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The right race in the wrong place?

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Andrew Benson | 16:09 UK time, Sunday, 22 April 2012

Sebastian Vettel gave this already fascinating Formula 1 world championship another huge twist at the Bahrain Grand Prix with his first victory of the season.

What looked for a while like it might turn into a carbon-copy of so many of the Red Bull driver's wins on his way to the title last year - pole, blitz the start, consolidate lead - turned into a fascinating battle with the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen.

The Finn showed all his old skill and consistency as he climbed from 11th place on the grid to take second place. In so doing, Raikkonen finally delivered on the potential of a car that has looked capable of this sort of result since the start of the season and proved he has lost nothing in his two years away in rallying.

The result, and a nightmare race for McLaren, leaves the championship finely poised going into a three-week break before the Spanish Grand Prix, with Vettel leapfrogging from fifth overall to first and only a handful of points covering all the top five.

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All of this, though, has been completely overshadowed by the situation outside the track, and the controversy over F1's decision to return to Bahrain despite ongoing civil unrest in the Gulf state.

The race has dominated the news agenda over the weekend and, for those involved in the sport, it has not been pretty.

Most people could see the situation F1 has found itself in this weekend coming from miles away, but if the sport's bosses did, they are doing a good job of hiding it.

Last year's Bahrain Grand Prix was cancelled following the violent suppression of protests which were part of the Arab Spring that swept across much of the Middle East.

Troubles have continued, despite promises by the ruling royal family to instigate reform following a critical independent report last November, which detailed human rights abuses, including wrongful arrests and torture. Amnesty International says the situation in Bahrain is "not much different" from a year ago.

Yet F1 chose to return, FIA president Jean Todt and commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone believing the claims of the authorities that the situation was much improved and that they could guarantee security.

It did not take long for that last claim to be exposed. Returning from the track on Wednesday evening, down the main highway into the capital Manama, four Force India mechanics were caught between protestors on one side of the road and riot police on the other.

The protestors were throwing petrol bombs at the police, who were responding with tear gas. Petrol bombs flew over the car, and one landed worryingly close.

The whole incident lasted no more than two or three minutes, but it clearly spooked those involved - and the rest of their team, who subsequently chose to skip second practice on Friday so they could return to their hotels before dark. A decision made despite an intervention by Ecclestone.

Most F1 personnel encountered no trouble. But the unrest continued throughout the weekend, and on Friday night a protestor was killed.

Vettel, who had described the controversy over the race as "hype" when he arrived on Thursday, was forced to think again. "It's always dreadful when someone dies," he said after qualifying on pole position.

For all the protestations from Todt and Ecclestone about sport staying apart from politics, the grand prix has become part of the argument in Bahrain.

The protests are not specifically directed at the race, but it is seen as a legitimate target because it is so closely identified with the ruling Sunni royal family, who set it up as a global promotional tool for the country and by extension their regime.

The race organisers - effectively the royal family themselves - have overtly politicised the event by promoting it with posters using the F1 logo in the middle of the slogan "UniF1ed", in a country that is clearly anything but.

Protesters in Bahrain

Protests have targeted Formula 1 both inside Bahrain and across the world. Photo: Getty

Ecclestone's and Todt's responses to this - that they cannot control how people promote their races (Ecclestone) or that the slogan can be interpreted in lots of ways (Todt) - are debatable at best. Some have called it sophistry.

If F1's bosses thought they could go to Bahrain, pick up the huge pay cheque for the race, and get out without any damage to their or the sport's reputation, they have been disabused of that notion in the starkest terms.

On Saturday, Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn - who, behind the scenes, has been one of the senior figures most opposed to holding the Bahrain race - said F1 "with proper judgement of what happened and what we saw needed to come to a conclusion".

I am told by senior insiders that the many of the sport's bosses have been staggered by the extent to which the sport's name has been dragged through the mud this weekend, as well as the focus on it by major global news organisations.

Quite apart from the obvious moral and personal safety issues involved, this is clearly a commercial concern. F1 is selling a dream and an aspiration. But the dream has this weekend become a nightmare - and there has been nothing aspirational about the image the sport has presented to the world.

