedway. Declaring war on Iraq based on presence of WMD and links to 9/11, later proven to be myth. Did anyone boycott those races, or was it just the Michelin cars standing up for the right of it's "people" not to turn right on the banked turn?

I present to you the Untied Kingdom, during Blair era. Hosting GP at the always lovely Silverstone. Coming along with US to Iraq on same WMD and 9/11 myths. Did anyone boycott those races on the basis of the government decision?

I said it before, and I'll say it again, let's not be so righteous. This is just motor racing.


So we can expect your support for the Day of Moral Outrage Protests when the US GP comes on?

Good. I look forward to reading your comments.


Blair and Bush were not at all involved in organising their country's GPs though.


The difference is that neither the US government nor the UK government had anything to do with those races. The Bahrain GP is the golden goose of the Bahrain government. It is bought and paid for by the government to showcase themselves to the world. The same government who is responsible for murdering its own people, whose only crime is disagreeing with said government.

I have to say, I am deeply disappointed in the FIA's decision. I guess we no longer live in a world capable of making the very simplest of distinctions between right and wrong, because at the end of the day--regardless of whether it is sport or politics--that is what this boils down to. Any way to try to color it, parse it, explain it, the simple fact is that it's wrong.

After this I will be quite amused whenever the FIA attempts to penalize anyone for bringing the sport into disrepute. No, FIA, you ARE disrepute.


I love F1 and haven't missed a race in years and years, but can I watch a race from a country that has done such reported human rights offences? I did watch China I suppose... I take it a lot of people who read this website won't. I wonder if I'm strong enough to avoid the Medusa.

I'd love a driver to take a stand but I can't see it happening, not even Webber. Off to the desert we go, deserting our principles, will F1 get their just desserts?


I hope the protesters make the Bahrain Grand Prix the focus of massive peaceful protest. Formula 1's decision is disgusting and insulting. "...helping to unite people as the country moves forward" - please, FIA, don't insult our intelligence. This is a commercial and financial decision, at least tell it as it is. The Sunni Bahrain GP administrators have sacked their Shia employees. It is now an apartheid event, there's no other way to describe it.

It will badly tarnish the image of the sport and hurt the reputation of the sponsors. It's a huge mistake for Formula 1. But I hope it can be of benefit to the protesters. Their commitment to non-violence has been remarkable, so I don't see any reason to think that F1 staff will face danger. But the same can't be said for the Bahrain government, which will behave with a mixture of best behaviour in public and brutal repression behind the scenes - Bahraini people will be tortured and, on all current evidence, killed because of this decision.

But it may also provide some opportunities for the extraordinarily brave protesters. I hope it does, and while I hope everyone associated with F1 remains safe, I want the WMSC to be embarassed and shamed by events. That's what it now deserves.


"The Sunni Bahrain GP administrators have sacked their Shia employees. It is now an apartheid event, there’s no other way to describe it."

And you know this how?


Because it's in the news. From the Independent:

"Of the 108 local staff of the government-owned Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), which hosts Formula One, some 28 were detained and mistreated according to a source in Bahrain close to the event. All of those arrested are Shia and have since been sacked. Five of these are still in prison including the chief financial officer Jaafar Almansoor, an employee of BIC told Reuters news agency."



Evidently they didn't arrest *all of them, or fire *all of them.

"They" claim it was all for absenteeism - maybe they were out rioting instead of going to work?

So... there's 5 of these Shiites still jail in a Sunni-run country. This is a surprise?

Thats the way it is in the middle east.


That story was also in the Financial Times


They should've just waited til next year. I wonder what the financial sweetener was to the WMSC for them to take "the plunge" this year when they really could've waited 4-5 months and likely face much less scrutiny (unless things flare up or don't improve by then). I'm no bleeding heart, but I find this utterly bizarre.


Shameful. absolutely disgusting. About ready to quit following F1.

How much (extra) did Bernie get paid for this decision?


He got a story on which the world's media will report, and which will keep the sport in the papers when there is no GP, and which will surely drive even more interest to the event.

It will be most watched Bahrain GP. A risky marketing move to be sure, but this is the man who knows how to calculate risk vs. reward.

Bernie doesn't need to be paid. Value of this decision in the press to F1 is priceless. As Max Mosley, Spygate, Crashgate have already well proven - no press is bad press for F1.


I voted yes only because I think it affords the chance for the world to see Bahrain. Turning a blind eye to a problem only allows it to fester.

If certain teams are uncomfortable with the way the Bahraini government has dealt with the protesters, then perhaps they could use the race and the international media focus to say so. They could house their team in the neighborhoods of those who have been aggrieved. They could host dinners and tours for the non-elite.

This could be a very good opportunity for F1 to send a signal.


...I bet you would have voted for Sepp Blatter?


P.S if we have to listen to the [mod] Crown Prince for one second on the BBC coverage I'll complain to Ofcom, unless it is balanced with a protesters' voice.


Personally, I find this disappointing.

I believe that FOTA is against this, from what I have read, and hopefully they will meet soon to discuss their plan of action. (You just tweeted RBR's response a minute ago that seems to back that up)

If it does go ahead, the one positive I can see is that the global media will see more of the truth in what is going on there (whatever it may be), and if there are protests that they get the coverage that they may have been missing through a government-imposed black-out.

If they do race, I hope the cars are all black with no logos. Would the FIA be able to control a change of livery, James? If so, does that "homologated" livery include logos, or could they remove logos and retain the original paint scheme?


I am not sure that FOTA is against the decision. There are at least 2 teams : McLaren because it is owned by Bahrain's Mumtalakat (50%) and Ferrari because Dominicali was very supportive of the race in a press statement last week.


Not when I was listening he wasn't


Martin Brundle's tweets to which I wholeheartedly concur:

GP date changes bad especially for fans planning IndiaGP, costs+time off. Racing til Christmas, develop+test new car, 21 race 2012. Too much

web • 4/06/11 1:16 AM

Read copiously both sides of Bahrain story. Talked to friends+associates who live there. Thought long+hard about it. Mistake to reinstate GP

web • 4/06/11 1:19 AM

And let me add to that a point of agreeance with Ross Brawn. Finishing in the 2nd week of December is an outrage. It is an outrage that team personnel are required to work until almost Christmas.

21 races is far too excessive. Too many events, devalues the importance of any given one.

I guess quantity over quality has become thematic in F1 2011 when you take into account passing and race action.

F1 has SOULED out, clearly.


Words can't express my dismay at this decision.

What a shameful day for our sport October 30th will be.


