Start, Bahrain Grand Prix, 2010

How should FOTA react to the Bahrain decision?

2011 Bahrain Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Start, Bahrain Grand Prix, 2010
Start, Bahrain Grand Prix, 2010

The FIA’s decision to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix has done more than just hand a propaganda coup to the Bahraini government.

It has also thrown the latter part of the 2011 F1 calendar into disarray and presented a direct challenge to the Formula 1 Teams’ Association to take a stand against Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt.

The decision means that, one-third of the way into the season, we know neither how long it will be nor when it will end.

The fresh problems created by the FIA’s ‘solution’ for keeping Bahrain on the calendar also revealed the lengths it and Formula One Group will go to keep cashing cheques from the Al-Khalifas.

The Indian Grand Prix

On the face of it the postponement of the Indian Grand Prix, ostensibly to give the organisers more time to ensure the circuit is complete, is a laudable move, given the difficulties the South Korean race organisers experienced last year.

But by dragging the Indian Grand Prix into the mess, it looks rather more like the FIA and FOM are trying to weaken FOTA’s position.

A key part of their objection to the race was on the grounds of extending an already packed schedule by another week or even longer. FOTA’s opposition on that issue is now aimed at a new and valuable addition to the F1 calendar.

You have to wonder why the Indian Grand Prix organisers were willing to put their race in such a vulnerable position. It’s not hard to imagine they were given little choice in the matter.

A championship in doubt

Putting the jeopardised Bahrain Grand Prix in the place of an existing race, and attempting to add a new round one week or more after the season was supposed to end, is an extraordinary move on the FIA’s part.

Not since 1963 has a world championship round been held in December – and in that year there was half as many races on the calendar.

At a stroke they have created a whole new problem, casting a shadow of uncertainty over the latter portion of the season.

The sudden appearance or disappearance of a race at the end of the year could have an obvious and inevitably controversial effect on the outcome of the championship.

This should have been resolved and put beyond doubt on Friday. Instead the FIA, running true to form, has postponed the decision and not even settled on a date for the Indian round.

All eyes on FOTA

Ahead of the World Motor Sport Council meeting the teams made it emphatically clear to Ecclestone they would not race in Bahrain.

So adamant were they that Autosport reported (in its print edition): “Bahrain’s hopes of holding a Grand Prix in 2011 are set to come to and end this week after it was accepted that security and logistical concerns make the race impossible to run.”

All eyes are now on how FOTA will react to the race’s reinstatement. Will they accept the decision and swallow their concerns about travelling to Bahrain?

As recently as Thursday the British foreign office downgraded its travel advisory on Bahrain, saying it “we no longer advise against all but essential travel to Bahrain”.

However there remains cause for concern over whether the Grand Prix can be held safely in four months’ time. The foreign office’s warning to “exercise caution, particularly in public places and on the roads, and avoid large crowds” does not sound like a suitable environment for an F1 race.

The moral implications of racing in Bahrain are even more troubling and some of the teams’ drivers have admitted so. Mark Webber wrote on his website last week: “As a competitor I do not feel at all comfortable going there to compete in an event when, despite reassurances to the contrary, it seems inevitable that it will cause more tension for the people of that country.”

Inevitably, the decision is seen as a test of the unity of the 11 teams (HRT having left in January).

The most obvious fault line is president Martin Whitmarsh’s connection to the Bahraini royal family, who are part owners of McLaren.

FOTA have promised a “detailed joint position” on Bahrain and invited feedback from fans, which you can send via the email address on their website.

Reading the thousands of comments on the subject posted here since February, and the results of the poll taken in April, it’s clear the majority of F1 fans are against the Bahrain race.

How do you think FOTA should respond to the FIA’s decision? Should they boycott Bahrain? Should they refused to race beyond the original end date for the season? Have your say in the comments.

2011 Bahrain Grand Prix

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233 comments on “How should FOTA react to the Bahrain decision?”

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  1. let the BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX take place.
    otherwise where do you draw the line when every time there are riots anywhere you stop the sporting activity?

    1. Tom Chiverton
      6th June 2011, 11:44

      The government of most counties won’t slaughter it’s citizen’s. The line is fairly clear.

      1. Which country hasn’t done that?

        People get shot in “protests” in every country.

        Even in the UK protesters die from police brutality:

        Of course in some other countries it happens on a bigger scale. For instance, take Brazil:

        Unofficial estimates show there are over 3,000 deaths annually from police violence in Brazil, according to Human Rights Watch. There are constant complaints of racism, abuses, torture, executions and disappearances. Not all states record police killings or keep accurate statistics.