F1 being what it is, if anything will make them wake up to the potential consequences of racing in Bahrain, that will be it.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Sorry BBC, but your coverage of this race was horrendous. 1hr 35 minutes of race condensed down into a 50 minute chunk.

    Chopping all over the place, completely impossible to follow the action, completely destroyed any sense of the race and strategy unfolding, no tension, no pay-off, total waste of time.

    If this is going to be the quality of the highlights packages, then this season of F1 just isn't going to be worth following. Very very sad.

    And I think it's a very bad decision to have cut almost half the race, and given us 20 minutes of interviews at the end. Those 20 minutes would have been much better spent showing us, I don't know, some more of the actual race maybe.

    Very very disappointing.

  • Comment number 2.

    painterz, I disagree, I think the editing is really well done to keep a sense of continuity throughout the race. We saw all the action (and nothing like the ITV adverts of old). Personally I miss the F1 Forum so I enjoy the interviews post-race as well.

  • Comment number 3.

    No continuity; too little racing and too many interviews.
    For me, this was the worst F1 experience since ITV had the races

  • Comment number 4.

    I agree with Painterz. I thought the coverage today by the BBC was terrible. What was the point in even broadcasting the race at all? and the post-race analysis and interviews were a complete waste of time. So please let me congratulate the BBC on their award winning F1 coverage... You might just get the golden toilet award this year and you'll be able to put your coverage in the award... right where it deserves to be!

  • Comment number 5.

    What an over-stated, hyped up article.
    "But the dream has this weekend become a nightmare."
    I'm not saying that F1's image hasn't possibly been tarnished because of Bahrain, but this blog is a pathetic attempt to strike up a stir, a more grounded argument could have actually made some valid points, this is just typical media rubbish.

  • Comment number 6.

    Could not bring myself to watch the race on sky the highlites program needs to be longer this one was a bit of a joke and not a very good one.
    Dont want to get into the sky debate Ill let the blogs sky sales team do that.

    I think as the bahrein royal family are so tied into the sport holding the race there while people are fighting and dieing for their rights was not a good idea there been no improvement since last year the brutal crackdown in prisonment and in some cases murder goes to show berine and the fia really dont care as long as the get their money no matter how bloody it is and as long as their safty is taken care of.

    Really quite sicking to thing to think that f1 can be used to prop up anyone who likes to brutalise their own people if the price is right.

  • Comment number 7.

    What is up with McLaren? They are just ruining Jenson and Lewis races, Lewis had two bad stops in Sepang, jenson in china, and another two today for Lewis and the mechanical failure that cost Jenson points. They are making amateur mistakes.

  • Comment number 8.

    Yes it's rediculous to have 20 minutes analysis in an 80 minutes highlight show but to be honest, I don't really care anymore.

    Once again, formula one has shown itself to be completely unaware of the real world and it's lack of any morals is increadable.

    Most outragous comment of the weekend (excluding Ecclestone, because you can't take anything he says serriously), was Vettels wonderfull "tyre temperature and cars" comment.

    I've pretty much given up on F1, the sport i've loved since I was 7.

  • Comment number 9.

    And why isn't there a link to this blog on the front page? Afraid to give people a forum to air their unhappiness at the programming again?

  • Comment number 10.

    Sorry to all those trying to do their job and fulfil contractual obligations by going to Bahrain, but for the first time in 20+ years I've missed an entire F1 race weekend. I simply couldn't bring myself to see the pathetic sight of cars going around a track, in a country where people are protesting on the streets.

    Would appear that I missed a good race & quali, but sometimes a person has to draw a line in the sand.

    Wishing everyone a safe journey home....my gripe isn't with the BBC, I appreciate that you had a job to do.

  • Comment number 11.

    The race should never have gone ahead ...but that aside it was quite exciting plenty of overtakes the only downer being the massive upsurge in fortune for the Bieber and the Dead Dull team finally unlocking the potential of the car rather alarming for us the Fans as we do not need a repeat of last season the worst and most boring one i have watched in 20 years the only bright point today being the performance of the Lotus and what happened to Mclaren aside from the pitstops which were awful what a shocker the car has no pace fighting with the Ferraris whats that all about what a turn around.And finally the comments Schumacher made to the BBC team after the race about the tyre deg not being what F1 really all about i TOTALLY agree with.