When the lives of ordinary citizens of a country, men and women, young and old become less important than half a day's worth of corporate motorsports, when the pain of those bereaved off their loved ones who died resisting a regime in their bid to secure dignity and greater freedom can be glossed over to support something of little real significance in the grand scheme of things, when greed and an obsession with wealth decimates an expression of solidarity with a suffering population, that is when we know that that things have reached a state beyond despair. FIA, its still not too late to return to the land of sanity.


Bad news, something will happen and if not the crack down will be embarrasing for F1. I am not convinced if it will actually happen and if I was insuring Hamilton, Alonso et al, well I would expect a hefty premium or withdraw cover.

Unfortunately the F1 $ has won over basic human rights, a sad day.


F1 is not in the 'human rights' business.

Did you complain about that when they went to China, or Turkey? What about Russia?


Sorry, but please tell us how many people are having their faces rearranged with rubber bullets in Turkey or how many Chinese are being collectively herded into military style torture chambers.


Check with the Kurds about the Turks.

As far as the Chinese, well we dont know because the regime represses and censors the news. But you could ask the ppl of Tibet, perhaps?

And what btw is a "military style torture chamber"?


I have watched every F1 race on TV for many years. But I won't be watching this one. As most of F1's revenue comes from TV, the one thing us fans can do to make our voices known is to not watch the race. If worldwide viewing figures are low for this race, they won't go back.


A sad day. They shoot people in Bahrain.

Why not just wait one year? What's the rush?

I hope the teams boycott it. If not, then the media and the BBC should stay away. I wouldn't mind if the commentary etc was done from a studio.

CJ the 2cnd, probably...

So the teams should boycott the race but, failing that, the media should stay away, and provide commentary from a remote location? This seems to imply that you would watch the race anyway, despite the sentiments you express. I think Ben G deserves a prize for moral equivocation, or downright hypocrisy.


I will not watch the race. I call on everyone to do the same. We may love this sport, but the free expression of all people is paramount to a peaceful world. It was made clear early in the season that the race in Bahrain was never a desire of its people, only of its leader.

And Bernie, it's not about "safety". It's about democracy.


Terrible decision by the FIA and one that I sincerely hope that they don't come to regret if there are violent protests that will use the Grand Prix as a focus point for their anger with the Bahraini authorities. Very disappointed.

I hope the teams unite and say 'we will not go'


They missed their slot. To make such a special arrangement, moveing another race to fit Bahrain and request the teams to work into December is not correct.


Anyone who believes that Bernie doesn't care about the money has never even heard of Bernie. What a load of horse apples.

And the decision was made with the help of "Mr. Tariq Al Saffar at the [Bahraini] National Institute of Human Rights", article at autosport.com. I'm sure he is extremely impartial (wink, wink).


Yes, the genuine Bahrain Center for Human Rights ( @BahrainRights on Twitter) is against it. Many of their members, including the president Nabeel Rajab, say they have been tortured (as reported on mainstream media).


The ‘National Institute of Human Rights’ that the FIA talked to is a body set up and appointed on April 26, 2010 by none other than King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa himself! (http://www.habibtoumi.com/2010/04/26/bahrain-appoints-veteran-activist-to-head-national-human-rights-organisation/ )

Has the FIA been hoodwinked into thinking they’d talked to an independent organisation?


Well spotted! I'm sure the FIA wasn't hoodwinked. Rather they are trying to hoodwink us but you've found them out!


Update: It seems the FIA can't even get the name of the human rights body it spoke to correct. It's not the 'National Institute of Human Rights', but is in fact officially known as the 'National Human Rights Organisation'. Makes me wonder whether the "fact-finding mission undertaken at the request of FIA President Jean Todt, [when] FIA Vice President Carlos Gracia visited Bahrain on 31 May 2011 to assess the situation in the country" was at all robust or serious when it gets even basic 'facts' like this wrong.


Im absolutely flabbergasted, I for one will not watch the race ever again in protest.

Finishing in December is rediculous, next years cars are shown to the public in December.

Its wrong in every respect.


I've watched every GP on TV or at the track since the mid 80's, I don't think I will bother with this one.


F1 is a means of "helping to unite people"? What absolute drivel. In that case, the FIA should schedule a race in Libya, Syria, and Chechnya as soon as possible. I'm sure North and South Korea will also be "uniting" any day now, thanks to the healing power of F1.


Look I'd love to write something deep and meaningful, but I'm just lost for words. This is an absolute disgrace to the FIA and Formula One.


This is a shocking decision that is wrong on so many levels. The suggestion that it is not about money is ridiculous. The idea that this is somehow 'keeping sport out of politics' is even more absurd. My problem is that I just like watching cars race, but I do find myself wondering sometimes why I follow a sport that just has no shame.

So what to do? Well I'm not going to make some futile comment about never watching F1 again, but I won't watch the Bahrain GP.


Thanks for the info James. This is going to be the first race in over 20 years that I'll deliberately choose to miss. The civil unrest issue doesn't appear to have been resolved however the protests were forcibly crushed with the tragic loss of life - so it's OK for the circus to return so soon? Hmmmm.

Out of interest if any of the teams choose not to attend will they be docked any monies given the reason to return isn't financially motivated? Ross Brawn didn't appear too keen on engineers and co working into the new year then only having a couple of weeks break before returning to base in order to get set for 2012.


I am absolutely disgusted to see the FIA and Bernie placing their financial gain ahead of both the safety of the teams, and basic human rights.

The Bahraini government has not resolved this situation, they've simply swept it under the carpet, from where it could erupt again at any moment. Their actions, such as arresting doctors for merely providing medical treatment to people injured by their own government whom they tried to protest, have also been absolutely reprehensible.

I will not be watching this race, and I will consider its results (and effect on the championship) null and void, even if that means I believe a different driver or team won the championship at the end of the year.


Very disappointed to learn of this decision, incredibly short sighted. The FIA had the opportunity to demonstrate that human rights are not of secondary importance, and as a world governing body, unlike others sports, it is above suspicion when it comes to putting money before other matters. It will be interesting to see how many of the teams accept this decision. I cannot imagine they will wan't to race knowing that they will probably have to receive the (in)direct protection of Saudi forces whilst a significant minority of the Bahraini people protest their presence. Very very surprised and shocked at this untenable decision.


My first ever comment on JAF1, but feel I need to say something abouit this. Shameful is all I can say, as much as I would like an extra race as lets face it most of us cant get enough of F1, I am disgusted that they are going to go back there this year, it sends out totally the wrong message.

