Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Bahrain, 2010

Ecclestone concerned by protest threat to Bahrain Grand Prix

2011 Bahrain Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Bahrain, 2010
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Bahrain, 2010

Bernie Ecclestone says he is keeping a close eye on reports that the Bahrain Grand Prix is being threatened by protesters.

Two people have been killed in clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces.

Arabian Business quoted the vice president of Bahrain’s Center for Human Rights saying: “For sure F1 is not going to be peaceful this time.

??[There will] be lots of journalists, a lot of people looking and [the government] will react in a stupid manner as they did today and yesterday. And that will be bloody but will be more publicised.??

Bernie Ecclestone admitted his concerns over the race in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, saying: “The danger is obvious isn?t it?

“If these people wanted to make a fuss and get worldwide recognition it would be bloody easy, wouldn?t it? You start making a problem on the start grid in Bahrain and it would get worldwide coverage.”

Practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix starts on Friday 11th March. Prior to that the teams are due to test there on March 3rd-6th. The GP2 Asia series is scheduled to race there on Friday and Saturday

If you’re planning to go to this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix you can find other F1 fans who are here:

Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images

96 comments on “Ecclestone concerned by protest threat to Bahrain Grand Prix”

  1. I hope this isn’t a threat to this years race or the long term future for Bahrain. Is the solution a race behind closed doors? With Australia’s future in doubt and now this hopefully we can get more classic European tracks back on the calendar. Although without the investment this could be tricky. No country would risk another Donington!

    1. Well tbh, the prince is all very nice on telly but if he’s people want freedom it’s them who’ll have my sympathy.

      Anyways, Aus is a fantastic track, the sort of track F1 itself should consider it within it’s interest to keep. An Australia is a wealthy, if not massive market. Bet Ferrari and Merc do well, Redbull will also want to keep that market and in the words of Jaques Villenurve.

      “Some tracks are always boring and some tracks are always exciting”

      I’d put Aus in the second category, an when F1 finds such a track, it should work to keep it, not irritaite the locals till we loose it.

      1. Agree. Australia holds a fascinating event, and provides excellent racing.

      2. Agreed on all points. My sympathies will always lie with citizens striving for more democracy, even if it’s to the temporary detriment of my favorite sport.

  2. Personally I’m disappointed that this unrest has affected the GP, because I was thinking of going to watch the race going! I haven’t got a ticket yet, but I’m definitely going to be putting the purchase on hold now. But on the other hand, if you were group of disgruntled citizens this is pretty much the perfect platform to air your grievances.

    As a resident of the MENA region, i have to say i’m surprised this sort of thing is kicking off in Bahrain.

    1. Epic sentence structure fail from me there, thats the problem of posting in a rush at work…

    2. I love the way the most of the comments on this site are directed at the irritation of the protests to their travel and holiday plans. Bernie himself calls them ‘people making trouble’

      its ridiculous, there should be some of the press actually commenting on the autocratic regime and that if the people are protesting for greater freedoms and rights, that they should be supported, not that it is a great pain to some sports event.

      I hope that they do protest, and I hope that the F1 journalists report it in s fair and proper manner. If dome properly, the protests could result in moves towards a system of government that the people in Bahrain would be happier with, and that is more important then our GP.

      Especially as Bahrain is a pretty S**t track and the season start should be in Melbourne.

      1. See my comment below…

      2. Totally agreed.

  3. Maybe just change the order, back to yas marina so peoples travel plans are not too disturbed!

  4. F1 should not be legitimizing regimes that do not hold free and fair elections. Same goes for many other companies.

    It’s the year 2011 and far too many countries are being run by people whose only claim to power is an accident of birth.

    1. It’s a good rule of thumb that would send Bahrain, China, Singapore and Abu Dhabi down the drain.

    2. And who do you think you are forcing your self-proclaimed “better” regime?

      1. How could I possibly force anything? A shaky democracy is still hundreds of times “better” than living your life under the rule of some man who believes he has a God given right to rule just because he was born into the right family.

        Yes I don’t think F1 should be in China, Singapore or Abu Dhabi either.

        1. So get the funds to put F1 in countries you see fit. Bernie doesn’t care about where the races are so long as the money is. That’s his job, plain and simple.