  • Comment number 12.

    Andrew, as BBC's Chief F1 SPORTS writer, why are you spending the majority of your blog commenting on issues besides SPORTS and F1?. I'm sure if you wanted to make a POLITICAL statement as you have with this piece, the BBC could have found you another forum on which to air your views.
    On your SPORTS blog, I would expect the coverage to focus on issues pertaining to the action of todays race, especially in light of the fact BBC only had a "highlights" or F1 light version available for viewers in the UK.

  • Comment number 13.

    We've had four races this year so far and three of them have been shown as highlights on the BBC. The first two were quite well done and I enjoyed them both but either because of seeing a live race last week or because of poor editing, this one was fairly awful. I lost track of what was happening and where drivers were - all of a sudden we were in the pits and then suddenly Raikkonen was closing up to Vettel - if this is to be the quality in future, I might not bother with these highlights. If you're going to have a 1hr 20min show then have five mins before and after for talk and give us the maximum amount of race time...please!

  • Comment number 14.

    What a load of tosh and hypocrisy from the BBC, who have their Sports News Correspondent sharing the TV screen with the F1 presenting team, reporting on the unrest in Bahrain and whether the teams should have boycotted the event, and there are the good old Beeb broadcasting the very same event (badly, in highlights only form, as it happens)!

    If it was that much of a moral issue then the BBC should have boycotted the event, it's not as though it was one of their ration of 10 live races anyway. Didn't hear much criticism of the Chinese Grand Prix last weekend, a State that has a much longer & more odious Human Rights record.

    Anyway, where was Eddie today, and why no Red Button Forum?

    And finally, where are the usual Lewis fanboys with their conspiracy theories about McLaren deliberately ruining Lewis's race again with their shocking pit stops, we could do with a laugh?!

  • Comment number 15.

    I'm struggling to find anything positive out of the Bahrain GP all the way from the decision to take it there in the first place right through to the coverage by the BBC, if your going to put on a show thats only 1hr 20 minutes long at least try to cover as much of the race as possible.

    Not impressed at all especially since I spent most of the day avoiding any sort of media so I could watch the race without knowing the result, wish I hadn't bothered.

  • Comment number 16.

    Congratulations to Kim, Roman and the Lotus (Renault) team today for a fine result, and congratulations to Seb on another convincing drive, pole position, race win and fastest lap. Perhaps Andrew ought to revisit his previous blog about Mark Webber turning the tables on Sebastian Vettel this year at Red Bull!

  • Comment number 17.

    Thought it was a great race today and really enjoyed seeing Bahrain back on the calendar. The new Pirelli tyres and DRS added to the show and made the spectacle far more exciting than previous races at Sakhir.

  • Comment number 18.

    Ooops, should be Kimi of course, not Kim!

  • Comment number 19.

    Sadly I have to agree with most comments posted re the coverage, it was awfull and an insult to the millions of fans who continue to support BBC coverage. Don't take the micky out of us please BBC. Remember we have no option BUT to pay the licience fee.

  • Comment number 20.

    Yeah the highlights program was a bit poor this week. Its been good for the first two races, so this was quite disappointing. Why can't we have a longer highlights program???????

  • Comment number 21.

    What a load of BS, a shocking display from the BBC over the highlights. I have to say watching the highlights from previous races , I was very impressed with the standard and enjoyed them but today, it was a shocker. It looked to me like they were doing a quick in and out job, to get out of Bahrain ASAP. I do hope the standard improves but will have to wait because the next two GPs are live. Great race by the way even though they cut like 10 laps off at one point.

  • Comment number 22.

    @8
    "I've pretty much given up on F1, the sport i've loved since I was 7."

    Bit strange to be commenting on an F1 blog then, if you've given up on the sport...

    Another good race today, would've loved to have seen Kimi get more of a chance to properly hassle Vettel, you can definitely see him pushing for more wins this season.
    Strange race from the Mercs, seem to have taken 1 step forward 2 steps back from last week and another shocker from Mclaren in the pits, for once i'd say Hamilton has a right to have a moan!

  • Comment number 23.

