Should the Bahrain Grand Prix be held in 2011?

Debates and polls

Start, Bahrain Grand Prix, 2010

Start, Bahrain Grand Prix, 2010

The Bahrain Motor Federation has until tomorrow to tell the FIA whether the Bahrain Grand Prix can take place this year.

The race was supposed to open the season on March 13th but was postponed after anti-government protests were violently suppressed.

There has already been much debate here over whether the race should go ahead. Cast your vote here and we’ll find out what the majority of F1 Fanatic readers think.


Bernie Ecclestone has pressed the case for holding a race in Bahrain as soon as possible:

“Formula One must never be political ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ full stop. My job is it to do the best deals possible for Formula One ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ to secure jobs. Five thousand people have jobs which are directly or indirectly connected to Formula One, and I want to secure these jobs.

“It is not my business to make politics. We have politicians for that.”

Ecclestone has said the organisers could be given more time to decide if the race should go ahead:


The Bahraini government has poured money into the Bahrain International Circuit. Holding a race there now would be a political act, giving a clear sign of support to the country’s ruling family.

In the weeks since the cancellation of the race details of human rights violations have emerged. The British Foreign Office advises against travelling to the country on safety grounds.

More details on the situation in Bahrain at present can be found here:

I say

Before the race was postponed I argued that it should be cancelled, and my view remains the same:

You say

Should the Bahrain Grand Prix be held this year? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Should the Bahrain Grand Prix be held in 2011?

  • Yes (23%)
  • No (75%)
  • No opinion (2%)

Total Voters: 404

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130 comments on Should the Bahrain Grand Prix be held in 2011?

  1. I don’t see any reason for F1 to go to Bahrain, whatever the political situation.

  2. topdowntoedown (@topdowntoedown) said on 30th April 2011, 12:36

    I agree F1 should never be political. And that’s why we should go back next year, if the situation has calmed down then.

  3. amt2nd (@amt2nd) said on 30th April 2011, 13:31

    A couple of points.

    If, as is stated above, the British government has advised against travel to Bahrain then any British issued travel insurance will be invalid. That means any team or journalist based in Britain will be traveling at their own risk. Not likely to happen.

    If the race is held then there will be demonstrations at the track. The protesters will do anything to get on live world-wide television and the security forces will be desperate to stop them. I, for one, do not want a gran Prix to be a flash point for more violence.

    No race this year.

  4. Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 30th April 2011, 13:41

    No. I could go into more detail, but I think all of the sensible, conscientious people on the site are in agreement by now, so why bother trying in vain to persuade the stubborn?

    • Ads21 (@ads21) said on 30th April 2011, 15:52

      but I think all of the sensible, conscientious people on the site are in agreement by now

      I agree that the race shouldn’t go ahead, but its really arrogant to presume that people who disagree with you aren’t sensible and have no conscience. I think that most of the time its impossible to separate sport and politics, but arguing that we should try our best to do so is perfectly valid.

      • Maciek said on 30th April 2011, 16:54

        Your point is valid Ads, but I’m with Ned on this one – as I’ve said before in other threads, the separation of sports and politics is a false debate in the case of Bahrein. people getting shot at for demanding change from an autocratic government is not ‘politics’.

      • Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 30th April 2011, 18:00

        It is of course a bit arrogant. It’s not something I would normally argue, but, judging by some of the more inconsiderate comments I’ve read on the site over the last few weeks, for once I think it’s justified

        • LAK (@lak) said on 30th April 2011, 19:52

          I really appreciate your concerns Ned for the Bahraini people, dont get me wrong, but ignoring how the majority of Bahraini people feel is also a bit inconsiderate. I just want to get the message across that there is another side to the Bahrain issue and no we are not the government and are not the ones killing and terrorizing. Thanks to the measurements taken by our government, we feel safe. Bahrain is a country of law and order, and we refuse to live in the chaos we were in.
          This is not about reform, it is now known they had much bigger plans. We have the same demands for reform and there are legal ways to ask for them, not plan a coup to overthrow the government.

          • xtophe (@xtophe) said on 30th April 2011, 22:09

            If this majority you claim is so large, how is it possible that they can’t get an international forum? The ‘much bigger plans’ I assume is a reference to Iran. Surely Iran isn’t popular in Western media (to say the least). Are you claiming that all journalists, including the likes of Robert Fisk and others are just plain lying to have another ‘revolt in the Arab world’ story? I’m not a specialist on Bahraini history, but to the outside, the Gulfstates remind me of how 19th century nationstates liked to portray themselves (that is, the bourgeois-upper class part). ‘There is no governmental repression’, ‘a large portion of the population sides with the government’, ‘the government is just keeping the peace/order’, ‘we’re more civilized than ever’ and a classic ‘the riots are instigated by a foreign power trying to undermine our own government’.

            p.s.: I don’t mean that the Gulf is some backward region, it just looks all too familiar to a historian.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 1st May 2011, 12:12

            I am pretty much with xtophe on this LAK. The simple fact that state violence was needed to make a large part of the population feel secure show the picture is not as simple and clear lined as you see it.