          Technically, it’s UAE and not Abu Dhabi unless you’d be cool with having the race in Dubai.

          Is a shaky democracy better? As crappy as Iraq was under Saddam, it was a lot more stable than a democratic Iraq. It will be interesting to see how Egypt plays out short term as well as long term in comparison to Iraq. We could debate this but it’s clearly off-topic.

          1. A corrupt democracy is still no better than an authoritarian ruler. Many countries that have switched to democracy have just descended into corrupt states

    3. F1 is a sport and should not be used for political purposes.

      1. haha so what on earth do you think it does in those countire at the moment?!

        China, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain; they are all there for political reasons. If the state and the government is useing the sport for political reasons, why should the protesters not?!

        1. F1 is used in the countries you mentioned for promotional purposes. It enhances the reputation of these places in the eyes of the west and encourages foreign investment. This is not political, this is for the general good of the people. F1 should not be used as a tool for one political party or group (in this case the protesting Shiites) in their internal battles for ruling power.

          1. It can’t be for the general good of the people if they don’t see any of the money that F1 is suppose to help their country make.

          2. MagillaGorilla
            16th February 2011, 16:15

            Yes because it makes more sense for a Self-Proclaimed socialist leader to back a whole team with its state owned Oil Company, but also plaster Venezuela on the rear wing of the car. Yet, instead of backing an F1 team they could be helping promote their country in a better way and their citizens instead of sending money to a sport…I don’t really see any promotional reasons accept monetary for the leaders of those countries and the State backed companies in them.

  5. Well I am sure that Imola/Aragon/Portimao/many others would be happy to jump in and hold the race at short notice!
    Or even better, cancel the race and never go back to the boring desert where nobody cares!
    Same with Turkey, China and Abu Dhabi!
    After reading how much the tickets are to the Malaysian GP this year it made me sick! £7 for general admission!!
    Just imagine if the silverstone tickets were between £10 and £100, and they put temp grandstands up all over the circuit lining it everywhere. They would sell out and probably get an attendance of 250,000 to 400,000!!!!
    Just imagine the atmosphere! And the money that Bernie and the teams would make, as well as the spectacle.
    If F1 carries on with the price hike for tickets as it is considering the state of the worlds economy, we will end up with races in front of empty grandstands all year round ala turkey/china
    Rant over :)

    1. I agree with you on ticket prices for Silverstone, but can you imagine the traffic around silverstone with 400000 people there ;-)

      Its probably better margins with lower people and higher prices…

    2. The problem with an attendance of 400,000 at Silverstone is getting everyone in and out safely, especially in the event of a fire or other major problem. Quite sensibly, the BRDC has self-imposed a limit of 200,000 on the circuits capacity for safety and logistics reasons.

    3. Dude, for 7 pounds, you’d barely get anything in the Malaysian GP. There are some very very expensive tickets, ranging from 300++ Punds to 500++ pounds. Nevertheless, I’d always be more comfortable watching the race at home on TV than at the track – whatever the ticket price, even if that means free.

      1. TV has never done the sport any justice, after watching many a race live here in the UK and across Europe.
        I realise that the safety issue with Silvers having that many people there is massive, perhaps impossible as it currently stands, but I am just dreaming really. I have lots of thoughts about how the spectacle of F1 could actually be, and what needs to be done to improve on what we have.
        Its a shame that there is so much money within the sport, but none of it is spent to make the show better.

    4. As far as I know, Turkey still is a democracy. And as comment to further up, so is Malaysia. Singapore is what you would call an authoritarian democracy.

      But yeah, it’s not a bad idea to avoid Dictatorships when choosing where to race.

      1. Sepang has been on the map for a while now… its definitely one of my fav circuits. Those cheep tickets were for last months sale. If you can bare the heat those cheep tickets have one of the best views of the race, where you see 50% + of the circuit waaaay more than any of the expansive grandstands there.

  6. Imagine that, the preference to giving gp’s to the highest bidder is starting to bite Bernie in the butt! No… really? Unstable dictatorships being the locations of gp’s could never be a problem, right? Well, I guess it was fun while it lasted, maybe the negotiations next time will be a little more thoughtful and fair to classic venues and fantastic, pre-existing tracks in stable countries where the majority of the populance is at least moderatly happy with their lives, income, and security situation.