    I thought it was a reasonable race today, at least based on Bahrain's standards of years gone by. I watched most of the race itself on Sky this afternoon, and the program on the BBC this evening, for some of the post-race analysis. The Sky's post-race interviews and analysis, with the exception of Brundle, is woeful at best and Damon Hill is a poor addition to their team. Lots to say but offered nothing insightful or remotely educational to the viewer, and made anyone he interviewed seem uncomfortable with his barely existent sense of humour.

    In terms of the highlights package and the race coverage itself, the 50 minutes worth was just about right in my opinion and covered most, if not all of the major talking points that took place throughout this one. Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't believe Jordan has been present at any of the races which the BBC hasn't broadcasted live thus far. Perhaps it's something in the contract.

    Congratulations to Seb for yet another masterclass in leading from the front. The Lotus looked mighty on this circuit, and should they continue to bring upgrades and develop the car throughout the European season, I full expect them to be battling the Silver Arrow for 3rd spot in the constructors.

    Back to the European Season, and with the exception of Valencia, every race will be worth a watch!

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    A poor highlights show I thought. Disjointed editing, and did they really need to waste time with so many replays of a fairly incident-free start?
    Had to feel for Button and Hamilton -McLaren are on course to lose the championship from the pits unless they get their act together. But great work by Di Resta, and at least Force India made it onto the TV screens today.
    Schumacher said it all, Pirelli have been given too much control. Race strategy seems to mean tyre management and little else. That's not racing.

  • Comment number 26.

    @14 I wondered where EJ was as well - maybe he only appears for the live stuff??

  • Comment number 27.

    23. At 19:58 22nd Apr 2012, xenosys2005 wrote:

    ....Back to the European Season, and with the exception of Valencia, every race will be worth a watch!

    ====

    Shame the Valencia borefest is one of the 10 live races on the Beeb then!

  • Comment number 28.

    Terrible highlights package BBC. Thank god I watched it live on Sky.

    PS Politics should go in the politics blogs. You have plenty of them.

  • Comment number 29.

    Another unbelievable performance by Alonso. How's he managing to get points with this car, only he knows. His performances this season alone, provide the proof that he is the greatest driver on the grid.

  • Comment number 30.

    bahrain didn't dissapoint in continueing it's pattern of boring races. and to add to a dull race was victory for the bore-meister himself. put simply this race wasn't worth all the controversy and a dead local

  • Comment number 31.

    In reply to Painterz and all the other armchair critics...

    I watched the race in full and to be frank it didn't have the strongest narrative compared to other recent races anyway.

    The main threads of interest were Di Resta and Kobayashi on 2 stops (vs. the remaining field's 3 stops), Raikkonen chasing down Vettel due to a tyre advantage (and some excellent skill in the opening phase) and seeing how many way McLaren could ruin their own race.

    I'm not an expert on the BBC's contract with FOM, surprisingly, but I'm sure that the amount of race footage they show is the maximum allowed. So by sacrificing interviews you would have a shorter show, not a longer race.

    I think the issues have been reworded and rewritten in a hundred different ways regarding the race in Bahrain in the last week. It seems clear that F1 should not have travelled there, however it is not the first poor decision F1 has made and it certainly won't be the last.

    What is really shameful is there has been more articles, radio shows, news content and action in the houses of parliament over the race in the last week than there has been on the human rights abuses in the last 12 months.

    The race was confirmed on the calendar in around October last year. That would be an appropriate time to raise objections, not when the teams have arrived and running there cars. The politicians we simply objecting as it's good PR rather than to affect any change.

  • Comment number 32.

    The highlights coverage wasn't great, the 5live radio made it sound much more exciting than it eventually was on screen though so have a listen there! Regarding the political indignation of the race taking place, irrespective of whether it should or shouldn't, you have to be consistent to have a credible voice. As far as I'm aware, last week's race took place in Shanghai, that's China, that great proponent of democracy and defender of human rights. Didn't hear any of the politicians shouting about F1 going to that massive economic nation strangely........nevertheless, please pick up your game on the highlights BBC, however good it is, radio is not a viable alternative for motor racing.

  • Comment number 33.

    Hmm, the Forum appears to be only available online, and the content doesn't work, not on my laptop, at least. Shame, as the highlight seems to be Jake & DC interviewing Martin Brundle of Sky F1!

