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Politicians in UK call for Bahrain GP to be called off
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Feb 2012   |  2:32 pm GMT  |  85 comments

A group of politicians from the British House of Parliament, especially the House of Lords, has written an open letter to the Times newspaper today calling for the FIA to cancel the forthcoming Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled for April 22nd.

Last year’s race had to be cancelled due to political uprisings in the country and attempts by the FIA and F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone to reinstate the race later in the season were thwarted by the teams refusing to go.

The FIA’s rules state that if an event is called off within three months of taking place it cannot appear on the following year’s calendar and we are already passed that cut off point. The exception is a case of force majeure, but as the race has been on/off for 12 months it’s not easy to see how that might apply here.

At the same time there are other political winds which threaten the country, with escalating tension between Israel and Iran over the latter’s developing nuclear weapons capability. Middle East experts are now saying that a strike by Israel on Iran’s nuclear facilities is growing in likelihood and if that were to happen this Spring, Iran’s most likely first response would be to attack US military installations in Bahrain.

Whether the race happens or not will all come down to insurance. If the people and the cars, the TV companies and the F1 circus can be insured then the event is likely to take place.

At this stage the F1 teams are planning for it to be on and the personnel are still leaving it to the FIA to judge whether to hold the race or not. What will be decisive here, among other things, will be the UK Foreign office Travel Advice. If that were to switch to “Do not travel to Bahrain” then insurances would not be valid and the teams and others would decline to go.

There has been no official reaction so far today to the letter, but last month Bernie Ecclestone told an Austrian newspaper, “Everyone talks a lot about this part of the world, but Bahrain is the country in the region where there are the fewest problems,”

Before Christmas the FIA sent a delegation to visit Bahrain, with FIA president Jean Todt, Damon Hill and other officials checking out the situation. It is a very complex situation and a difficult one for the FIA to rule on as siding either way leads to controversy.

For the record the key points of the politicians’ letter today were:

“We note with concern the decision by Formula 1 to go ahead with the race in Bahrain scheduled for April.

“The continued political crisis in Bahrain is a troubling source of instability in the Gulf region, and the lack of any move towards political reconciliation concerns those who wish to see Bahrain move in the direction of greater democratic accountability.”

After explaining that they had hoped the outcome of the would have helped calm the situation, they said that in fact the opposite had happened.

“Two months on [from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI)] we see an entrenchment of the positions of both sides which risks letting more extreme voices dictate the progress of the conflict. Given the current dire situation, with daily street protests and the deaths of more civilians, we do not believe that the time is right for Formula 1 to return to Bahrain.

“Bahrain is a major trading hub and financial centre in the Middle East but this brings greater responsibility. Human rights and economic stability go hand in hand and the government of Bahrain must do more to persuade international events and corporations that Bahrain is a stable place to do business.

“Until it takes concerted measures to reform the electoral, penal and judicial processes, international observers as well as ordinary Bahrainis can have little confidence that Bahrain is on the path to reform and political stability.

We urge the FIA to reconsider its decision to continue with the race.”

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To be honest I wouldn’t miss the Bahrain GP, it is by far one the most boring on the calendar, especially after the changes to the track in 2009 or 2010. The fact that the country still is in a mess should really show Bernie the reason for not going, aswell as the GP not being a favourite among the drivers.

It should not take place.


Well no, i can tell you that the majority of Bahrainies (60%+) want a simple thing: a constitutional monarchy. But since the majority of Bahrain are shiites, the same religion sect as Iran and different to that of the royal family and other gcc countries, they are concerned about more influence of Iran in the region.

I agree sports and politecs must never mix and exactly thats why i think formula1 should never go there this year. Government will use the venue to declare the situation as stable and protesters will use it as a safe place to protest cuz the government cant be harsh infront of all the media.


The main problem, really, is that the race is a showpiece of the Bahraini government and to have it is a tacit approval both of the regime and its brutal methods. In this case, you cannot separate politics from sports. They are one and the same.


I am frankly a little shocked at such comments regarding stopping the race with little to no research other then what the media has decided to inform the masses.