        China violently beats down protests every year. People get killed by the dozens in those police actions.

        How do you think Turkey deals with Kurds when they protest? They call them terrorists and lock the whole lot of them up (or shoot them). In prison they get tortured.

        It’s simply preposterous to claim that Bahrain is the only (let alone the worst) of the countries that F1 vistits. Far from it.

        1. Yeah England is such a difficult place to live…

          I think your missing the point, This is happening now, it’s something very visible. Do you want your F1 to be no more than a tool to be used by the Bahrani king?

        2. Have we really reached a point in the debate where an irresponsible police officer using a truncheon is likened to an army firing on its own citizens, just to make a point? Especially when the point, so to speak, misses the point.

        3. Here is an answer to that from the unlikely source of Pitpass!

          Sounds like coming from Bahrain with a vengeance.

          1. Absolutely chilling BasCB. How can anyone who has the least interest in F1 ignore such reports as these. Yes, we have bad events that take place in UK. Yes, the situation in Brazil has been apalling for years. Yes, the Chinese governments idea of freedom is terrifying.

            But we can only bring to bear the right kind of pressure for governments to change their ways if we take the chances we are given to show just how strongly we feel about oppression and injustice.

            As has been said often enough before, ‘just because we can’t do the right thing every time doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do the right thing when we get the chance.’

            That Pitpass report tells us all we need to know. F1 must not go the Bahrain.

          2. That’s brave…

    2. I’m happy to draw the line at oppression, torture and crushing of protest for democracy.

      If the grand Prix does take place I’ll be boycotting it.

      1. SirCoolbeans
        6th June 2011, 12:09

        Exactly, this isn’t just another sporting event or race in a country with problems. This is a sporting event being used for PR by a nasty government and F1 is allowing that to happen.

        I shall be boycotting this race too.

        1. Because Grand Prix racing has never been used for propaganda by a government before… Nazi Germany anyone?

          This is not a new problem. Whatever the decision it needs to be clear and consistent. Cricket has got into a lot of hot water for boycotting South Africa during apartied but doing nothing about what took place in Zimbabwe. When there is inconsistency the result looks political, and that can be bad too.

          So, whatever they do they need to make sure there is a protocol that can be applied consistently in similar circumstances.

      2. Agreed, I really hope that the teams boycott it first.

        1. I hope the BBC boycott it.

    3. Most countries don’t get more violent as a direct result of F1’s presence, and also most countries’ examples of violence are unlikely to present a threat to the operation of the race itself. It’s dubious as to whether Bahrain’s even going to be possible from an insurance perspective but it could take a lot more bloodshed before F1 discovers this :(

    4. Riots might not be a reason to stop a GP from taking place.

      But this GP was dropped back in March because of riots escalating into people being shot, beaten, detained and tortured by the government on a large scale. Dropping it was the only right thing to do.

      Now that same government tells us all is fine again, while the news is clearly showing that is more wishfull thinking then reality. Should we, go along with that government? In effect have F1 be used for politics. Certainly not.

      And above that, how on earth can someone guarantee safety for the team members, let alone the media or visiting fans.

      1. Not racing because of political situation is taking a political decision; and if F1 does not wish to go to Bahrain now it has no business to go there next year too… because the political struggle will not end in few months. Then F1 should put it’s moral hat on & try to figure out which other countries it should avoid, maybe countries which went looking for WMDs in Iraq should be avoided, maybe countries like Russia & China where there is suppression of political voices, media with brutal force. next questions should be asked which teams are getting financial support from questionable sources… i’m sure then many things will crop up which if the same moral principle applied to other countries aswell.

        And if the people want to argue that Bahrain is special case; then the other side would say maybe a middle east country with muslim population has been judged again with a different yard stick by the west and they will be the first to point out many HR violation of different countries & still F1 is happy going those places. And if this happens then it would drag F1 in a real time political mess which would be far more murky than what would happen if it quietly races there & comes out w/o making any political comments…

        1. would also like to add that teams who oppose the race should also suspend their business in Bahrain, maybe Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault et all stop selling their cars there. airline companies of Mallya, Branson, & Tony Fernandes stop flighting connecting to Bahrain. Red Bull stop selling it’s drinks there till they feel it’s ok to race there.

          if this is not done then it’s pure hypocrisy to criticize the event.

          1. Dear Dev, simply by writing as you have you are making a political statement. You have declared your position politically.