    1. + 1

      (comment too short)

    2. Well said, Spaulding.

  7. Practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix starts on Friday 11th March. Prior to that the teams are due to test there on March 3rd-6th.

    I still really don’t understand why they would ever hold a test session on a track one week before a race there. Way to make everyone over-prepared.

    1. The Middle East isn’t exactly starved for tracks either, nor are those tracks restricted to one layout.

      1. Correct, Dubai Autodrome has a “1T” rating from the FIA if I remember correctly, making it suitable for F1 testing.

    2. Isn’t it to cut travel costs?

  8. If these people wanted to make a fuss and get worldwide recognition it would be bloody easy, wouldn’t it?

    Oh dear. This makes me dispair of F1. Very easy for a nation to satisfy Bernie’s cash demands when it’s ruled by a tiny elite. Not so good when the people rise up and ‘make a fuss.’ F1 really does have a major image problem on the horizon: people versus huge corporations and anti-democratic regimes.

    1. well, Bernie said some time ago that Hitler wasn’t too bad, so this sentence for me is unsurprising at all.

      i hope that these protests will be a sort of ‘Fall of the Berlin Wall’ for North Africa and Middle East. it’s always good to have fewer dictators on this planet…

      1. Bahrain is a constitutional monarchy, just like the UK. If I understand correctly the Shiite people of Bahrain don’t want to topple the government, they just want a few more rights, which is fair enough.

        1. oh sure, i was mainly thinking of Iran, Egypt, Syria, Algeria, etc. which may be formally considered ‘republics’ but are far from being ‘democracies’.

        2. Yes, more or less right but the ruling family have a massive influence on the make up of the government making it merely a puppet government.

        3. they just want a few more rights, which is fair enough

          Brought to you fresh from the 19th century…

          I use the word ‘democracy’ in the sense of an ‘elected government’ not one chosen by the ruling monarch. Not therefore ‘just like the UK.’ But anyway my point was more general as matt88 spotted.

        4. Parliamentary action in Bahrain is apparently bicameral. One assembly is voted in power by the public, the other has members solely appointed by the king of Bahrain.

          If what I read is correct, both chambers have equal power. That seems like an intuitive discrepancy when reflecting on any form of representative democracy.

          1. One house voted in by the public (House of Commons), one house appointed by the monarch (house of lords). Widespread sense that the government represents a rich elite rather than the will of the people (just about every western democracy) people take to the streets to protest (UK uncut etc.) Democracy is about more than elections – One key measure is how protest is treated as part of the process (shooting them not a good thing). Let the people have their say and if the F1 show makes us more aware of what is going on over there then that can only be a good thing.

        5. Not factically true, as the UK is NOT a constitutional monarchy (the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, to pick a few comparable ones, are), as it does not have a constitution. But the point is understood.

          1. McLarenFanJamm
            16th February 2011, 12:38

            Actually, the UK is a constitutional monarchy. We have an uncodified constitution which means we don’t have a single core constitutional document, it is made up of many different documents including statutes, court judgements and treaties.

            The main consitution is the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignity, according to which the statutes passed by Parliament are the UK’s supreme and final source of law.

          2. Thanks for clearing that McLarenFanJamm!

            In the end it is even a biger difference from Bahrain, then.
            There the parliament does not have any real power, while in the UK it has the final word on all!

    2. Hear hear. Bernie’s comment makes me furious. Maybe its because he can relate to the autocratic regime, as that is effectively what he hold over the television rights in F1

    3. @David

      I was going to post the same thing if nobody else had. I mean, seriously – the nerve of those protesters, letting something like an attempt to end oppression get in the way of his Formula One race! How rude, I do say.

      I would have thought that people would be smart enough not to have “let them eat cake” attitudes these days – and that at least if they did, they’d be smart enough to not actually say it.

      It looks like Bernie’s arrogance has once again far outstripped his intelligence. What a class act.