I will start off by saying this “no news is good news” … What i mean by this is that if Bahrain was a peaceful nation, or that the royal family was able to police these demonstrations properly then we would not be hearing about it.

But lets take a quick look at the recent riots which will hit home with a lot of United Kingdom residents at least. The media reported such events a lot worse then what they were, focusing on minor pockets which looked bad. A couple of friends in America were frightened for my life when in reality my day to day tasks carried on as normal. We all know the cause of those riots despite what is being portrayed, an excuse for the bad people of our society to run riot for a couple of days.

What makes you think that Bahrain is any different, because the methods are more extreme? Take a look at the eye witness accounts, one of which was on the comments section when the banning of the GP was previously mentioned. The party whom is demonstrating in his words are “Right wing” and that the general Bahrainy (Is that right?) population actually support the royal family in power. In his own words the political group know how the western media works and are using it to pull on the sympathy strings of what appears to be the majority on this comments section.

Politics has no place in sport, and whilst the sport we follow is more business then sport sometimes, it should not have an impact on if they should go there or not, would we ban the Bahrainy soccer team from competing because of the events taking place?

If the teams are at risk, security is lax, or if insurance does not cover the risks they are taking, then these i would consider viable reasons. But because some people are demonstrating which you nor I know the full story behind, i don’t consider a valid reason to stop sport, aid maybe, sport no.


Ok, let me say this. I’m from Saudi Arabia, and I live roughly 20 miles from Bahrain. I used to go there on a monthly bases but once this thing started I stopped going there cuz the government use my money to purchase stuff including weapons. Bahrain is a small state that relies completely on touresim and things like Formula1.

I think it is wrong for Formula1 to go there, human rights status in China and Russia is bad but as far as I know none invites other military personnel from naighbouring countries to kill and harm un-armed and peaceful protests.


Now thats a Candid Vision…. I have full support on your opinion.

btw China had once used its tanks to practice target on its own people. But thats 70s, so less ppl have forgotten about it.


I agree that the Bahrain GP should be cancelled but it is NOT up to the politicians to call for its cancellation. Politicians should keep their noses well out of sports.


Quick off topic question James does a country like Bahrain pay extra to be the 1st grand prix of the season? Clearly it is great as all eyes of the world are on you so put on a good show and it goes down well.


It’s very obvious they should cancel Bahrain before something nasty really happens during the race weekend. If I’m one of the racers my concentration will not be on the track, for sure.


With respect to the Israel/Iran conflict; an Iranian strike against US assets in Bahrain is extremely unlikely; Firstly, Iran does not have sufficient force projection capability for any sort of assault beyond an airstrike attempt. This of course would not be advisable due to the current strength both in Bahrain proper as well as the US Navy 5th fleet in the gulf, which includes two Nimitz Class Supercarriers (CVN-70 Carl Vinson and CVN-72 Abraham Lincon). The presence of the 5th Fleet also precludes any sort of action to attempt to blockade the Strait of Hormuz.

Secondly, if Iran were to do either of the above (blockade the Strait or attack Bahrain) it would guarantee that NATO would be involved, not just the United States due to several treaty agreements with other member Nations, including the UK.

In summary, Iran is far more likely to go after Israel directly, as they have nothing to gain and everything to lose from going after the US, in the event that Israel does take action against their nuclear sites.


Landon – of course Iran would not *choose* to attack the US, but it seems the US is bent on war regardless (just as it was with Iraq). At some point, the US will either attack Iran, or will be on the verge of doing so… and then Iran really has nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting in the first strike.

As we’ve seen in both Iran and Afghanistan, the US is only really able to fight successful campaigns on its own terms. If the enemy refuse to follow the game plan, things can turn out rather poorly. I am fairly sure the Iranians have noted this too.

They may also have read this:


Funny how the “debacle” in Iraq resulted in the removal of one of the most violent and brutal regimes of the last 50 years. And Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard and the Iraq Army lasted three weeks. Iran isn’t going to do any better. There’s a little fact people forget about the Iraq war; from the moment allied forces crossed the border to when they raised their flags on Baghdad it was 21 days.