            Simply by being a team racing in F1 you are making a political statement. Simply by taking sponsorship money you are making a political statement.

            Politics is all of human life and all human affairs and the words of a man with the the kind reputation Ecclestone has on this subject of politics are, as usual, beneath contempt.

        2. I don’t think there is any precedence for messing around with the calendar to give the Bahrain government another chance the same year. The British government doesn’t give any money to Bernie, and we have seen in the past he doesn’t want to do any favours for Silverstone or the BRDC, therefore it would be hypocritical for him to make allowances for Bahrain for much more serious issues than muddy carparks or lack of helipads for sponsors.

          Racing there would be a political decision: that Bahrain’s government gets to influence the F1 season because Bernie wants their money. If F1 is determined to show it is above politics (wishful thinking to me), then it should say “Too late, you missed your slot. See you next year.”.

          1. that should have been said when it missed the bus in March, but then F1 bosses said they will reschedule the race if conditions were safe. now to say that you missed the bus would be contradicting that. also would mean that f1 pays compensation to Bahrain for boycotting race there despite safety issue being addressed.

          2. I think suggesting the “safety issues” have been addressed is a bit of a leap.

            I think you are underestimating the situation in Bahrain, People are being arrested, there are many reports of violence and torture, there is a complete media blackout so we, the west, aren’t able to see what is going on.

          3. … not to mention the fact that Bernie himself said last week that he couldn’t guarantee the teams’ safety, let alone the safetey of the photographers and journalists.

        3. You might be right Dev, if this would have been a question on deciding weather to leave Bahrain on the calendar.

          But in light of the fact that they did all they coud to reinstate it after it was put off, means now the FIA is already playing to a governments political tune.

          1. true but knowing how things are tight when a contract is signed & you have agreed to race later on if safety issues are addressed would prove to be lot more costly.

            Bernie will say to teams compensate me or stop all business of your parent companies in Bahrain before you tell me it’s not the right thing to do.

          2. If you are fine by “adressing” safety issues with military security forces, random roundups of people, beating and torturing and detention of possible critics, I understand your point.

            For me, this is certainly not the case.

            And to get back to the point I was making, how regular is reinstated after the organiser fails to get it in the planned time slot?

      2. The last time journalist were in bahrain (during the media black out) they were tarred with the same brush as the protestors so they certainly cannot guarantee the safety of anyone. If a protest happens and you see it the only people that will deffinetly be safe are the ones who are watching from home which i hope is no one.

    5. Soumya Banerjee
      6th June 2011, 13:45

      Its not just about riots. Think! The season will end in the second week of December, at the end of which the teams’ engineers will have their hands full to make a car by the fourth week of January. As a result, we may not see teams bringing in revolutionary parts in the following season. F1 will become more conservative, do you want that?

      1. once in many many seasons if they have to work an additional weekend is not a big deal… besides they can ask for additional compensation from teams or start testing a week or two later. but not racing jus because it’s late in the year would not be strong enough reason.

        1. They are working 3 more weekends than they did not long ago as it is. The calender in becoming increasingly large, growing to 21 next year even. I think there is a limit to what you can ask the engineers to do.

      2. The guys @ the track are not the same guys who develop the cars.

        And besides, only the teams still in the hunt at the last race will continue developing their 2011 race spec car. The others would have already begun working on their 2012 spec the second they realised they had lost all chances.

  2. I’m not sure it is so simple with HRT not being a member of FOTA. The organisation – in my view – won’t work without all the teams being a member. What happens if HRT go to the Bahrain race and – as the only team there – are declared the winners? Virgin, Lotus and potentially Williams would lose out.

    HRT are rather key in this whole ‘game’ – which is disappointing.

    However, if sponsors start pulling out of the Bahrain grand prix – which is possible – then that will put the nail in the coffin on the race. That would add an unexpected twist to the whole affair.

    1. Now that will be interesting, a replay of something like 2005 USA GP?

      1. At the USA GP, the problem became apparent over the course of the weekend. The teams were already there.

        I would presume that any team that was going to boycott the race wouldn’t turn up at all since (apart from the fact that it would be a waste of money) the safety of the personnel is one of the key issues.

        1. To be honest, if none of the other teams went there, would HRT have to resources to organize their own individual travel? And if there were only 2 cars racing (with the other teams not even in the country) then TV coverage would be pulled and I expect the race would be too. If ALL of FOTA agree to miss the race then it won’t go ahead, regardless of HRT.

    2. I think if that happened HRT could never expect any help or recognition from the other teams again. It would the Rubicon of all Rubicons for a team to do that.

