I would look further than just ‘are the teams safe’?. Think about the significance of the race from both the governments and protesters point of view.
Firstly lets assess what Bahraini government would do:
They will be aiming to use the race to portray an image of normality and peace, of safety and success. They will see the race as a vote of confidence in the governing of the country, They will be trying to show the world that the country is open for business, They will be moving heaven and earth to cover up the protests and shielding the worlds cameras from ongoing protests. They will be ensuring spectators don’t see any protests and they’ll probably chaperone them. They would be likely to control where the spectators/tourists are allowed to go during their stay in the country. After all the government will be trying to say to the world – look all is well here.
Now on the flip side of the coin lets assess the position of the protesters:
They will be aiming to use the race to their advantage, to reach out the world to highlight their plight. They will do their level best to get in front of the camera’s and they would definitely be protesting in areas where there will be foreigners who’ve come to watch the race – its a sure fire way to get your message out. They know that if they protest there, the police will come and beat them – the foreigners will be sure to see this and it will be contrary to the image portrayed by the government. So clearly it would be in their interest to dramatically increase protests in the run up to and during the race knowing full well that the government will not allow it – resulting in tear gas, beatings, arrests and outright violence. All this in front of the camera’s and world’s media.
As you can see its not good from either view is it?
The race itself will essentially become a fly trap (excuse the analogy here). In that the race will attract protesters desperate to use the opportunity, this in turn will attract a heavy security clampdown, violence etc. The protestors will get wounded or killed. We can avoid this fly trap occurring by cancelling the race and thus stop people needlessly getting hurt or killed.
So now that we’ve done a brief assessment of both sides we can see clearly that Bahrain is not a good location to stage the grand prix. It is my belief that both parties in Bahrain will seek to take political advantage of the race. Both will be trying to use the race to get their message out to the world.
It is better and more dignified for Bernie and the FIA to cancel the race to avoid it from being used as a political football. There is no need to become involved in the situation in Bahrain.
One final point: the government there are sure to protect the teams and their staff, but can they realistically provide the same level of protection to all the spectators?