300 miles through some of toughest terrain on earth against the world’s 5th largest army in 21 days, and the US didn’t even commit the 4th I.D. Anybody that thinks Iran stands a chance (the Iranian government included) needs to go watch that footage of Saddam being pulled out of the hole.


Sorry Andy, I didn’t mean to discredit all of the good that has come from the Iraq mission, however it is largely viewed in North America as having been waged on poor intelligence in the best case, or at worst on outright lies. (see WMD)

Notwithstanding that yes, we did get rid of a terrible dictator, it remains to be seen if the price paid was too high.

As to your other point, I don’t believe iran’s military will fold quite as quickly as Iraq’s did, but let us not forget that the US excels at complete military dominance- it’s what comes after that they have trouble with.


Get real. Mao’s Cultural Revolution killed 20 million people. Every war, every invasion, every military action or act of congress of the United States for the last 50 years doesn’t even ad up to 10% of that.

And then you have this little thing called the Soviet Union. Maybe you’ve forgotten. Must be hard living in that little anarchist bubble of yours.


The most brutal and violent regimes of the last 50 years is the US goverment.

How many wars? How much torture?


Actually, it is a direct result of that challenge that the US has recently changed how they deploy their supercarriers with respect to other surface combatants, the old strategy of ‘carrier battlegroups’ is being phased out. Remember, the US has had 10 years to learn from that exercise and the specifics of it; While the other brass may make face saving comments at the time I would bet you cash that they took a long hard look at the facts after the politics of the situation had blown over.

I doubt the US is looking for a war with Iran either; the majority of the US is not in favor of it, considering the Iraq debacle. The problem is that there is continued sabre-rattling coming from Iran.

This is due to a multitude of reasons, but the most likely reason is if the Leadership of Iran can point to problems outside the country (i.e. the US) they keep their citizens from worrying about problems at home; thereby avoiding an ‘Iranian spring’ type situation, which would probably not end well. Recall the protests which saw a minor uprising last year in Iran? Expect more of the same if there is no threat of conflict with Israel or the US.


Landon you must be military strategest! No?!? Been playing ‘Call of Duty’ long enough to work it all out?


You should have planned the Iraq war and the Afghan war also. We would have enjoyed success with your military planning.

Iran is ‘not’ a weak country and this won’t be as you think. We will all be in very big trouble if this warring continues unabated.

If Iran is attacked ‘yes’ Isreal will be threatened and so will all those Bahrain US military bases.

This will be a fight like no other. I hope that we do not see this happen.


You earlier suggested that others use Google and yet when they do (to assess the military capabilities in the region) you accuse them of being childish arm chair generals presumably because their opinion does not match yours. Enough.

For what it’s worth, Landon’s assessment is correct, I’d also add that the US has a third flat top in the region that it can call upon.

No credible voices are suggesting an invasion of Iran would ever be on the cards however with the arsenal at their disposal the Iranian military in the southern region of the country would be obliterated within days of a conflict starting.

However it will never come to that. Iran’s posturing has been entierly for domestic consumption. If Iran is concerned about losing 10% of it’s exports as a result of the European embargo, they are hardly then going to deliberately close off the other 90% by closing the Strait.

The Iranian issue will almost certainly be resolved diplomatically however diplomacy in these cases is certainly aided by having an enormous advanced military machine as back up.


I have noticed that Mr. “Hill” is one of those armchair revolutionaries I used to argue with when I believed people can change their minds due to civil debate. Now, being older and wiser I know that people like that are highly unreasonable, and you might as well argue with a propaganda officer, for you will get the same result.


I don’t know of too many people who missed Bahrain being on the calendar. Show of hands. Anyone? That’s what I thought. Kill the race. It sucks.


If you seriously want to change things there, then you go race there.

There’s nothing like some big sports circus coming to town to shine a huge spotlight on things.

Media ppl from all over the world would be there to expose whatever.

You can’t seriously say you want to change things and then ignore them.


I can’t believe this discussion is even taking place.

It is an unstable place that nobody in their right minds would travel to. On those terms it’s almost as bad as Italy.


Amazing that the UK MPs can take this stand against Bahrain and yet there are lots of nations that suppress it’s people too like China, the UK & US (mainly by the financial institutions & the PC police in the latter two cases)

This is just a covert mission to carry out regime change by the UK i.e. You either hand over power to people we like (that will sell us gas or oil at a discount) or else no more F1 in other words this is F1 democracy.