      1. If Bernie needs this in purely commercial terms: ruining F1’s image by being condescending or even opposing pro-democracy or pro-rights demonstrations will lose F1 money and maybe many of its commercially associated companies (sponsors and teams) in a lot of the world. But frankly it’s all a bit obscene. There was always a bit of an insinuation that ‘opening up’ China to F1 etc was somehow a move towards free markets and so democracy. Ecclestone’s comment already shows blatantly that it’s just money. Nothing else. The question is whether everyone else involved will be happy with him making these kind of declarations. Particularly if there is a big protest at the race.

  9. Yes Bernie, how dare those people who want better rights rain on your parade? It might actually make the race interesting for once.

    1. I of course don’t mean the death and violence, we don’t want that, just banners at the circuit.

      1. If the regime reacts in a more measured manner, there will hopefully be minimal death or violence.

      2. Sounds like a good trade off. Having full stands with banners all over them asking for more freedom of press, schools, equal opportunities and more influence of the people on where the government is going.

        Bernie has said it in his bluntly unappropriate manner again. He probably thinks it is tongue in cheek, but actually it is a lot worse.

        1. If there are banners in the stands with political messages, I highly doubt they’ll make it to television.

          1. FOM control the feed, not Bahrain. Mind you, Bernie controls FOM, so…

          2. I am afraid you are right there Joey-Poey.

  10. Solution: Hold more races in Europe and the United States! (Okay, that was a shameless plug for U.S. races…but I’m not backing down!)

    1. Agreed. Bring back Watkins Glen and Longbeach! East and West Coast GPs! Europe gets 8 grands prix a year, Asia gets 9 (if you include Turkey, as it is on the Asian side of the Bosphorus). South America has one, North America currently has 1, with another on schedule with Austin next year. Is it too much to ask for 4 or 5 races in the Americas combined?

      1. Current: Austin, Montreal, Brazil.
        Interesting existing options: Longbeach, Indy, Watkins.
        Interesting new options: Mexico, Argentina.

        I think adding another one in a new country would be nice and then potentially an Americas Prix that bounces around other locales. Would be great fun. But I’d also happen to love that for the existing European Prix.

        1. I was just watching some rankled teachers rioting in Mexico, where.. was it 20 or 30 thousand civilians have died in the past few years in the military crackdown.

          I suppose you did call it an “interesting” new option.

  11. think bahrain and abu dhabi should be canned anyway(along with 1 or 2 more of the new tracks)2 of the dullest tracks anyway,and geographically right next to each other.

    1. I believe it is a good idea to have at least one GP in the Arab peninsula. We still need one in Africa.

      1. Why not hold races where the fans actually live?

        1. Because then F1 would still be a 4 country affair as it was in the 1930’s or a 10 country tops affaire as it was in the 60’s

          1. As a sport which attracts more worldwide audiences apart from football and the Olympics, that’s a pretty silly thing to say!

          2. I still do not see your point.

          3. Let’s see.

            We start with some 25-30 European countries of differing sizes totalling about 500 million. Then whe have the US, Brazil, Canada and possibly Argentinia, Mexico, Venezuela making another few hundred million in the Americas. Now don’t forget the Australians and New Zealand. Then there are the Japanese with a strong fanbase.

            And I would suspect there are some tens of million of fans in both India and China somewhere, as well as in Singapore, Malaysia and other asian countries.

        2. oh stop it. thats makes far too much sense!

      2. Agreed…bring back kyalami :D

  12. Would be a real shame if Bahrain was cancelled and we had to start the season in Melbourne.

    Oh wait… no it wouldn’t :D

    1. And if the final test had to be moved to Algarve, wouldn’t it be awful!

      Obviously it depends what happens in the next few days, but they can always postpone the Bahrain GP and have it a week before or after Abu Dhabi. It would be 3 races in 3 weekends, but Bahrain to Abu Dhabi isn’t a huge logistical problem.

  13. Just noticed the message to Kubica has appeared on the F1F logo, that’s a nice addition Keith.

    1. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
      15th February 2011, 20:59

      Where abouts is it as I can’t see it?

  14. Should think this might be a closed audience of journalists for this race.

    Its a shame but they will take risks in these countries, feel sorry for the fans if it happens.

    1. Not much of a difference then. Only attendants were the royal family, VIP guests and the bunch of standers by routed to get onto the stands to make it look like someone was watching.

