Bahrain protesters turn attention to F1 race

F1 Fanatic round-up

Bahrain International Circuit, 2004In the round-up: Bahrain protesters turn their attention to the forthcoming Grand Prix.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Bahrain youths protest against Formula One (Google News)

“‘We (object to) holding a sports race that belittles the sacrifices of our children and ignores our suffering and wounds,’ said a statement read by a youth dressed in a white death shroud and a black hood, according to a video posted online. ‘Do not tarnish the reputation of the respected auto sport with the blood of Bahrain victims.'”

Bahraini protester dies after being shot at demonstration (Reuters)

“Mohammed bu Daniel said his cousin was taking pictures of a demonstration when what he described as “militia members” in an unmarked car opened fire on him. ‘They took him to Salmaniya hospital and he was martyred there at 4:30.'”

Extreme thrills at F1 village (Gulf Daily News)

“Passengers will be taken on an almost one-minute ride to the top of a tower and hear a countdown before being released to free fall 36 metres and swing across Bahrain International Circuit (BIC)’s F1 Village at speeds of up to 120kph.”

The principal reasons behind the successes in Formula One (The National)

“The role of team principal in Formula One is as varied as it is complicated: McLaren-Mercedes’s principal does not do the same job as Force India’s, nor do either men undertake the same duties as the man in charge of the Ferrari team.”

Comment of the day

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about Sergio Perez joining Ferrari. Bananarama makes the case for the switch:

I think Perez at Ferrari wouldn?t be a bad thing for either side. He is talented but inexperienced, he can learn extremely much in such a big team and especially from a driver like Alonso who is possibly the best out there (my opinion). Once Alonso decides it was enough for him, Perez will be the experienced one in the team and maybe get a new promising one by his side. Or Hamilton or Vettel.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to MajorMilou, Nico Savidge and Ripping Silk!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Happy birthday to F1’s oldest surviving world champion, Sir Jack Brabham, who turns 86 today.

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117 comments on Bahrain protesters turn attention to F1 race

  1. alexf1man (@alexf1man) said on 2nd April 2012, 9:13

    Surely WRC is fixed so that Loeb is ALWAYS the champion (apart from 2003, where he lead going into the final meeting according to Wiki).

    No wonder why they lost their TV contract, because it’s so predictable that regardless of the racing, Loeb will win the title as others are given stupid penalties.

  2. thesternowl (@thesternowl) said on 2nd April 2012, 9:16

    I’ve got a question: how many of those who have posted comments on this thread have actually been to Bahrain, let alone been there in the last 15 months. I think that might give us some perspective. For what it’s worth, I’m an American who used to live in Bahrain and I just spent a very pleasant weekend there just this last week. Bahrain is arguably the most developed country in the Arab world in terms of infrastrucure, culture and education. Even more so than the Emirates. I can tell you that the situation in Bahrain is much more complex than what the media has been portraying and certainly more complex than what many on this thread have implied via their ill-informed comments.

    First: let’s get one thing straight. This is not about oil. Bahrain has too little of the stuff left for it to be a big deal so for the few of you that believe that, please blot that out of your minds.

    Second: the “problem” in Bahrain has been a problem for a very long time. It was a problem when the race was first staged in 2004 and it was a problem when I lived there back in the early-mid ’90s. The problem is not new; only the escalation and frequency of the protests are. Most of you already know this but just in case you don’t, Bahrain has a Sunni minority ruling a Shiite majority and it’s been that way for a long, long time. The overwhelming majority of Bahraini’s, regardless of relgious or policial beliefs are trying to live there lives just as you and I are. It’s the small percentage that are protesting and to be honest, there is plenty of evidence that the they are being supported by outside influencers that have other motives (largely, anything that would continue to disrupt the status quo in the Arab world since the Arab Spring). Now, to be fair, the rulers of Bahrain have made some really poor choices in the past. But they are determined to make progress through compromise. For the first time ever in the Arab world, the Kingdom of Bahrain invited an outside, independant panel to study their unique problem and make suggestions on how they can fix it. The group submitted their report at the end of last year that highlighted 30 different actions that need to take place in order to improve the conditions for all Bahraini people. The King then demanded that those 30 areas of improvement be rectified within 90 days. A few weeks back, the 90 days was up and the King requested a report on progress. The report showed that 17 of the 30 actions have been completed with the remaining 13 in various stages of completion. Obviously, they are not finished. I think right now, more than ever, the people of Bahrain (both Sunni and Shiite) want to coexist together in harmony and are willing to use diplomacy as a means to do it. As usual, it’s a small group of people who are making things difficult for many. I think this is a major reason why Bahrain is pushing for the race to move forward. Like it or not, F1 is very political…anything that has that much $$$$ surrounding it usually is. Whether it’s right or not, it’s just the way it is. Bahrain wants to try and prove to the outside world that improvements are being made and that the problem is not as widespread as it is portrayed in the media. We’ll see what happens in a few weeks…

    • Nigel said on 2nd April 2012, 9:30

      If it’s such a “small group” of people, why did up to 20% of the population turn out to protest earlier this month ?