      The foreign office’s warning to “exercise caution, particularly in public places and on the roads, and avoid large crowds” does not sound like a suitable environment for an F1 race.

      Well there won’t be any trouble on the last part, the Grand Prix should be the perfect place to avoid large crowds!

      1. It think you’re right about that Icthyes. I don’t think HRT would play a major role in the decision.

        1. John Edwards
          6th June 2011, 22:10

          I think HRT would know better. They know in situations where it’s down to the discression of the other teams whether they are allowed to race or not this would destroy any such hopes of any sympathy.

          They may prove me wrong and go for the constructors points which by rights gives them a shed load of money.

          44 points was good enough for 8th last year in the constructors. So 43 for a 1-2 (if they finish the race!!!) would put them at least ahead of the “new teams”.

    3. I’d be surprised if the contract between Ecclestone and the Bahrainis doesn’t include a stipulation for them to supply a minimum number of cars – which two would almost certainly be lower than.

      This hypothetical scenario wouldn’t be the same as the 2005 United States Grand Prix where all the teams were present, but only three of them actually started.

      1. Well I can see two issues with that contract that are unknown and need to be thought about:

        1. What would the repercussions be on the teams who do not turn up? This could range from fines to being thrown out of the championship

        2. What are the stipulations regarding minimum entrants? I see your point that the round might not go ahead but there must be some sort of benefit for the team(s) that do turn up. For example – the fines from 1) above might amount to the same amount as the difference between 11th and 12th in the constructors championship.

        I just don’t think its as simple as FOTA simply saying they won’t race.

        In reply to Icthyes above too – of all the teams, I really don’t think HRT care about anything but the money thus far. Their statement of intention to protest the Monaco GP results (even if they haven’t) shows their willingness to be unpopular for their own benefit.

        1. I think the minimum is about 18 cars. That was where the 3 car teams idea stemmed from when teams started dropping out a few years back (6 x 3 = 18). But it might be a completely different number by now.

          I would think Bernie would have possibilities to give less prize money to teams that do not turn up. And maybe they could be penalized by the FIA as well.
          But what would a WMSC meeting then look like?
          The Manufacturers representative, Italian and Spanish vice presidents, Indias representative Mallya, not to mention Venezuelan representative, etc. would have to agree with a ban or penalty for the teams.
          And would the FIA be really content to talk about this again and remind the world how bad it is in Bahrain?

      2. The FIA is entitled to cancel any race where fewer than 12 cars are available for it. I can’t imagine the figure Ecclestone and the Bahrainis agreed on will be lower. In fact, the contract was signed before the new Concorde Agreement, so the limit should be 16 (the old Agreement said 20 but the lower one for the circuit takes into account the potential for mid-weekend injuries and technical exclusions).

        If 5 teams didn’t go, the race would be endangered. USA 2005 shows that the FIA will probably attempt to run the race regardless of numbers (unless of course nobody shows up), but even one team refusing would be a powerful statement. Sadly I don’t think any team has the necessary control over its own destiny to do so.

        1. I think only Ferrari and Mclaren could afford to not turn up and pay any huge fine. Unfortunately they are the 2 teams least likely to do anything to upset the Royal family – too many car sales to risk upsetting anyone

          1. Red Bull could surely afford it without any trouble at all.

    4. If HRT go and the FOTA teams won’t want to go, and, as you say, Lotus, Virgin and Williams decide to go to beat HRT, then Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso will go to beat Williams, and Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull will go to beat Sauber, and we will have everyone.
      If the FOTA decide (which I hope) not to go, and HRT decided to ignore them and go on their own, they should go on their own and lose the respect of many fans.

      1. this is a little OT, but how awesome would it be for the HRT’s to be on the podium??? xP

        But in all seriousness the race should not take place, i do not see ANY upsides to this, no silver lining.

        1. That would be a big problem.

          As 10th in the WCC gets money. 11th doesn’t. Nor does 12th.

          Lotus nor Virgin will score that many, if any, points this year.

          If HRT along with say even up to 7 other teams went, it would only take a 3 way crash and a couple of DNFs through tech failures to give HRT a point.

          Hel, if HRT went and no other did then HRT would finish on 43 points, more than Lotus or Virgin, or possibly Wiliiams or Force India.

          They get more funding for 2012 and Lotus mises out.

          As someone said above.

          If HRT go and the other think the race will go ahead.
          Virgin will go to grab the points themselves are score money
          Lotus will go to cover it and ensure that they can come 10th in the WCC.
          Force India, Williams and Torro Rosso will then feel a bit worried depending on points and would have to go just in case the previous teams did go themselves.