Anyway this problem will be solved by Israel for according to the latest estimates, Israel plans to nuke Iran in April. So I don’t see F1 venturing into the middle east area for decades to come maybe even EVER.


Yes Iran is getting bombed for sure, it’s even mentioned in the Bible.


If it’s in the Bible it must be true…..


Well that tears it. We are officially […]’d when professional politicians start running F1.


Oh yeah and we’re not […]’d when professional suits run it? Get real.


Safety first… anyways its not a great circuit that would be missed if cancelled… If Spa however was cancelled… en’ yes it would’ve had a huge setback to formula one.


So if the UK government isn’t sufficiently convinced come April 22, the teams won’t travel?


If Foreign Office advice is don’t travel there, then there is a question mark over insurance


James, can Magny Cours be ready to host the race instead? is that feasible? or even Jerez?


this race has always been about the vanity of bahraini royals, not an actual desire of its people.

it should be dropped for good.


I agree, this race should be cancelled.

James, how about a poll?


It should not be held and the teams should speak up.


Mark Webber spoke up last year, only driver to do so. I wonder if he will do so again.


I hope so and I hope he doesn’t go!

I would respect the Teams and Drivers if they spoke up and said they wouldn’t go to Bahrain due to the civil unrest.


Iran doesnt have a nucular weapon, nor are they developing them. Unlike isreal who have.

Why are non western countries not allowed cheap nucular energy?


I am sorry but nuclear energy doesn’t qualify as “cheap”, there is not a single one nuclear plant running in the world that hasn’t received big state subsidies.


As opposed to green industries? How much money must be wasted each year on inefficient solar panels, and laughably inefficient, ugly, expensive, wildlife killing windfarms?

The truth is, nuclear power is profitable, green tech isn’t.


“Nuclear power and free market are at odds.”

But spending billions of our money on an expensive and unreliable industry is a-ok! Let’s focus on unreliable a second, whereas a nuclear power plant will work in the extreme cold or warmth, with or without clouds, with no wind or very high wind… you know where I’m going with this, right?

I take it you’re one of the global warming types. How can you be against the only energy type that does not hurt the environment? (handled correctly)

The green industry only exists because of incentives to build them (subsidies), the “need” for them [carbon dioxide kills polar bears], and the incentives to use them despite their relative uncompetitvness (carbon pricing, carbon reduction [polar bear saving] treaties, and again subsidies).


I dare you to back your claim with some data. I gave you some: no nuclear power plant is running today without government subsidies. Nuclear power and free market are at odds.


The same was said about N. Korea. Please do not be naive. Having a nuclear weapon basically means having a level of immunity nothing else can give you in this world. Of course making nuclear weapons is Iran’s priority.

The biggest problem countries like Iran pose is seen in their rhetoric. Iran’s political and overall (and spiritual) leader have repeatedly stated their wish for destruction of another country.

The cold war is thankfully behind us, and it’s our duty to do whatever we can not to have to deal with something like that again, especially when now the motivation is hate rather than distrust and difference in opinion.


There is no such thing as cheap Nuclear energy when you are in a country where oil squirts out of the ground!!!!


They are, provided they adhere to the existing UN Non-proliferation treaties.

The cheapest Nuclear energy is not what Iran is pursuing though; they are specifically building reactor types that will be able to enrich unranium into plutonium for weapons production. In fact, it’s usually much MORE expensive to fuel those reactor types than the ‘non-enriching’ types, hence why most of the world balks at the Iranian claims that they are using their reactors for only energy generation.


Iran are not pursuing any aims of building a Nuculear device. This is just the usual scaremongering prior to the US waging another war on a false pretence. Just like Irag (no WMD’s), just like Afghanistan (no hi-jacker was a Afghan they were mostly Saudi’s).

I find is hypocritical that the only nation to use a Nuclear weapon (with massive loss of civilian life) ie the US on Japan, now claim the moral authority on all other nation states.

Iran has a right to build reactors as it see’s fit, as we do.