Also its a black day for F1 with the FIA agreeing the new rules for hairdryer size engines, they will be electric in ten years, that will be fun. I dont always just rant but come on Bernie and co, get a grip and listen to the fans for once, guaranteed we wont be here forever the way things are going, be interested to see what Ferrari have to say about new engines as they have no relevance to them.


As someone else said, "Poor Bernie, running out of dictators." This decision is an insult of historical proportions to the thousands of people of Bahrain who have suffered and sacrificed and given their lives in the struggle for representative government. I wish the teams would boycott.


"thousands of people of Bahrain who have suffered and sacrificed and given their lives in the struggle for representative government. "

Yeah, sure - thousands and thousands. Get a grip - nobody really knows.

Quoting hysterically silly numbers only makes you look... well silly.


Rich C, I think everyone has heard your point of view, and we'd all love to learn the basis of your skepticism. Do you have accurate numbers that can be independently verified? The people who "really know" would probably be the government security police who have a prison census and figures on how much ammunition needed to be replaced. What are they telling you?

You can say sport is sport and business is business, but neither is worth anything in the absence of morality. Human rights and politics are not the same thing.


My basis for skepticism? How about just not believing every "report" that some interested party puts out there. Do you actually *believe everything you read??

And the point is NObody actually knows these numbers. Riots and protests are chaotic events and there are no scorekeepers, only participants, putting the best spin on things for their side.

And for the security forces to know these things they'd have to actually care enough to count the ppl they shoot, or send to the hospital, or whatever.

Do you think they care one whit?



Actually I can't think of any other reason apart from money, why FIA did what it did.

Because right now it doesn't make any sense to hold race there.

First - because of the situation in country itself, I don't know who in a clear state of mind will buy tickets and travel there voluntarily... of course, maybe it will be safer in October-November, but I think even Bahraini government is unsure of that (of course they say different). Anyway, coming to a country only recently torn by domestic unrest is NOT a good idea. And actually, I fear that it might end very bad (hope I am wrong).

Second - the season getting even longer. I am sure (and really hope), that teams will protest the decision, because finishing the season in December is a bit too much, considering teams have to work on a new cars and actually give their people time to rest and spend with families.


Such a shame that F1 continues to be on the Oligarch's side! Its pointless really given that Vettel would have won the championship by Silverstone GP. Wonder if this means we will have a lot of No. 3 Drivers driving in Bahrain!


"on the Oligarch’s side"

Thats why they're going to Russia soon, didnt you know?


What's your problem with Russia?!?

Stalin died half a century ago. Cold war is over.

I'm totally against this race in Bahrain and my comment is provoked by your prejudices, not talking about Bahrain here.

You should get off your star-spangled banner-painted eagle and lose your prejudices.

I'm not gonna get into political argument here, but if you think that U.S. is any better then Russia, you are wrong. They are just more P.R. skillful.

I mean, U.S. bombed, invaded etc, more counties in the last 60 years then all other nations together.


Bloody stupid decision, can not fathom the reasoning behind this apart from the all mighty dollar $$$!@!!


You are 100% correct. I am not going to be watching that race. Let's boycott it !


I think with the vote that is taking place at the bottom of the page that the majority of people think its the wrong decision to reinstate the GP. But the people that I feel sorry for are joe public and I guess the independent members of the media who would have to cancel and change their plans for the Indian Grand Prix. This although politically was a necessary change, but unnecessary for every other reason.

Imagine what the Indian crowd would say "if" the World Championship was settled at Bahrain?!?!?


You're right. But in today's world ticket box office knows where the purchases came from, and they likely looked at the numbers and know the impact will be minimal. I'm sure hotels and airlines will accommodate the few changes. And we know air traffic into India from rest of world is significant.

And Adam, as you and nearly everyone on this forum knows well, the 2011 F1 championship will be wrapped up 31st of July in Hungary. Setting some sort of a record in the process I'm sure.

Maybe Sebastian Vettel will call in sick for the Bahrain GP - not much point for him to go.


How on earth did this decision get made? The BBC were reporting *today* that the authorities have yet again opened fire on unarmed protesters. Surely some big sponsors will be unhappy with this, to say nothing of the teams. Like FIFA, it seems the FIA has its grubby secrets, and this sort of thing only supports that suspicion.


This may be the first time in my life that I choose deliberately to NOT watch an F1 race ...

Let's imagine that at the time of the race, the UK Foreign Office (or any other country, which hosts F1 teams) issues an official travel warning for this country and the "fun" would truly be on.

In that scenario no employer could force any employee to travel into said country and the teams had an official reason to boycott the race.

It may not come to this, but a mutiny of the FOTA teams may be something I would actually support!


What a disgrace. The FIA are going to get heavily criticised for this by world media. Not only that, Ecclestone personally will take a hit. This disgraces his integrity to put money over doing the right thing on multiple levels - being seen to support the Bahrain regime and also the personal lives of people working in F1.


That is the problem you have when someone running F1 believes he is beyond reach. Eccle$tone doesn't care as long as he gets his fix of hard cash.



Well, then, let the moral outrage begin!

The same moral outrage, I am sure, that we saw in China and will see in Russia.


Just race there, everyone being hypocritical and dramatic about it.

For some reason the Western media forgot to mention and show the "peaceful protestors" shooting down policemen and random people on the streets.

What did they expect to happen?

Go to certain shock sites and you can see the footage yourself, which Western media refuses to broadcats because it doesn't fit their agenda.

If we can race in the USA where the police are daily killing innocents because they are black with a cellphone in their hand, so can we go and race in North Korea for all I care.

Democracy, schmemocracy.

uncommon sense

And isn't the whole narrative about the supposedly peaceful protesters being unarmed victims of the big bad government, then why is there a concern about the security of f1's fringe personel being at a security risk if they go to bahrain? This is very disappointing of f1's normally thinking audience to be so gullible towards mainstream media outlets


Do you consider Al Jazeera to be "Western Media"? What is their agenda?

What about Amnesty International? What is their agenda?


What about you guys having no problem with the Chinese GP while they execute anyone who is against the government? We are talking million murdered in the last few decades.

Chinese government kills more of its own citizens in a month than Bahrain did in 10 years.

Why aren't you people making a big deal out of that? What is your agenda here?


Because F1 isn't being used as a tool in China (it would make no difference to opressed peoples plight in China), in Bahrain it is a different story.


"Chinese government kills more of its own citizens in a month than Bahrain did in 10 years."

Could you point us to a reference for this statement?