  15. Let’s just hope that the protesters will get what they want. Their demands seem reasonable to me.

    And the government has reacted on the violence, there will be investigations to see whether excessive force was used.

    So I hope the government will act with the same reason towards the demands of the protesters.

    1. what is all this noise now about democracy? millions protested in europe and america against the wars in middle and still tony blair and george bush went to war…thousands protested here in UK against raise in student fees …but still the government gots its way…so only when it happens in other places it becomes a matter of concern?

      1. Last time I checked, the governments of the United States and the UK were elected by the people. I mean, perhaps I missed something – SPIDERman, are you sitting on some scoop where it turns out we’ve been under the thumb of a hereditary fundamentalist dictatorship without even realizing it?

        I mean, seriously… The student fees and the war? This is what you’re equating with decades of autocratic rule, and codified discrimination based on religious affiliation? Your goals may be admirable, but your hyperbole only weakens your case.

        1. Elected by the people. Huh that’s a nice joke. We all leave under an illusion of democracy and nothing else.

          1. I suggest that you spend some time in Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, and North Korea before you conclude that our democracy is an illusion. And if it is, it’s an illusion created by far more generous rulers than the ones who keep their boots on a great many other people.

            And it’s their plight that your self-aggrandizing handwringing serves to minimize. Bahrain is a country where only those of a certain religious sect can hold significant posts, where women only got the vote in recent years, and where internet censorship is so broad that search terms like ‘proxy’ are banned. And you’re arrogant enough to compare your position to theirs, as if you’re under some crushing totalitarian wheel? Please.

        2. What a small petty thinking. If all people thought like you then humans will still be going around with horses and have candles for light.
          By your standards then they shouldn’t complain ether because their are countries in Africa were people can’t find water, they die from horrible diseases and they have nothing to eat.
          There is always someone worse than you, that means nothing.
          The important thing is what it can be achieved but is not. Our western countries have all the possibility to make the life of the people awesome but instead our whole system sucks in-frond of what it could be done.
          It’s like having the Red Bull car but the driver is none other than Alex Yoong. Just because some other guys have an HRT car, it doesn’t mean you ain’t wasting a nice car by having Yoong going around with it.
          It’s like they trained threw fear all of you to shut-up and be happy with the bones they throw you because you might lose even that. Sorry i was never good at being a dog.

        3. Go tell all those people who lost their children in fake oil wars, that lost their homes to banks, or those who lost their jobs for no good reason, those who studied for many years but can’t find a job and all those who work so many hours a day for a small salary that they can’t even see their kids. Go tell them how lucky they are that they can type “proxy” and get back results from google.

          1. And you, you brave freedom fighter, are busy posting on F1 forums.

            Unfortunately, Solo, the world is not as conveniently black-and-white as you’d like it to be. Those of us in the west are incredibly fortunate compared to those in Bahrain – and they, indeed, are fortunate compared to the worst countries in Africa.

            You say yourself, right there, that there are countries far worse off than ours. But your original post suggests that any effort to support or praise those worse off than us is hypocrisy.

            No – hypocrisy is your attempting to present the west’s petty bickering as in the same league as that of Bahrain’s majority living on a few dollars a day.

            Their plight is not the same as your person who “studied for many years but can’t find a job”. Your equating the two is, frankly, obscene. I will indeed tell someone who lost his job for no good reason that his lot in life is not the same as someone whose baby starved to death in his arms; I will indeed tell someone who works “for a small salary” that he is incredibly fortunate compared with the people I saw in India, sleeping on the street next to piles of burning garbage. And I will indeed tell someone who lost his home to a bank that he is far more fortunate than someone whose hand was sliced off at the wrist by a machete and whose wife was brutalized and murdered in front of him.

            We may not have a perfect system in the west, and maybe you’re right – maybe we’re all just being ‘thrown a bone’ – but speaking up for, and hopefully pressuring governments to treat better, those who really can’t speak for themselves (rather than just those who sit in coffee shops and complain about The Man) is not hypocrisy. It’s the least we can do.

            And your hypocritical pity-party is, if anything, more obnoxious than Mr. Ecclestone’s arrogance. At least he comes by it honestly.