          Renault, Sauber and Mercedes can’t afford to lose WCC points and so they will go.

          Mclaren will go because they are owned by them

          Ferrari need points for the WCC and WDC.

          RBR might need to go if Crash Kid and the Aussie can’t get a big enough lead by then.

    5. I can’t believe that HRT would want to win their first race under those circumstances! That would be unforgivable.

  3. It appears that a ‘Day of Rage’ as been planned for the Bahrain GP.

      1. They are peaceful protesters aren’t they? So why should F1 worry?

        In fact it’s a good platform for these protesters to voice their anger.

        1. It’s not the protestors i’d be worried about it’s when the police respond with tier gas and machine guns and don’t care exactly who they are shooting at untill after everyones dead

          1. Although saying that a day of “rage” doesn’t sound to peacefull :P

          2. If they do there will be a stack of F1 press in the country that would probably not be allowed in otherwise.

            F1 won’t go without its press corps. So, F1 might be the only way the press would be able to get real coverage of what is going on in Bahrain.

      2. This is what I mean.. A day of “rage” sounds very peaceful :) By the way, the first day of protests on Feb. 14th was called the ‘day of rage’ too.. So this whole things started with their rage, death chants, etc.. but of course they were peaceful.. At then they didn’t turn violent, it was just the verbal assaults..

        FOTA should send representatives as well if they don’t trust the FIA.. The opposition agreed to dialogue and support the GP. If they stand true to their word and really mean what they say then we should be fine as the protesters follow what the opposition tell them to do blindly.

  4. I think that in a place where there are so many ‘if’ what’s the point of going there?

    1. will broadcasters like the BBC feel safe to go either?

      1. The BBC have war correspondents on their staff. I think its a bit insulting to them to suggest that the BBC won’t go anywhere that isn’t safe.

    2. Absolutely correct wasiF1.

      Personally, I don’t like to politicise anything, I would like them to just get on with it and race. F1 has survived enough scandals and i’m positive this will blow over like everything else. Maybe I don’t care enough.

      However, what I don’t appreciate is all the uncertainty. It’s taken us this long to get a confirmation either way and we don’t even know what’s happening with India. That’s the frustrating part for me.

    3. Wonderful comment. The safety should not even be slightly in doubt if F1 wants to race there.

      1. Absolutely safety is important of some 1000 people who will travel from different part of the world to watch F1.

  5. The whole thing is quite unfair to many:
    – to FOTA: FIA and FOM are passing the moral hot potato to FOTA
    – to the spectators: All who plan to travel to races – teams and spectators cannot make and/or have to change their plans
    – to Brasil: it gets robbed of a finale
    – to Bahrain protesters: the world will be seeing a happy, but unreal image of Bahrain

    I’m just wondering to whose benefit is all this. Not many options remain …

    1. You’ve put your finger on it directly, the people who are benefiting here are clearly FOM and the organisers of the Grand Prix. You would have thought the conflict of interest present there could be resolved by some sort of governing body.

      Unfortunatley it appears F1 doesn’t have one after all. FIA has backed down on engines, return to underfloor aero and appears to be taking no responsibility for this, Jean Todt’s getting a definate disapprove from me till he starts acting like a man with any will to influence the sport for the better.

      1. Agreed. Can’t wait for this next vote.

      2. Look at how he “defends” going to Bahrain again here on the BBC.

        Oh my, so the FIA representative

        saw everything is fine and stable with his own eyes

        and put in a report that was the basis for the desicion.
        What about looking at the current news items the morning before that meeting Jean,
        don’t they bring you fresh papers at breakfast?

        1. So you’re saying Jean Todt should ignore the person he sent to Bahrain specifically to do this job and instead read the paper? Why send them at all then?

          1. Good question, as he failed to notice what was going on there.

  6. The thing is teams are now between a rock and a hard place. They have contractual responsibilities to go to Bahrain if the FIA says so. If thy don’t they will be dragged into fines/ penalties for bringing the sport into disrepute etc. It would not help them to start another conflict with the FIA and FOM since they have to negotiate new concord/2013 regulations etc.

    But on the other hand, they have contracts with the staff too – you can’t force people to go somewhere where you can’t guarantee for their security, you can’t force people to cancel their december off-time too. Not to mention the problems with logistics, the reshuffling of next year’s car progress and so on and so on.