Let me return some questions for you: where do you draw the line? You have to start somewhere. Is it better to deny one bad country a GP and allow another, or is it better to allow both bad countries to have GPs?

Where do we start if we want to draw the line? Do we ignore it all? Do we start with the obvious violators of human rights, set a precedent, and then work forward from there? Do we end the Bahraini GP, Brazilian GP and Chinese GP? Or do we start up GPs in Libya and North Korea so the repressed masses can be united by the magical healing powers of F1?

I never said that holding a Chinese GP is acceptable or not. Nor have I said that a Brazilian GP is acceptable or not. If there is strong evidence that there are serious human rights violations being committed, then the FIA and FOTA should look into whether or not they should run there. I agree that it is no different which country we look at under the microscope, but at the same time, we have to start somewhere.

So what do you think the FIA should do?


And to add, I am more disgusted we race at boring places like Valencia and Hungaroring. People of those countries should rise up too so we can stop going to those tracks.


The funny thing is that both the media and the teams don't want to go.

So we will continue to see an uncomfortable reporting of the bahrain gp allllll the way until the Sunday evening.

Sounds very awkward to me, how many people will be asking themselves the question, Is it worth it?

Count those pennies Bernie.


The organizers of the Indian GP could be big losers in this fiasco. It would not surprise me FOTA put its collective foot down about racing in December, which would leave India, the innocent bystander in all this, up the proverbial creek.


The poll results at this writing 92+% NO speak for more than 700 people.


Just goes to show that Bernie and Todt couldn't give a monkey's about the fans, only the money. How out of touch can you get?


Will you go, James?

It seems clear that you have very real concerns about the safety of journalists such as yourself.

I'm sure none of us would blame you for having, errrr, other urgent plans!!




But not unexpected from Ecclestone, who continues to plumb new depths.


And I hope any commercial organization which does not withdraw its name from sponsorship of this GP suffers accordingly.


I won't watch as I think it's outrageous. I think if fans put pressure on sponsors then at least the cars may run painted all white.

The only saving grace is the Championship will have been wrapped up way before the race so no one will be interested in what was already a very boring race.


I was disgusted when I heard this too, but just now I read this on an F1 forum:

"What about the Brazilian GP? Their government arrests people who voice their opinion against the government. Tortured, murdered, never to be seen. Tens of thousands are the latest estimates. You should also see the starving people around the GP while everyone is drinking expensive champagne.

What about the Chinese GP, the communist government is responsible for the death of more of their own people in a year than Bahrain can achieve in a millenia. Executing them randomly and starving a vast part of its population to death.

Where is the F1 outcry about that? You all gonna stop watching those GPs too?

I mean, you have to or you will look like a total hypocrite right? Or does it have to be first on your TV non-stop, telling you how to react to it before you decide what to do? Or maybe this rule only counts when we are dealing with muslim countries, yeah?

Why isn't Brundle, Webber, FOTA, you all making a big fuss about those GPs, the governments of those countries kill way more of their own people than Bahrain can dream of doing?

Hypocrisy is a funny little thing, in an ironic way. "

Respond to that without looking like a hypocrite?


Can you back up the facts and figures you are attributing to the Chinese government? Looks like you are just pulling them out of the air.

uncommon sense

The points you raise aren't being replied to because they are too much of an inconvenient truth for people to acknowledge and they choose to look away, this is clearly an occasion where f1 is collectively being a victim of herd mentality under the tutelage of partisan mainstream media outlets


So where do we draw the line? That also needs to be considered. Do we next hold a GP in the middle of war-torn Libya?

Fact remains that there must be a line drawn, and right now Bahrain is a good place to start.

If there is good evidence that China and Brazil are bad offenders, then they can be looked at next; however, if you don't start somewhere, you will never get anywhere.

So now where do you propose we start making the world a better place?


Follow international news - if you think China and Brazil don;t arrest and execute anyone who is against the government. Maybe you should Google a bit, millions are the numbers in the last few decades.

Yet no one whines about those GPs?


We stop making F1 political.

We bring F1 to places to share the joy of F1 racing.

We hope certain places evolve their humanity.

We stop pretending we are best and know best.

We let democracies blossom at their own pace.

Most importantly, we enjoy F1 racing for what it is.



Something we can share and enjoy with others.

Paul Charlton

Too bad the actions of the FIA have such a negative impact on F1 fans. Both the FIA and Bernie are well past their due dates, rank I would say. FOTA now has the opportunity and obligation to implement their own regime change.


I can't believe they have done it! When money talks, there is no dignity, no honor, no humanity...nothing.

Anyways, for me F1 is without this race. I will not watch...



That's the best word. And to say money and politics aren't part of it is a disgrace.

How about the FIA introudce a non freedom restriction agreement where countires who don't allow personal freedom are banned.



What about countries that invade other countries as they please?


I see that 92% of people here do not agree and think it is WRONG. I suggest we agree not to watch the race. FIA and Bernie thinks that fans will eat whatever they are going to feed us. This is plain wrong!


Reading here shows the fans are against this race I mean one person on here saying they are not against the decision time for the sponsors and teams to show their dissatification with this decision by some subtle protests of their own I know thhe teams are contractually liable but how about the sponsors with the teams help showing some morale fiber to the fans and the people of that country rather than falling into to fia line of really honestly its fine in the towns and it really isn't about money sarc sarc


Aren't those who support an organisation that is partially owned by the government of a country indirectly supporting that government? When a person buys official merchandise from such an organisation then presumably the proceeds end up directly or indirectly with the shareholders.


Bernie says F1 should stay out of politics? But can't he see that by cosying up to the Bahrain leadership F1 is in politics right up to its collective neck.

Bad decision. Let's hope there's a boycott.


A boycott of the race or of ALL links?


This is a mistake. Not enough has changed in Bahrain since the spring to justify going back.


I am utterly appaled by this decision. I see that the teams will discuss this through the forum of FOTA, and I can only hope they agree to boycott the race. I also hope that the team sponsors pull out if the teams are forced to attend by the ruling council. F1 will be severely damage (and deservedly so) if this race goes ahead.

Michael Prestia

I'm reading all the public's negative feelings towards this decision so I don't see how the team sponsors will be happy with this decision as it also looks negative on them.

Money talks...


James, putting aside the political rights and wrongs of this for a moment, I have three questions - two of them specifically for you as an F1 journalist.

1. If the Foreign Office advised against travel to Bahrain, would you stay away or does the journalistic instinct win? (And that's before we consider what the teams will do in the same situation!)