            A lot of people in the world have learnt to take the stern messages from their governments with a big pinch of salt, as a government will always try to show its side of the picture. That is why we need opposition and independent media, something Bahrain has, for now, forsaken.

  5. Mads (@mads) said on 30th April 2011, 13:42

    An easy no for me. I agree with Ecclestone that F1 shouldn’t be political, but when the government orders the police to gun down unarmed protesters in the streets that is just a step too far.

    • S.J.M (@sjm) said on 30th April 2011, 13:47

      Agree thhat Bernie is right, F1 shouldnt get inolved in 1 countries politics, but visiting Barhain opens F1 up to be an involentry tool to which people can use for their causes whether F1 wants to be or not. Easiest way is to let them sort it out with the proper channals.

  6. djdaveyp85 (@djdaveyp87) said on 30th April 2011, 14:17

    No no no no no no no!

    It would be disgraceful to return there with what is going on.

  7. nik (@nik) said on 30th April 2011, 14:52


    And Qatar shouldn’t be hosting the World Cup either

    You can’t help but make sport political, since for decades now authoritarian regimes have been using large global sporting events to legitimize their regimes. Hitler used the Olympics, Mussolini had the World Cup, Franco had Real Madrid, etc.

    We should be sanctioning these nations as a way to prevent their rulers from turning around and telling their citizens that there is no hope for them since all these wealthy people from the west and democratic nations de facto support them through their support of their sporting events.

    Sporting events with global audiences are used as a political tool as a way to convey strength and stability – and we have a collective responsibility as representatives of the free world to take that tool away from dictators.

  8. martyn (@) said on 30th April 2011, 15:14

    I voted yes, assuming that it is safe for the drivers, fans etc.

    I don’t approve of human rights imperialism and exported revolutions. More saliently, I like Formula 1 and I want to see this grand prix.

    Since the default for 2011 would be for the grand prix to go ahead as scheduled, there is an asymmetry between how strong a political statement it would be to keep the grand prix vs. cancelling it, which is worth the consideration of those in favour of cancelling.

    If however the Bahrain Grand Prix is to be cancelled for political reasons, I propose that in keeping with the spirit of this new human-rights-conscious F1 we also cancel:

    Malaysia – due to institutional racism against Indians and Chinese ethnic minorities, and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers

    China – denial of freedoms of speech, press and religion

    Turkey – torture of prisoners, oppression of Kurds and Kurdish secessionists

    Brazil – police violence and torture

    Abu Dhabi – mistreatment of foreign workers

    India – caste system still in effect, police abuses and corruption

  9. cubejam (@cubejam) said on 30th April 2011, 15:25

    It’s dangerous. But if they can avoid the danger to fans and teams then sure! I don’t care about the Bahrain people.

  10. dyslexicbunny (@dyslexicbunny) said on 30th April 2011, 15:34

    No. Preparations have been made for the entire rest of the season. There is no reason to ask others to move now. Throw in the human rights violations, I just don’t think it’s appropriate.

    If the race happens, it would be interesting to see if the teams will not go.

  11. Corvette (@) said on 30th April 2011, 17:00

    Hey Bernie, you are just the politician over there, aren’t you?

  12. bigbadderboom said on 30th April 2011, 17:57

    No it should be cancelled this year. But only because the whole situation has attracted far too much public attention. And as we can see here there is too much negative feeling. Purely for that reason be it right or wrong the race should be returned to next years calender when the situation may be resolved.
    F1 cannot avoid becoming entangled in a public relations nightmare should it be forced through, Bernie may have good intentions of keeping the sport A-Political but it is now unavoidable and Bahrain for this year should be given a wide berth.

  13. Klon (@klon) said on 30th April 2011, 18:03

    My opinion has not changed, I am in favour of having the race if F1 personnel can go there safely. If not, then there’s no race.

    That’s the only thing that should be of importance to F1.

    • flowerdew (@flowerdew) said on 30th April 2011, 18:20

      I agree with this, mainly, with the caveat being that if, as speculated elsewhere in the thread, the only way to bring security in time for the Grand Prix is through brutal crackdown against mainly peaceful citizenry, then that’s too high a price to pay for a race.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 2nd May 2011, 9:49

      So what do you say about following the travel advice given by, amonst others, the UK and rather not go?

  14. I don’t want to say no straight away just incase the situation concludes peacefully, though at this rate that’s unlikely. If it continues or ends not so well, then it wouldn’t be right to put the race on.

    At the rate things are going I would say leave the race alone and let Bahrain sort out their problems.

  15. cubejam (@cubejam) said on 30th April 2011, 18:29

    At the end of the day all that I care about is that races go ahead. The more races the better. Safety of the travelling circus is a must. But I really couldn’t care less about the Bahraini government & their people.

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