      • vjanik said on 2nd April 2012, 11:14

        quote from your link: “The security forces fired tear gas at a small group of protesters, but the rally was mostly peaceful.”

        thesternowl was talking about violence, not peaceful protests.

        • Nigel said on 2nd April 2012, 11:57

          Was he ?
          No mention of violence in his post:
          “It’s the small percentage that are protesting and to be honest, there is plenty of evidence that the they are being supported by outside influencers that have other motives…”

          Doesn’t quite square with the accounts of March 9th:
          “…On 9 March 2012, hundreds of thousands protested in one of the biggest anti-govemrent rallies to date. According to CNN, the march “filled a four-lane highway between Duraz and Muksha”.[141] Reuters photographer estimated the number to be over 100,000[29] while opposition activist estimated the number to be between 100,000[30] and 250,000.[31] Nabeel Rajab, president of BCHR called the march “the biggest in our history”.[29]
          The march was called for by Sheikh Isa Qassim, Bahrain’s top Shia cleric. Protesters called for downfall of King and the release of imprisoned political leaders. The protest ended peacefully, however hundreds of youth tried to march back to the site of the now demolished symbolic Pearl roundabout, and were dispersed by security forces with tear gas…”

          • thesternowl (@thesternowl) said on 2nd April 2012, 12:18

            Nigel: This is what the media is reporting. If you were to take it seriously, you would expect Bahrain to be absolute pandemonium. I was just there this past weekend. I drove all around the island (which isn’t very hard to do) and everything looks and feels very normal. Yes, there are isolated skirmishes. I witnessed one that invloved a grand total of 5 people. It’s a shame as I hate to see any group of people choose violence as a means to get their point across. But this stuff is hardly pervasive.

            BTW: your post does nothing to disprove my statement. Just because a local cleric calls for the fall of the current King doesn’t mean he isn’t being supported or encouraged to do so by an outside force. Are you really being that naive or are you posting this stuff just for the sake of argument? I will say this again: Bahrain’s issues are far more complex than the media is reporting, from what I have witnessed and from the accounts of friends who have lived there for their entire lives. There is a definite problem, but people need to get educated and look at what’s really going on instead of blindly following a very biased media.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 2nd April 2012, 19:50

      First of all, thank you @thesternowl for adding to the discussion with views of someone who has actually been in Bahrain.

      But I have one big problem with what you say, and that is, that you expect to know the situation well, even though you seem to believe only one side of the story yourself, the government promoted side. Its certainly more than the poor FIA delegate who let himself be shown only the nice parts, but still, its only one-sided.

      In your posts you claim as truth several things that are factually wrong and even when some of those come from the same sources you quote. It is much the same as what I have seen on the ‘net posted by “loyal” Bahraini, but sadly ignoring the truth. It seems that sometimes its easier to see the whole picture when not being in the middle of it.

      1. The report ordered by the king actually was fully clear on there being not a single indication for foreign involvement in the protests. It was not needed, as the problems, as you write, are long standing and unresolved.
      2. The government has been talking about addressing issues, but only minor things are really moving.
      3. This movement was coming from a large part of the (largely Shiite) population, and a mass protest called for by a prominent Cleric happened only very recently. Add to that that reports as linked to by Keith, showing the government does nothing to protect all citizens, rather it looks like it condones violence by militant groups agains those protesting again the regime.
      4. look at a report about long term, regular shooting teargas in villages to keep people from going out at night and protesting – that is nothing like your

      Yes, there are isolated skirmishes. I witnessed one that invloved a grand total of 5 people.

      Now, I know that its hard to know what is going on exactly in Bahrain, but the big mistake made by many Bahraini, and by you, when trying to convince the rest of the world its all fine is that in belittling it, you only show that you do not want to see the complete truth yourselves.

      To wrap it up, I am convinced that reputable media, human rights organizations, locals voicing their opinions about the situation and the report to the King all show that Bahrain was in a deplorable state last year, and not much positive has been done to solve that situation.
      That leads me to believe, that safety will be a big concern come the race weekend. And I fully agree with you, that there’s a lot of money involved, so its bound to get political as well either way.
      Let me add to that, that the link posted (i think by Nigel) to pitpass speaking about the worth of media coverage for sponsors in Bahrain, shows how bad this could actually turn out for all these corporate partners of F1 if violence does escalate around the race.