    The most important issue however is that F1 will be dragged into this political/ethnic conflict by both sides…They just shouldn’t go there, I hope they won’t!

  7. I think the event could be an opportunity to initiate dialogue between the Bahrainis at power and westerners, to help the people of Bahrain be given some rights. If F1 doesn’t go ahead in Bahrain, then I do not think there will ever be such opportunity ever again, and we(F1 community) will affectively be leaving the people of Bahrain at the mercy of their own destiny and at the will of some dictators.

    1. Disagree, if it goes ahead, it will be a frenzy. The planned “Day of Rage” by the protesters will be on a scale unseen there, as people use The Grand Prix and all it’s cameras to make their feelings known to the world.

      The authorities will then have to go massively over the top to contain the protesters and they won’t be able to hide it.

      I can see it being cancelled the week before when FOM, FIA and Bahrain officials realise they risk having race team or F1 media blood on their hands because they were greedy.

      1. Maybe by then they will have gotten rid of all the leaders of the protests.

  8. If there is to be a ‘Day of Rage’ on the Sunday of the GP weekend, then I can see there being no option other than to call the whole thing off.

    1. Why?

      Everybody seems to be talking about these peaceful protesters who suddenly got shot for no reason at all.

      Are you saying that in fact it was more like a violent mob and that these “protests” should be called riots?

      1. The government has two options if this happens: as they are live in the whole world, leave the protesters protest, or stop the protest brutually and be condemned by the whole world and possibly cause a strike by the drivers and teams.

  9. Keith, I spotted a couple of mistakes:

    the teams it emphatically clear

    Should be a “made” in there presumably.

    controversial affect on the outcome

    Should be “effect”.

    1. Fixed both, thanks.

  10. I think it should be scrapped!!, what if something does happen? the region is unstable and formula 1 should stop thinking of dollar bills and get some sense into them!! it will be intersting to see what Martin Whitmarsh’s decides hes probalbly sqaushed between the teams and the bahrain royal family. would the fans even turn up at the event?

  11. FOTA should boycott on the principle that the race has missed it’s slot, an the calender should be final. They’ll make themselves look dangerously weak otherwise. Frankly the FIA should have put there foot down and it’s sad that they haven’t.

    Whether we should be racing in Bahrain at all is an interesting one, personally I think we shouldn’t, I’d suggest reading this thread in the forum for the arguments from all sides.

    1. I think this demonstrates that the FIA is just a big trough and Jean Todt is the number 1 pig.Sad to think things could be worse than they were under Mosley. Time for FOTA to break away.

      1. I was surprised given past history that Mosley has in fact come out strongly against his old pal Bernie

        1. Link to Mosley’s statement which I think is a pretty good summary of some of the opinions here:

          Never thought I’d agree with Max.

  12. HounslowBusGarage
    6th June 2011, 11:58

    The other reason for getting the dates of the Indian Grand Prix involved is that the 2011 season opener is supposed to be Bahrain. Bernie would not want to close 2010 in Bahrain and then open the new season three months later at the same track.
    The Bahrain Grand Prix is automatically a target for any protestors. There isn’t really a sure fire way of ensuring that protestors don’t get un unless the organisers restrict spectator entry to non-Bahrainees only.
    And what an admission of failure that would be.

  13. FOTA is in a horrible position. This decision appears to have been taken without anyone actually aware of the current situation in Bahrain being present, but legally FOTA is now bound by that decision of ignorance. They can’t refuse Bahrain or India even though there’s going to be huge trouble.

    I’m expecting people to die as a direct result of these decisions, both through Bahraini riots/counter-measures and overwork due to lack of recovery in the 2011/2012 off-season.

    Unless FOTA’s in a position to set up a rival series to F1 in 4 months’ flat (and I don’t think it is), then it has no choice but to comply with bad grace. They can’t refuse to attend, qualify or start the formation lap due to contracts and parking afterwards means that they’re at risk of being told off for staging a political protest!

    1. Not to mention that under the current Concorde agreement, the teams are instantly in breach of contract for even seriously discussing such a rival series, not to mention make preparations.

    2. The teams can only blame themselves if they signed a contract that forces them to race in December.

      1. But it didn’t. It guarantees minimum 12 weeks of rest between seasons (for a 20 race calendar)

  14. FOTA should make up their minds and understand why they are racing at all. To make some point – political, social, whatever?

    It seems that lot of people think (or would like to think) that by holding Grand Prix in country X – all F1 related people, starting from pilots ending with random viewers on TV, supports sountry X political stance, socio ethnic society, human rights, rates of water, price of cherry ice cream.