2. Are F1 journalists and broadcasters contracted in some way to physically attend every Grand Prix or could we see an FOM feed with pundits in a studio while print and on-line media stay away?

3. Would a mid-December finish have repurcussions on both the end-2011 and start-2012 as teams move effort to the new cars? Anyone who doesn't will surely be on the back foot next year more than ever.


Of course its all about money. Bernie's money.

Boycott the race! Don't watch, don't read, don't participate in blogs nor forums which go, blogs stay away, just tell the government in Bahrain that its not OK to shoot citizens.


The race isn't the only link that the government has to F1...


I cannot agree with this decision. Many years ago F1 abandoned South Africa for not altogether different political reasons to the political climate existing in Bahrain today. F1 has to be consistent on this issue.

Fred Imposter

Pity the poor people who've booked for India - but who cares about the spectators ... Pity the journalists covering Bahrain staying *outside* the ring of steel ... Pity the poor people in Bahrain who are suffering and know that they are seen as less important than a car race ...

As long as Bernie's getting *his* money, then all's OK.


I was getting more & more fed up with this season as it was, with all of the 'aids' for overtaking ... when there can be such a big differential in performance that overtaking can become 'easy' even with the stupid aero rules put there by the FIA, then things have gone too far. But who cares, the Circus is what's important to Bernie, and that people are paying to buy tickets.

I want to see sublime driving, I want thrills and spills, I want to feel I'm watching skills that I could only aspire to ... I'm off to the WRC.

Bye bye.




Hungary 86-89,Argentina and Brazil on MANY OCCASIONS under militar dictorships,Bahrain until 10,China to these days and so on...

What is the difference now?


Hopefully the Bahrain GP and the rescheduling of India will be the last straw for FOTA to form a breakaway series.


why do people still insist on a breakaway series?

all that will do is completely kill the sport, just like it did in america with cart/irl. it will split the fanbase, split the sponsors and split opinions.

the teams will do nothing but argue over the series direction and end up splitting themselfs, just like what happened with cart.

a breakaway series would be the worst thing which could happen to f1, those who think it would be some sort of savior or whatever either don't know there history or don't fully understand what would happen if they did split.

a breakaway series will not happen, will never work & would cause far more problems than it solves.


Yes, the CART/IRL split resulted in open wheel racing in the USA failing into a life support status. However, it doesn't have to be that way in F1 as long as they can get the best-known tracks to go with them.

Using the USA example, in somewhat different circumstances, USAC was successful taking over from AAA because they were backed by the biggest race, the Indy 500.

Decades later, CART split from USAC and was successful for many years, again because they were able to include Indy on their calendar. In both these circumstances, American open wheel racing continued a growth pattern.

It wasn't until the IRL split from CART that this trend reversed. The main problem was that CART was the stronger series, but IRL had Indy. The result is that the best from both series became progressively weaker until unification was inevitable.

The key for a FOTA series is the tracks: Moncaco, Silverstone, Monza, etc. If they get they tracks, they will succeed.


I wish but it won't happen.

Today is a bad day for F1


Maybe not yet the last straw but it will certainly move them a step nearer.

Ross Brawn said a December end to the season is "totally unacceptable". How can FOCA back down from that position ?

The FIA is like FIFA in one respect : a large group of cosetted representatives from numerous countries with no history of motorsport, voting on the future strategy and working practices of a sport they have little understanding of and no involvement in.

I have never understood why the teams are prepared to put up with being pushed around by the FIA. It's not as if it's like the ACO who actually organise LeMans. F1 is organised completely by FOM. Pretty much all the FIA own is the term "F1" and, I think, "Grand Prix" (?)

It would be easy for the members of FOCA and their sponsors to agree the calendar and have there own marketing organisation headed by Bernie to sell the TV rights etc.

At the same time a new technical working group without the FIA can be formed to set the regulations.

They would then need to set up a completely independent regulator to arbitrate on disputes and set compulsory safety standards etc.

From the enthusiast's point of view a breakaway series will mean the end of the hated 1600cc / 4 cylinder / 12,000rpm formula

Bring it on !


Hi James,

Can you keep the readers posted of any efforts that fans could support (organized letter-writing campaigns, etc...) to let sponsors, etc... know how they feel about this race going ahead?

Also, what do you think of the argument that if races go ahead in places like China, then it is hypocrisy to complain about Bahrain?




China is a red herring in this discussion. Maybe if F1 had raced there months after the Tiananmen Square incident it would be relevant, but it isn't.


So all the people being arrested, tortured, imprisoned for like, executed TODAY, because they are a "threat" to the communist government, doesn't matter?

Ask the Tibetan monks for a starter. And the pro democratic party who for some strange reason all disappear.

Yeah, those countless people don't matter, China is cool, let's race there.


Show me Tibetan monks who work at the Shanghai International Circuit being pulled out of their offices by the police, arrested and beaten and then imprisoned, and then I'll agree. Maybe you should read this:



Shocked and disgusted!

I read this article in the Independent today:


A third of the staff at the Bahrain GP circuit have been jailed, abused and then fired.

How can the FIA be agreeing to a GP in these circumstances.

I for one will not watch the Bahrain GP.

I hope some of the teams will show more ethics than the FIA have and boycott the GP.


I'm glad to have more than one reason to miss the race 😉


If even half of what is in the Independent article report is true, the race should definitely not proceed.

It just goes to show just how out of touch the Motorsport council members really are : or how they have been grossly misled by the official report and simply voted like sheep in support of Jean Todt.

Either way it's a shameful decision.

Worse still, the risk to everyone travelling to Bahrain for the race must be extremely high.

So the decision was both shameful and inexplicable.


It'll only take a single reporter or fan to get injured or killed (obviously i hope it doesn't happen) for the whole embarrassment of this decision to be shown for what it was. All about the money despite what's been said.

The teams boycotting the race excludes them from the championship (although would it work out the same as the famous Indy race with Michelin tyres?)

Will the teams insurances cover them if the Home Office doesn't lift its travel advisory on the country (probably not) so they'll get out that way ...

FIA has made a terrible choice today and one that has alienated the fans (and the teams) from the governance which at a time when a new agreement is being negotiated and rules/regs in discussion is very bad.

Poor show F1, poor show


James, I admire you a great deal. After being away from the sport for decades, it was the clarity, enthusiasm and attentiveness of your announcing that made the broadcasts watchable again after so many years. And of course I admire the drivers, managers and mechanics of the F1 sports league.