          2. Solo,

            I could not agree with you more.

            None are so hopelessly enslaved as those that falsly believe that they are free – Goethe.

            Check out this link, it is an excellent documentary:


      2. ooh, you go straight to hell for telling the truth! Either that or the naughty corner. Don’t forget your patriotism!

        I couldn’t agree more actually, well said.

    2. Demands? why do Protesters always make ‘Demands’ and Governments, well they make ‘Offers’. Oppressed people anywhere in the world should not have to demand anything – it should be their God given right as a human beings. (Sorry, wrong meeting :>)

  16. Is it sad that I’m hoping it DOES disrupt things so that the opening goes back to Australia?

    1. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
      15th February 2011, 19:19

      No, because (providing there are no deaths or injuries) most of us are hoping for the same.

  17. Everyone is in favor of people in Bahrain, or anywhere, standing up for basic human rights. But it’s a difficult question for people in the Global North or the “west.” See handwringing about Egypt in U.S. and Europe. It’s also a difficult because the countries that Love Freedom, and even invade other countries to enact it, rely primarily on unfree regimes for their energy and most consumer goods, as well as for much of their inbound direct investment. The conundrum applies also to big companies who need cheap energy or Chinese manufacturing to keep up the share price.

    However, actually it may be less difficult for F1, because F1 actually has something (small) to do about it. F1 can say, you have a lot of money to build a fancy track and do a race, but the stacks of dissidents in your jails and your army of official thugs who round them up give us pause. Does F1 really need Bahrain and the like? No way. F1 has its pick of hosts right now. And unlike goverments that have “national interests,” i.e., in access to oil or markets for their debt, to be concerned about, it doesn’t harm the sport to apply some scruples at the margins. And maybe F1 should.

    You can consider that F1 also has a commercial interest in avoiding the taint of these regimss. How would it look for F1 to be partying it up with the ruling elite at a $[X]00 million dollar single-purpose racetrack while poor people are getting tear-gassed in the streets? And we are not talking about riots about tuition increases, but dirt-floor no-running-water poverty. And the elites in these places make the British Royal Family seem upper middle class.

  18. Oh my … the culture wars breached by F1. Bernie does need to keep a muzzel on it, at all times. How dare these people interrupt his avent.
    The replies on this thread are a precious collection reminding us who we are and what we value in our culture.
    Oh, and for the sport fans who actually believe that F1 is only about sport and national pride … there is a pile of gold lurking in the shadows … business as usual mates.

  19. Well they already seem to cope with Brazil so surely this will be ok? GP2 just doesn’t get enough coverage for them to bother making a protest this weekend.

  20. I am quoting M. Ecclestone :

    “If these people wanted to make a fuss and get worldwide recognition it would be bloody easy, wouldn’t it? You start making a problem on the start grid in Bahrain and it would get worldwide coverage.”

    How stupid to say something like this, as an open invitation for weirdo’s to indeed do something…

  21. Formula One is dedicated to the business of racing the most highly evolved, tecnologically superior racing machines ever to be assembled in the hidtory of motor racing.

    It is not a political think tank, or a United Nations Organization with the duty of legitimizing the ruling elites of countries around the world.

    Criticizing Formula One for the sad state of affairs in some places where races are held, misses the point of what Grand Prix racing is all about.

    I know one thing for sure, the personal attacks on Mr. Ecclestone are completely unjustified and ignorantly wide of the mark. So many people have been able to advance the quality of their lives in ways impossible to even accurately account, as a direct result of his many years of Ecclestone’s unremitting hard work and risk taking at every turn. What many people don’t know, because they don’t know him, is that Bernie Ecclestone is generous to a fault, and loyal to the bone to people he Loves. He has helped people who could never have helped him in return. In such ways that no one will ever know about these things that he has done.

    So don’t hold Bernie Ecclestone as a scapegoat for the World’s political instability. He is responsible for building Grand Prix Formula One into the premier Motor racing brand that it is today. If you sum totaled all the money that everyone has made with Bernie, it is much more by far than the money he has made for himself. Bernie Ecclestone put it all together,and he is a good man. Any one who really knows him knows that. End of story. Case Closed.

    Michael P. Whelan

    Las Vegas, Nevada.

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