      • thesternowl (@thesternowl) said on 2nd April 2012, 21:50

        @BasCB: Based on many of your retorts, I think you’re reading waaaay too much into what I wrote instead of what I actually wrote. I don’t “expect to know the situation well”, only better than most people who have never lived or spent any real time there. And where did you ever get that I claimed something as “truth”? I looked back through what I wrote earlier and I can’t find that anywhere…? Forget what you think I implied, that won’t help you, me or anyone else on this thread for that matter. I’m only trying to share some perspective. I never said I was pro-Bahraini government, I just wanted to offer everyone else some of the other side of the story, the one that doesn’t get press coverage because it sounds like propoganda. Additionally, I never said that they should carry on with the race and yes, it has HUGE potential to backfire. What I have shared is what I have witnessed with my eyes (which you and many others have not) and heard with my ears from conversations I have had with people I know who are Bahraini (and pro-change in the status quo). In addition, I get plenty of perspective from KSA (where I’m currently living). All that being said, I’m not the expert. Just someone who is a little closer to the situation than most.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 2nd April 2012, 22:05

          Hm, @thesternowl I see we agree on the danger of putting this race up there. As stated in my earlier comment, I am glad you have added your view to the discussion, as someone who can relate to more of personal experience as many.

          When I say you claim something to be the truth, when in fact this not only seems to be like Regime-propaganda, but it in fact is just that, its the impression you convey from lines like the one about everything being normal. And plenty of evidence of outside influence. And the protests being only a small group of people wasting things for the rest.
          All of those claims are factually not true.
          Therefore, when you present them as fact despite that, for me it lowers the quality of your assessment of the situation, as it is based on false information. That is a shame, as it would be really good to have a more balanced view of what is going on.

          • thesternowl (@thesternowl) said on 2nd April 2012, 22:58

            @BasCB: You speak about impressions and how I conveyed this or that…but seriously, let’s just stick with what I wrote instead. It’s better that way…mostly because it’s what I actually wrote. If you wanna talk about what kind of impression it makes on you then I suggest we find another thread attached to a blog about psychology…but I’d reeeeeally have to be convinced that conversation would be worth our time. Really, this is a simple reading and comprehension thing. Taking lines out of context doesn’t help you or your argument…I don’t think I need to wax poetic on that. My information isn’t false…heck it’s not even a question of true or false! It’s my first hand experience. It’s information I am getting first hand. If you want to sit here and tell me that my experiences have been factually not true…then rationality has completely left this conversation and I’ll abstain from further posts.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 3rd April 2012, 19:26

            @thesternowl, OK …

            I pointed out several parts of your post as not true. Instead of playing on the person, can you actually relate to the content of my post, just as I reacted to what you wrote?

            There is NO evidence of foreign interest. There IS a lot of evidence of Bahrain currently being in more turmoil than isolated skirmishes, if its deemed necessary to regularly use tear gas in larger areas in Bahrain.

            For the question of how much progress there has been made on improving the situation, that is harder to establish. But from the widespread unrest present, it seems a large portion of the Bahrain population is not satisfied with it.

  3. Funkyf1 said on 2nd April 2012, 12:50

    I find it hard to comprehend why ppl don’t see the danger in going to Bahrain. There is unrest there, the locals are not happy and the will continue to protest. Imagine your favourite driver was killed or his mechanic or his brother, their pr personal, the guy who drives the truck or the marshall on turn 3! Then you’ll ask yourself, why did we race in country and put our people at risk? Everything comes at cost, but no money can a buy a life.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 2nd April 2012, 15:09

      I will admit right off the bat that I don’t feel qualified whatsoever to speak on this matter such is my lack of education/experience on it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t watch the news or have a basic understanding of what is happening globally.

      I tend to trust the likes of thesternowl who has first hand experience of being in Bahrain…certainly as opposed to Wikipedia and CNN as cited by Nigel. I said I watch the news but I don’t trust CNN as far as I can throw them, and I consider Wiki as just a basic source that ignores a lot of details.

      What I believe is this…there is a global movement away from ruling regimes that grab everything for themselves leaving their citizens impoverished. And there will be some short-term pain in order to achieve long-term gain in this area.

      As Funkyf1 states…’Everything comes at cost, but no money can a buy a life.’ That said, millions of lives have been lost in the fight for freedom and democracy, sometimes in global wars. World wars were not about money, but about freedom and democracy. And thanks to the sacrifices of many many souls, F1 has the freedom to be an entity that millions enjoy on a global level.