But the people of Bahrain are struggling for freedom. Almost none of them have the opportunities to pursue a professional interest as you do... And you rub their nose in that oppression when you visit their country at the invitation of "royals".

(...Royals who, being wealthy, imagine themselves to be successful businessmen. It was cute when Bernie --a genuine market animal-- was able to extract amusement from them, but there's righteous irony in the opprobrium he's suffering this afternoon.)

I sincerely want what's best for everyone, for all residents and visitors to that nation to be safe.

But if --Heaven forefend-- you or some other comparatively wealthy F1 participant is injured in social violence during the 2011 GP of Bahrain, will you expect that we should feel sorry for you?

Stay safe, James.


Sadly I think this will probably be the safest race in the history of F1 as there will be so many Saudi military there trouble there won't be.

This thread had brought to the fore how contemptible F1 really is and what it's all really about (it is never a sport so let's not kid ourselves).

Just keep an eye on the media and ear to the media and not how many (few if any) within F1 say what should be said and act accordingly - I fully expect (up till now) respected journalists and commentators will be almost silent if not silent (I bet Webber won't be, in my view one of the most upfront and genuine guys in today's F1).

The whole thing certainly puts McLaren under the microscope doesn't it?


Yes, dodgy investors can eventually become an embarrassment.


(For the record, I'm writing from the United States, and the larger share of international responsibility for the present mess lies on our shores, not with international sport interests. We all know who's who and what's what, right?)


I don't agree. You are responsible for many things but what is happening now is out of your responsibility.

The biggest hurdle to Bahrain uprising success is Saudi Arabia, not the USA.


Shame on BE et al.


James - perhaps your blog needs an article listing the contact details for all the F1 teams title sponsors so that your readers dismay could be more easily communicated to those in a position to get this decision reversed?



What is your view of this decision from the sponsors point of view? Surely some of them will have reservations about the race going ahead and their brands being represented?

Personally I think it's a pr clanger on FOM the FIA's part - I just hope the championship is wrapped up by then so I don't have to bother watching it.


Extremely surprised and disappointed by this. I guess the closeted wealthy elite making this decision are so above normal accountability that they think they are immune to any consequences that will follow

Sadly they are right and as usual it will be everyday Bahranis (?) who will be pay the price for our enjoyment. I hope that I can find the discipline not to watch this one. Boycott it now.


The people on this blog are so PAINFULLY hypocritical. It's all very well saying they will never watch another GP from Bahrain but what about the other tracks?

China - oppressive dictatorship masked as a 'single party system'

Abu Dhabi - oppressive dictatorship masked as a 'constitutional monarchy'

Brazil, Turkey, Malaysia - hopelessly corrupt.

India - even more corrupt and dreadfully unfair society.

The only reason so many people seem to moan on about Bahrain is because it's splashed on the cover of the Daily Mail. All the above countries with the exception of Turkey have important trade ties with the UK or are developing quickly so their hopelessly unfair societies rarely get a mention.


I agree, but this blog is particularly about Bahrain, hence so are the comments. You've got to admit that the situation in Bahrain is far more volatile and has received a lot of worldwide attention, so I think most people question the wisdom of F1 going there at the moment.

If we all decided to only watch races hosted in non corrupt "democratic" countries, we wouldn't be watching any races at all!!


Better that people should care about the little they understand than that they should give up caring.


Honestly, what you posted is very true.


... maybe you and your fellow motor sports "journalists" could could forgo the delights of the Redbull pleasure dome and stand behind people like Naziha Saeed by refusing to attend or report on the race?


Seems to be all about the money, but JA's poll here suggests that 92% (so far) of fans are against the Bahrain race going ahead!

Will the TV stations decline to show the race if the fans don't want to watch it?


Sorry, but you're kidding - right?

Please provide a list of stations which didn't show Olympics from China.


All that is need to stop this (and it should be)

TV is we will not show it....period


im very happy the bahrain gp is going ahead and that there is a race held in future years.

i am a bahrain citizen and love f1 which is starting to become more popular in this part of the world thanks to the races in bahrain and abu-dhabi.

in the past people in this part of the world who had an intrest in motorsports didnt really have anywhere to go, now all racing fans in this part of the globe have circuits which we can attend.

i have been to every bahrain gp and i was planning to go to the race earlier in the year & will definately be attending in october and in future years.

as to the political situation over here, its not ideal but i have a suspition that its not as bad as what your media may be saying. its settled down in recent weeks and i say its safe to hold a race.

is it any worse than when there was a race in south africa some years ago despite the politics there?

and there is lots of crime and slums next to the circuit of brazil yet nobody has problem going there.

thanks you, thank you, thank you, thank you fia and f1 for keeping our race 🙂


Nice to hear the Bahrain Government posting on this blog.

Glad to hear your side of the argument...

Your comment about South Africa under apartheid reveals you to be blind to moral issues, a frightening place to be.

As for your crass "smiley face", I hold my head in shame that F1 are going to Bahrain.



Human Rights: What are they I hear the FIA, FOM & the money men behind F1. Shameful


Here's a thought. Why don't the teams show up but all have "mechanical failures" on the first lap?


Pull tons of hardware around the world just to turns an F1 event into a farce? How does that serve anyone either?


Really shabby. Sometimes Bernie needs to think beyond the bottom line.


Fortunately enough for Bahrain's [mod] unworthy leaders; they not only had Saudi Arabia to provide them with military support against their own subjects; but they now have Bernie Ecclestone's troupe to help the world forget their murders.
Surely they could take the financial hit so that their sport can retain its name?


Like others my first post on here. I will find it very difficult not to watch the Bahrain GP in particular if it turned out to be the championship decider. But it wouldn't be right to watch.

Also spare a thought for people who have booked to travel to the GP in India. All cheap air tickets are non refundable and difficult to change.


i wonder if the fan opinion would be so negative if this situation was happening in Belgium or something?

i think perhaps the biggest reason people are so against the bahrain gp happening is more to do with the fact that a lot of fans don't like the track to begin with.

i personally like the bahrain circuit and think it has produced some good racing over the years and it has often produced more overtaking than places like spa, suzuka & silverstone.

with that in mind, i am not against the race coming back onto the schedule at some point when its safe & correct to do so. if thats in 2011, 2012 or later isn't for me to say but i definately would like to see the Bahrain gp continue in f1 in the future.

we have had/still have races in places with shall we say questionable political situations & fans didn't/don't seem to mind about these i say because the races either had a long history or were considered good venues/circuits.

like i said in the 1st paragraph, if the situation in bahrain was happening in belgium, would you still be so annoyed/outraged if it were spa been cancelled/reinstated & not the sakhir circuit?