    There is always a possibility that party Y or party Z in country X will make F1 race look like “collaborationist event degrading human rights) or if not racing – “a brave step against human oppression and harrasment of civil rights (China excluded)”

  15. the race should take place. by not going the F1 fraternity are being used as a political tool, F1 should be apolitical. fly in, race, and then leave. let the bahreinis sort out their problems by themselves.

    anything less is hypocritical. china has some of the worst human rights records and yet i see no protest re staging the race there.

    1. By going the F1 circus is being used as a political tool. The Bahrain government is using us to attempt to show that normality is restored, the race is the perfect propaganda tool to dismiss the wishes of their own people and the way they have treated them.

      China changes nothing, I’m sure you’ll have heared the phrase two wrongs don’t make a right.

      This race is now political and there’s nothing anyone can do about that. So the choice is, will F1 be the tool of an oppresive government, or will F1 refuse to be seen legitimisng despots.

    2. The FIA is going out of their way to have the GP used as a political tool by reshuffling the calender to appease a regime that failed to make it possible to sensibly have a race there at its planned slot on the calender, to help them show their point of view of their country. That’s political.

      Not political would have been to say “sorry, you mist your slot, but we’ll keep your 2012 opening slot open for you if your country has improved enough by then (according to international reports instead of our VIP guest tour investigator) to safely hold the race”.

      1. Exactly.

      2. If I’d noticed thses two comments I wouldn’t have posted my one saying exactly the same thing!

      3. Exactly.

      4. Well said, bosyber.

    3. Indeed kenji. Completely right.

      If anything, it’s actually all these high horse people who keep linking F1 and the Bahraini political situation who are creating a dangerous situation.

      1. @Patickl, thats rubbish and you know it. Read the two posts directly under kenji’s post.

        Sticking your head in the sand is the worse possible solution and bashing everyone else for not doing the same thing is just as bad.

  16. NickTheGeek
    6th June 2011, 12:10

    Its an absolute disgrace that the FIA and FOM are prepared to stage the race. Whats been said however is correct, the teams really are in no position to argue, their only way out is to have a VERY united front and spin the negative media attention back towards the FIA and FOM to force their hand.

    1. The ‘people’ of Bahrain are organising a ‘Day of Rage’ for the GP (see twitter). If it gathers enough momentum, there will be no Bahrain GP.

      1. “Day of Rage” from peaceful opposition? And against what – F1?

        1. Against what it represents in the context of an unstable socio-economic situation and a divisive government. Remember the government is the main impetus of the Grand Prix and it’s the event for which the Bahraini government is best known. As a symbol in the minds of the Bahraini public, F1 is as powerful as the Pearl Roundabout but for quite different reasons.

          1. Indeed. There is a fear that the GP will be used as a symbol of oppression towards the people of Bahrain. A symbol that could be used time and again when ever there is unrest in the country.

        2. We had a race in Barcelona a few weeks ago. The race weekend was smack in the middle of a period of mass protests. There were several police actions to clear up blockaded area’s in Barcelona.

          Just after the race there was more violent action:

          What does F1 have to do with any of this?

          1. In Barcelona the race was just an annual sporting event. It was not there to present a facade of everything being alright.

            Sorry to see the police took harsh action of a kind that one frequently sees at mass protests everywhere. Nowhere near as harsh as in Bahrain where people got killed, others got arrested and tortured, put on trial, robbed of their livelihoods, and if you helped the wrong people medically you were immediately targeted for such lamentable treatment.

            (If this particular video is from the day of the Barcelona vs Man United game, in my opinion the authorities could have made more of an effort to clean around the protesters rather than dismantling everything first, so what if it wasn’t totally clean. Or at least they could have communicated better. They missed an opportunity.)

      2. Twitter-organized protests are a myth. When you want to gather against an opressive regime, you don’t want to be noticed by the repression-delivers (again, bad english… sorry…). It’s not a matter of the technologically dumb government vs. the revolutionary connected youth.

  17. AdrianMorse
    6th June 2011, 12:19

    Shame on Bernie & Co. for ever putting the option on the table of holding the Bahrain GP later in the season. No one could have blamed F1 in general if the Bahrainis had been told “sorry, you missed your slot this year, let’s evaluate the situation again next season”.

    F1 doesn’t need Bahrain (especially with the US and Russian GPs on the horizon, and a calendar fit to bursting), but going there could seriously hurt the sport (not to mention oppressed Bahrainis).