      I’m thinking right now about how it is for our Canadian Prime Minister when he visits China…he has to go over there and appear as much as possible as a representative of Canada to be disappointed and not in agreement with communism and human rights violations and ruling with an iron fist in an undemocratic manner, all the while not being able to come across as preachy and insulting to the Chinese Government such that they deny business to take place between the two counties. Harper wants trade and jobs created by selling our rich natural resources to China, all the while appearing to not agree with how they run their country. All the while, China is making improvements and is becoming more Western by the day.

      The bottom line for me is that I believe peaceful protests should be allowed and should hopefully make way for democratic processes to occur. As soon as protestors make it violent, while I understand their passion and frustration that sometimes they feel that is all that is left for them, they are no better for it.

      Of course I understand concern for people’s safety. But I also understand that as soon as we let fear rule the day the ‘terrorists/dictators’ have won. ie. I tend to lean toward F1 running away from Bahrain as symbolizing fear ruling the day.

      I also think that ironically BE believes dictatorship is a way to get things done more quickly and to him having to hold a vote for everything, get the majority consensus on every little thing, bogs things down and slows his view of how he would like to see things progress. But it is the better way to go nonetheless. When people have a chance to have their say in a democratic process, then win or lose at least at the end of the day they can say they had their say.

      • Nigel said on 2nd April 2012, 15:23

        “I tend to trust the likes of thesternowl who has first hand experience of being in Bahrain…certainly as opposed to Wikipedia and CNN as cited by Nigel.”

        So you deny that there was a protest involving a fifth of the population at the beginning of March ? Are you suggesting that the pictures are fakes (even the Bahraini government hasn’t gone that far) ?
        You prefer the comment of an anonymous poster to the observations of journalists ?

        As for the comparisons with China, is anyone seriously suggesting that, were to be a street protest involving 5 million people in Shanghai (around the same percentage of the local population), we wouldn’t be having second thoughts about the GP there also ?

        I am far from an absolutist in these matters, but as simple pragmatism, it seems to me foolish not to be very concerned indeed about the consequences of holding the race in Bahrain.

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 2nd April 2012, 16:10

          No I don’t deny there was a protest, or that there are protests…it is the tone of the protest(s) that I suggest might not be the same as the likes of CNN might like to portray in their insatiable appetite to sell headlines. I do trust the BBC much moreso than the likes of CNN and the BBC portrays it as an overwhelmingly peaceful protest. That said, I believe most media entities are run by people who have a certain political opinion/leaning and twist their headlines accordingly.

          In terms of the ‘anonymous’ poster thesternowl…you make a good point that he may be someone who is not portraying entirely who he is or what his agenda is, but I don’t often immediately default to paranoia so I have taken him at his word that he has some first-hand experience and does not have an agenda to sell a headline for the sake of monetary gain.

          I don’t think anywhere in my above post I have expressed that we shouldn’t be concerned about the situation in Bahrain and in China. I’m just concerned that running away from those countries out of fear is not the way to progress globally. Thank goodness people didn’t run away from Nazi Germany and leave Hitler of his own devices, but rather ran toward him to stand up to him and say enough is enough, sacrificing so much in the process. Amongst the consequences of that bravery to stand up…freedom, democracy, and the right to peacefully protest.

          Having said that, no I don’t expect those involved in bringing and running a F1 race in Bahrain to sacrifice themselves for the cause. I cannot determine, from this chair, how safe/unsafe those involved will or won’t be. I just have this general feeling that running away is not the way to progress and must leave it up to experts to determine the level of risk and to weigh the pros and the cons.

        • bearforce1 (@bearforce1) said on 3rd April 2012, 1:46

          @Nigel, Unfortunately most people and organisations have an agenda. Even CNN make things a little juicier for the story.

          As most people are saying we don’t really know the full story and it is probably somewhere in between.

          I would say that it is in the interests of the protesters to turn the demonstrations violent to gain maximum media coverage. Conversely it is in the interests of the Bahrain government to smooth things over peacefully if they can to avoid negative portrayal.

          I do believe @nesterowl when he says there is a violent minority ruining it for all, whether it be people trying to effect change peacefully or the Bahrain government trying to resist change/slow reform peacefully.

          Lastly we should avoid giving into the violent minority by cancelling the race because it only shows that violent protests will achieve results and inspire others to act similarly. Also simply because F1 is or should be sport like the Olympics free from Boycotts and cancellations.

  4. Fixy (@fixy) said on 2nd April 2012, 16:40

    I want the race in Bahrain to happen. But definitely not if these protests and shootings go on.

  5. HawksFan (@hawksfan) said on 3rd April 2012, 5:55

    Money talks… thats all it is to Bernie.. that is what is importent to him money.. (imho)

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