I think if the Belgian (your example) government was violently repressing its citizens with the aid of troops from another country I think that the prospect of holding any international event would be remote.

The fact that this is being even contemplated shows a complete lack of understanding of the need to support these opportunities for democracy to take root - to remove unaccountable elites and ensure more openness and transparency in all kinds of societies .

This decision by F1 shows utter contempt for those who have been killed, tortured and imprisoned in their effort for greater democracy ( yes I do believe that).

The crowd running F1 have some similarities to the Baharain authorities and like FIFA think they are beyond the control of us, they are not open or accountable ( read Joe Saward for his attempts to trace who "owns F1) .

It makes me feel ignored, manipulated and robbed. But I am not threatened, beaten up or killed for my views unlike some in Baharain

I look at F1 in a different light today than I did yesterday. And it is not good. Cant wait to see the Saudi tanks ringing the circuit - assuming that the Baharaini Government would even allow those pictures to be broadcast.

I would call on all F1 journalists to do their job on this one and present the truth to the world about what is happening in Baharain


Judging by the overwhelming vote against this decision in the poll and the many promises to not watch in the above comments, not only is this not a good decision on moral grounds but may be a bad decision on business grounds. Does F1 want a black eye such as the negative publicity that holding a race in Bahrain has the potential to give it?


This is wrong! I wrote on the last forum about this that I thought it was disrespectful to the India authorities and I still think it is. I think this is a sad day in the history of F1.


Newsflash: Zimbabwe GP added to 2011 F1 Championship, December 24-26.


I don't think it was the right decision but at the same time I'm glad the GPs been rescheduled as it puts another 25 points up for grabs in the RBR chase.


Once again, it is money over principle and moral values. This world is going to hell, no doubt about it.


Great NOT!!! Save my hard earned money to leave Perth(Aus)for holiday in India to watch GP and return via Abu Dhabi for GP. So now told India in December. Plan a year in advance , wait for season to be confirmed, book flights, holiday. And Bernie changes his mind.Seems TV money much bigger than me. just an honest fan who spends good money to try and catch a GP once a year.

PS. James always good to see you on 'One' each GP.


I suspect a lot of f1 fans have done the same. Booked non refundable flights early. What a disgrace. Perhaps Bernie will book you new flights out of his own pocket.


Teams don't want it and isn't in the best interests of anyone but the FIA and Bernie to make money.

The running of F1 is now a joke. No one is laughing

CJ the 2cnd, probably...

I have read all the above and I'm deafened by the sound of a stampede onto a bandwagon. How many of the morally outraged 'disgusted of Tunbridge Wells' types were actively involved in promoting human rights in Bahrain prior to this announcement? (Whilst ignoring similar abuses elsewhwere). As someone above rightly said, F1 is not the UN, its not a campaigning organisation. I'm not a fan of the Bahrain administration either but to me its a matter of where we draw the lines. How long would it be until Silverstone was cancelled because the Lib-dems held a parliamentary majority for example? (Well obviously eternity, but hopefully the point is clear!).


You're all against in support of the people of Bahrain correct? Why don't you see what do the Bahrainis want? If you paid attention on twitter you would have realized from the #BahrainWantsF1 #BahrainWelcomesF1 #BahrainF1isBack hashtags that Bahrainis actually want F1! In fact I've never seen this much hype about the GP before! They are all doing this for their country, they want to move on, they want to progress..

The country ended the state of national security and are now going to start the long awaited national dialogue on July 1st. Give them your support! Encourage them to reconcile and rebuild what they have lost. The GP will do just that. It is actually great for F1's image not the opposite.


Check out this eye opening article to know what Bahrainis think about this and how much the GP benefits them http://bit.ly/lJdM4u


I find Mr Ecclestone's claim that this decision has nothing to do with money, a bit questionable.

Anyway, this whole situation reminds me his comments from the past about the dictatorships, which get the things done.


Boycott this Grand Prix. If no one watches it will cost Bernie money. If you see an advert for the Grand Prix click on it as it will cost them money. But never buy a ticket, watch the race or have anything to do this event. Write to sponsors tell them you will not buy there products if they support this event. If money makes the world go round. The only way we can help the people of Bahrain is to take money from those who are oppressing them!!!


What about the other organisations that the government has commercial links with? Do you advocate a boycott on the purchase and wearing of official merchandise of such organisations?


You can take it as far as you want. I'm no MacLaren fan anyway.


Has to do very much with money, it cannot be 'human rights'.

Is it possible all teams vote for a boycott.

James, what are the penalties for the teams due to the contractual agreement?


I don't know the exact penalty under the Concorde Agreement for missing a race but it will be significant

Peter Freeman

Sebee this government shot and killed its own unarmed citizens this year for asking for human rights and democracy. Their bodies are still fresh in the ground!

I think a little sensitivity and respect for them is due, even if other wrongs happen elsewhere in the world...

Or do you really think that because other countries do wrong's too, these people don't count in their own land?

F1 is not just a 'sport' and a 'show' in this country, their own people don't see it that way, NONE of them do, especially the families of the dead, have a heart...


So do the Chinese holding razzias every day, where is the outcry over the Chinese GP?

Peter Freeman

I had to look that up!

razzia [ˈræzɪə]

n pl -zias

(Historical Terms) History a raid for plunder or slaves, esp one carried out by Moors in North Africa

[from French, from Arabic ghaziah war]

Really? I did not know the Chinese were doing this...

But either way what you are saying is that because evil exists elsewhere, it is fine for evil to happen in Bahrain, never mind the dead democracy seekers, its all fine let's race!

I for one can not agree with you.


What are the reasons given for trying to fit the race into an already packed schedule?

I think they had their slot, but weren't able to put a safe GP on, so they can now wait till next year and have another go.

Don't really understand this determination to hold the race this year, unless of course there are legal obligations etc.

Why so keen? Anyone?


Sorry, just had another idea.

F1 managers need to pass some sort of "fit and proper" person test to be accredited nowadays don't they?

Why not implement "fit and proper" destination criteria?

Not sure how many current destinations would get in.


Yes a good idea. But who makes that decision, God?


I know of one "traditional country" which certainly would not qualify.


I suppose it was inevitable given the money involved. Too bad for all the people who will be inconvenienced and put at risk by this decision. Hopefully the extra time will enable India to put on an even better show over Christmas 😉

The championship looks like being over well before then anyway.


The only thing an individual can do is not watch the race.