    Perhaps FOTA should sue the FIA for bringing the sport into disrepute.

    1. The Bahraini’s pay 30 to 40 million for their race. I guess Ecclestone couldn’t just let that go.

      Then there are all the sponsors who are not paying their money. I think it was estimade that that was another 40 million.

      So that’s a total of 70 to 80 million that Ecclestone want’s his hands on.

      Actually a big part of that would be for the teams. So even the teams stand to make millions from this race.

  18. Instead the FIA, running true to form, has postponed the decision and not even settled on a date for the Indian round.

    Have the FIA decided when they’ll finalise the Indian GP date? says December 9/10/11.

    Intereatingly though if you head to the Bahrain GP page on it’s still showing the March dates for its race schedule.

      1. A best possible reason for not seriously planning a new date for India might be that no one seriously believes Bahrain to go ahead in October.

        But leaving it to someone else (the teams?) to do so.

        1. Problem is that you have people cancelling October flights and putting December ones in place, and it’d be a right farce if people were told “yeah, change your bookings back, we’ve changed our mind about the date”.

          To be honest this could have all been avoided had they chosen to put Bahrain as the final race and leave India alone, but I guess the October date was to make things easy in terms of going from Bahrain “up the road” to Abu Dhabi which takes place 2 weeks later.

          1. I was not intending to say I agree with it, just saying what might have been a reason.

            You are perfectly right.

    1. Interesting, usually (as shown by that Bahrain GP page) is very slow and sluggish to react to anything at all.

      1. I know, I mean my posters were updated to the Bahrain thing before was :D

          1. Speaking of the Bahrain Poster’s finished, now I just gotta tweak the other 19 with a little BHR box :/

          2. Yeah, and redo India, when its clear what date it will be.

          3. After the latest reports, maybe rather wait with tweaking those PJ!

  19. FOTA members should propose Bernie that they are willing to do an additional race elsewhere in the world, a place where it’s actually profitable to make the race happen… so that teams can compensate Bernie with another race… keeping sponsors happy & also keeping Bernie happy by letting him have his race fee.

    second option would be giving financial compensation to all affected members who would lose it’s revenue due to their decision to not race there.

    third option would be simply wear a arm band which for supporting peace & wishing both sides well; stay quiet race there if safe & not try to put the political hat on.

  20. I think that it’s been made fairly clear time and again where the majority of people visiting this site think about holding the GP. Given that F1F seems to be steadily gaining in prominence and mainstream recognition, that is already a fairly clear signal of where fans stand (that’s not to ignore opposing views, but it’s pretty clear I think that, however vocal, they are a minority).

    I haven’t really seen this mentioned much, but there is a pretty big can of worms waiting to be opened here: if we accept that it’s wrong for F1 to legitimise and take money from the Bahraini government – how long can we feel ok about the same governemnt’s stake in McLaren? Lots of accusations about double standards have been thrown around lately, especially in relation to the Chinese GP – arguably with good reason – but it seems to me like the absolutely unavoidable conclusion of the logic of boycotting the race is that McLaren are part and parcel of a repressive regime’s array of ‘crown jewels’. I like McLaren, always have, I like both Hamilton and Button. But thinking about all this, I’m going to have trouble wholeheartedly cheering for them for the moment.

    1. I must say, I am curious how Withmarsh is going to handle this, especially as the FOTA chairman.

      1. Yup – nervous times in F1, eh?

      2. Presumably he will handle it as Ron Dennis tells him to handle it.

    2. I have wondered if the people in charge of money deals at McLaren have been very busy indeed to get different sources of money. We can say that McLaren took the money before the Bahrain situation escalated, and with them being part owned, it is quite hard to quickly change that, so some amount of leniency can be given. But yes, it’s a bit of an issue for them, I gather, and certainly makes Whitmarsh be in a somewhat tricky position.

      1. While the violent reaction to peaceful protest in Bahrain is abhorrent we have to remember that generally the Gulf states have been seen as the civilised face of absolute monarchy , with a great deal of benevolence allowing a population explosion leading to the current discontent.

        1. with a great deal of benevolence allowing a population explosion

          How does that follow?

          1. They are not feeding themselves by subsistence farming, they are being supported by the govt. or are working in the economy, that’s how they support their large families.

        2. Hm, not sure I saw them like that. What for the repeated issues with “slave” workers in construction and household personell, not to mention the general level of freedom and womens rights and all that were available for years now.

          1. Not defending their employment practices or their womens rights, just stating that their homeborn citizens get a lot of handouts and poverty is relative.

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