This is just another excuse..


Wow.. your powers of deduction are AMAZING! Been watching Sherlock Holmes?

By this logic we could prosecute most nation states! By the Landon logic theory!

Please also don’t use the word ‘fact’ when you really mean; ‘by my powers of deduction’

Didn’t Tom Cruise do a film on this subject?


“Iran are not pursuing any aims of building a Nuculear device.”

Then why go to the trouble of using MORE expensive reactors requiring MORE expensive fuel; unless they are attempting to produce Weapons-grade material?

Right now there are several low-cost and low-danger reactor types that can be made, but they specifically preclude the generation of weapons-grade material, such as the ABWR or the CANDU reactor types; the latter of which can use NATURAL uranium, rather than enriched fuel- they would not even need the hardened(!) enrichment site at Natanz if they decided to use CANDU reactor types.

All signs point to Iran wanting weapons, this is a fact. If they were not, then almost none of their decisions with regard to nuclear power make sense.


Iran is SURROUNDED by US-friendly nuclear powers.


Edited from an article in The Guardian by Mehdi Hasan, political editor at The New Statesman:

On the eastern border, the United States has 100,000 troops serving in Afghanistan. On the western border, the US has been occupying Iraq since 2003 and plans to retain a small force of military contractors and CIA operatives even after its official withdrawal. Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation, is to the south-east; Turkey, America’s Nato ally, to the north-west; Turkmenistan, which has acted as a refuelling base for US military transport planes since 2002, to the north-east. To the south, across the Persian Gulf, a cluster of US client states: Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet; Qatar, host to a forward headquarters of US Central Command; Saudi Arabia, whose king has exhorted America to “attack Iran” and “cut off the head of the snake”.

Then, less than a thousand miles to the west, there is Israel, in possession of over a hundred nuclear warheads and with a history of pre-emptive aggression against its opponents.

The map makes it clear: Iran is, literally, encircled by the United States and its allies.


LOL “Surrounded?” They are surrounded by the Israelis? lmao

Better call Rand McNally and get a new map!


Err… you mean the former Soviet countries, China and Pakistan?

They are not friendly to the US, they are competitors to the US and have links with Iran.

Iran are hardly surrounded by Isreal are they?


Ppl that signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty are not allowed to spread bombs around.

Thats everybody except India, Pakistan, and Israel. The Norks signed it then dropped out.

All the Iranians have to do is to let the UN Inspectors check it out completely.

But they won’t, either because they *are building them, or because they want to “do a Sadam” and make ppl *think they have them.


In retrospect, Saddam’s insistance on having WMDs was probably a bad idea…


UN inspectors – Hans Blix and co said that Iraq had NO WMD’s. Sadam ‘never’ pretended to have a Nuclear device.

They were still attacked despite the eveidence and protests. Lets not kid ourselves.

The US went to Iraq for oil and they got it.

The CIA have stated that Iran have no weapon cpability (google is your pal) the politicians are trying to ignore it.

Iran is not a weak country like Iraq (sanctions and war)or Afghanistan (those goat farmers have controlled the war despite our drones)> Body counts dont make a war won and we have failed to control those countires on the ground.

Iran will hurt US badly and draw the surrounding countries into war by destabilising the region. This is no longer a a turkey shoot.

Iran are pursuing their right to energy and are supported by Russia and China. Iran have support in South America also. The middle east is looking to be free from Western hedgemony hence the issues in Bahrain.

Lets stop waging war and start waging peace and equality and then we can all be safe and watch F1 without these distractions.


No one has said Iran has capabilities, but they also have secret nuclear facilities dedicated to enriching uranium, have thrown out the independant inspectors when they critisised the regime for holding back.

They also have capable missles too. Forget Scuds, they have tested recently missles which fly under radar, meaning patriot missles cannot destroy them.

Add all of these things, how can you not see what’s going on?

As for the Iraq thing, Blix might have said that, but he also said Saddam was thwarting his team at every oppertunity to hide things from him (turns out those were chem labs for making chemical weapons). It was never 100% sure what Saddam had, and Saddam boasting he has the weapons despite him destroying them in secret earlier did not help Bush and Blair avoid war.