Or talk about it. That's two things.

Dave the chef

Hi James,

Yet another sad and embarrassing day to be associated with F1 morality.

Travel Summary by UK foreign office to NORMAL people

•Our assessment remains that travel on the main routes on the island during daylight hours is orderly and has now returned to normal levels. Police checkpoints remain but have been reduced around the main highways. You should exercise caution in particular on any routes you use to get to these main routes, and consider carefully the situation in your local vicinity.

•We have had no recently confirmed reports of serious security incidents, but the risk of outbreaks of violence is ongoing and the security situation remains uncertain.

•The Government of Bahrain has imposed a curfew on the waterways around Bahrain between 18:00 and 04:00. You are strongly advised to respect the curfew.

There is a general threat from terrorism in Bahrain. Terrorists continue to issue statements threatening to carry out attacks in the Gulf region. These include references to attacks on western interests, including residential compounds, military, oil, transport and aviation interests.

And people complain about Brazil!!!!!!


FYI, of the 26 members of the WMSC, one is a member of the Bahrain royal family — Abdullah Bin Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, the second son of the present King of Bahrain.

How convenient. No prizes for guessing which way he voted.

With any other properly governed body (particularly a voluntary one, such as the FIA) this would have seen as a clear conflict of interest and he would have recused himself from voting. However, this was clearly not thought necessary with the FIA. Another black mark against Todt.

This whole thing gets more and more undignified and disgraceful, with the brown stuff really beginning to take on a pungent smell around the FIA......


Wrong decision in my view. I'm not an expert on the political and social events ongoing in Bahrain but from what I've read the people do not want this race.

It's a purely financial decision. What's FOTA's position on this? The season is too long in my view I feel for the mechanics and their families, a season ending possibly in December is a joke. We all love F1 but this is a huge strain on the personnel.


James, if you don't want to travel to Bahrain, why don't you come and watch it in my place in Geneva? We'll have a few beers, some crisps and food, and invite some fellow F1 fans over.

You could do a piece on it - 'Watching F1 with the fans'


Very kind. Nowhere safer than Geneva!!


Is Bahrain going to be the first grand prix of 2012 in the first week of March?

After a Grand prix in October 2011?

If tourist dollars count, I'd say one of the two GPs might find attendance numbers to be a little soft


It´s a shame. Pictures have gone around the world where peaceful demonstrators been shot to death on the streets. A black day for Formula 1.


Peaceful protestors who had fully automatic guns, yeah.


What sort of comment is that? Many of the protestors are peaceful, sure some have guns but I'm sure you'd have a gun if you were going to march against that regime.


"Money talks or the circus walks"

I guess this time, money talked.


THIS SHOWS MONEY TALKSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS IN FORMULA 1. I feel sorry for those guys who work hard all years and they hardly have any holidays to spend their time with their family and friends.


For what it's worth, I agree with Bernie Ecclestone's view that, wherever possible, Formula One should avoid becoming involved in politics. That's not it's place.

However, I think we are already past that. Formula One is involved, albeit under duress. I think we can all agree that Bahrain's decision to ask for the GP back was politically motivated, so by extension F1's decision is politically motivated either way. Bahrain have forced them right into the middle of the political issue, and for the people in charge at the FIA and FOM it must be a very uncomfortable position.

With what is going on there, I would be moved to pull the race. But what effect would this decision have? Would it help the democracy cause? Would it save any lives? Would it cause more trouble? We all have opinions but most of us aren't there so it's very speculative.

I agree that logically the protesters would make themselves look bad if they attacked any international press at the event, but once you get a big crowd of very angry people together, logic quickly goes out the window. I think it will be very dangerous.



I'm intrigued by all the viewpoints here. I have a question, how is supporting the Chinese GP any different from supporting the Bahrain GP, given China's continuing dubious record of abuses of human rights?

If I feel bad about supporting the Bahrain GP surely I should boycott China's as well?


Asinine. We'll see if the teams (more to the point, the sponsors) will put their feet down for this.

Bernie and the FIA feel that the moral and political dimensions should be ignored, or at least don't have sufficient force to warrant canceling the race. But the sponsors surely understand that those two factors impact how THEY are perceived by customers and investors. By participating in this race, the sponsors risk enormous damage to corporate image and goodwill. Simply put, racing in Bahrain may be very bad for business.

That the FIA has satisfied itself after conducting an inspection tour is no reason for confidence in this decision. The FIA also conducted an inspection (inspections?) of the USF1 set-up. The collapse of that team (embarrassing both the team and the FIA to the point that some called for sanctions against USF1 for bringing the sport into disrepute), despite the FIA's initial confidence in its own assessment, means that the FIA must have

(a) gotten fooled by the team; or

(b) conducted an inadequate inspection; or

(c) conducted an insufficient number of inspections; or

(d) gotten caught out by changed circumstances at the last moment; or

(e) all of the above.

Does a government have greater resources with which to fool the FIA than USF1? Yes.

Isn't there more to inspect in and around an entire city, let alone a country, than the USF1 race shop? Yes.

Isn't it more difficult to frequently inspect an entire city, let alone an entire country, than the USF1 race shop? Yes.

Isn't it possible, with the population and infrastructure of an entire country involved - and not that of one small race team - for the situation to change at the last moment? Yes.

Isn't it possible that holding this race will bring the sport into disrepute?

Definitely yes.


It occurs to me that FOTA will have lots of questions to answer about this come their forum in Montreal next week. Talk about an opportunity of soundbites... The spinminders will be working overtime.

part time viewer

Have I missed something here? What has F1 got to do with what is happening in Bahrain?

What is going on there is awefull, but how will not racing there help?

Where as racing there might by hi lighting the situation there.

Steve Selasky

I liked the sport when it had money coming from unsavory sponsor's product. However, I find it ironic that product (which we have a choice) can no longer sponsor F1 but we can have races from government that are repressive.

Go figure....


Absolute joke. Makes FIFA looks positively moral.


Don't blame Bernie.

I'll bet that all the F1 contracts have a non-performance clause in them. With heavy penalties to F1 if they don't show up.

He has a legal obligation to the stockholders to not lose a billion dollar lawsuit. If he can set it up so that the *organizers have to call it off then there's no blame attached to F1.

Besides, I'll bet the protesters are loving all the extra media attention F1 has brought to their cause.

*We are all talking about it, aren't we?

You couldn't *buy this amount of publicity.

And btw just for the record I voted *against having the race. Just not for the silly, hysterical moral outrage high-horse reasons many of you espouse.

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