Given the fact everyone knew he had WMDs, and he used it on his own populace, and threatened the world with them, it would be wholly irresponsible not to carry out action against his regime.

Hans Blix was an inspector, not a world leader, nor a policy maker. His role in the whole decision making was always going to be a small one, something he should have accepted a long time ago.

As for current events, I believe in peace, but there never will be peace when regimes like Assad’s, Ahmadinijad’s, (or Saddam’s for that matter) are allowed to exist. You can’t have an omlette without breaking eggs. I think it’s about time we get things over with and finish off those regimes so we can get back to having peace. Syrians are calling out for help, and they are getting some of it from Quatar and Turkey. It’s about time the west joined in and overthrow a ruthless leader who’d rather murder his people than give up power.

Iranians yearn for freedom too. They started off the waves of protests back in 2010, which were brutally put down. Since then, there was one more protest, after which all its leaders were executed.

It’s all very well having a peaceful world when many do not enjoy the same kind of freedoms you do. Iranians aren’t free, neither are Syrians North Koreans, or even the Chinese. Because you have always experienced freedom, you do not know what it means exactly and take it for granted. You are now allowed to critisise on a public forum past and present governements, excersising your right to voice an opinion. These people that live in such countries will never have that oppertunity untill there is a regime change. It is always an uphill battle when civillians fight against armored vehicles. They will always need some kind of intervention to succeed.


This is madness. There’s a war about to start and some people are worried about a damn race, excuse my language.

If this race happens, at best it will be odd and not enjoyable.




you’re probably right. But it’s so difficult to accept anything our politicians say and keep an easy conscience …


What war?


Has there been any official response or comment from the FIA, teams, or Bernie?


Political grandstanding in the papers doesn’t really merit an “official response” from anyone.


I wonder why politicians want to poke their nose into F1. If at all they wanted to interfere with sports, then they should have got the government to give some money to Silverstone when it was really needed.


Because setting foreign policy is the government’s job. Subsidising a privately owned racetrack (and ultimately making Bernie richer) is not.


Because it’s their job to set policy for everything their country and its businesses do.


I hope the FIA listens and acts in line with the politicians’ request and cancels the Bahrain race.


Do these guys want to be re-elected?

Stay out of F1 politicians. You have better things to worry about. I’m not going to have a month long hole start of the season!


Heaven forbid you will have to find something else to do for a weekend.

Even leaving aside the rather large political and saftey issues, that level of self centredness is rather astounding.


You just made me notice that it’s actually 5 weeks in August. You’re right – I am going to have to find something else to do.


Yes, F1 is not self centered at all either. I guess we found each other. F1 and I – a match made in heaven.

I’m already going to be itching all of August, I clearly decline the offer of two 4 weeks breaks in a season.


from what james says most wont care as they are peers


All bar one of them sits in the House of Lords, so they’re not elected.

The issues here are far greater, much more important than you having ‘a month long hole start of the season.’


…They’re Lords, they don’t get elected. Whilst there is going to be an element of party politics, the House of Lords is set up with supposedly equal representation for the main parties.

Having said that, The House of Lords function is meant to be purely legislative, in other words they put into practice the policies of the lower house. They pretty much work in the interest of country at all times, making sure that those broad brush policies of the House of Commons can actually work and not bring the country to a halt. For them to be so vocal in opposition of something is extremely rare and should not be taken lightly, whatever you might think of politicians.


Well that’s just lovely. You made me do a quick read up on it – appointed and birthright politician sticking their nose into F1. What, not enough to do on the economy, banks, youth jobs?

Honestly, with all due respect to the rookie F1 fans, those of us who are seasoned enough know what’s going on. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Bring on Bahrain ’12 – enough of this rightiousness from outsiders. Let Bahrainies work out their own issues and use F1 for their cause – good or bad.

Is that a runway on the back stretch of the track? I guess there will be no trouble getting the hardware in or out with ease. I’m entirely OK if this event is covered only by FOM feed, with no other media on site. Keep it tight and light and don’t make me wait longer than 3 weeks for a race – I get withdrawl symptoms.


” NOT use F1 for their cause”

Why am I rushing?

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