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    30. At 20:14 22nd Apr 2012, david

    Boring? Did you watch a different race?

  • Comment number 36.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 37.

    Carrying forth the Bahrain GP is a scar on sport. By justifying brutal desposts; F1 fails to carry the moral burden that comes with sport.
    http://www.uncoveredinterests.com/2012/04/f1-ignominy.html

  • Comment number 38.

    Well, well well, what do you know Sebastian has the diffuser back and he is smiling again. Webber, Hamilton and Button drive the cars with no diffuser but they are the best. I dont think Sebastian, Kimi and Gorjean won fairly, with the diffuser yes, THE BOYS WERE MISERABLE on normal cars, nOW f1 WILL BE ONE MAN SHOW ALL OVER AGAIN. IT IS RUINED AGAIN.

  • Comment number 39.

    Well done Kimi. Some genuine overtakes (not just the DRS ones) on a track that doesn't have many overtaking opportunities. However that was most likely due to his brand spanking new tyres.

    I know I say this all the time but I absolutely hate the DRS/tyre degradation situation. What's the point in harping on about the number of overtakes if any mug on the grid can overtake provided he has better tyres or is in the DRS zone. I want to see overtakes due to a drivers superior skill rather than anything else.

  • Comment number 40.

    Do not care how good the editing team is, you cannot take out so much of the race without destroying the character and tension of the live race. I watch it live on Sky and then watch the highlights on the beeb and must say that the only part of the BBC show that seemed alive was Jake and DC interviewing Martin Brundle on the forum. The magic is still there between the three of them. I would love to see the BBC and Sky getting together to do a joint Forum after each race. (Wishful thinking I know as it would benefit the fans.) As for the race its self superb racing well done to Red bull and Lotus

  • Comment number 41.

    I am sick of these holier than though, anti race protesters who think the F1 should not have taken place.
    So do we allow every person who has a legitimate grievance to use the coming Olympic Games for a platform to protest?
    They will, now you idiots have given them succor!!
    From the idiot who stopped the boat race to the fanatic who wants to blow himself to bits and take a few with him. Even perhaps contaminate half of London.
    You are plain stupid!!
    Sport is for the hard working, talented individuals who train for years, inspiring us and our children.
    PLEASE KEEP POLITICS OUT OF SPORT!!

  • Comment number 42.

    This has got nothing to do with tyres, I think they should remove diffusers, that wipe the smile on boring drivers.

  • Comment number 43.

    Well done to seb and the lotus duo. Real shame about the mclarens today, especially for Lewis who has shown maturity and consistency so far this season. How much more disappointment can he take??

    Also, what do you guys think about rosbergs driving tactics defending Hamilton and alonso??

  • Comment number 44.

    38. At 20:52 22nd Apr 2012, annabeldodds

    What diffuser would that be, that was available to only one member of Red Bull? As far as I am aware, ALL the cars have a rear diffuser, unless you have a link to a source that says different.

  • Comment number 45.

    Not all cars have the same diffuser, If he had this all along how come he had no pace from the first 3 races.

  • Comment number 46.

    Those who don't like Pirelli and DRS should remember that when we had Bridgestone tyres and no DRS we didn't see cars overtaken by the exercise of skill, we saw very few overtaken at all, and most of those because of an error by the leading driver or a mechanical failure. As cars became more reliable we had more and more events where the car in the lead out of turn 1 led to the end. It was destroying the sport which I have followed since the '50s. And anyone who thinks that 'any mug' can overtake obviously has no idea at all of the skill required to drive one of these cars on the limit at racing speeds.

  • Comment number 47.

    Yes we are getting more overtaking exciting races etc but I'm starting to think that the driver that wins the WDC this year will be the luckiest rather than the best.

    The rule changes around tyres have turned F1 into a game of chance rather than a game of skill which is why we have had a different winner in each of the races so far.

  • Comment number 48.

    "I am told by senior insiders that the many of the sport's bosses have been staggered by the extent to which the sport's name has been dragged through the mud this weekend, as well as the focus on it by major global news organisations."

    They sure underestimated how callous the media is when it comes to spinning a news story. Yourself included.

    It's not surprising for the most part but it's unforgivable that some members of the motorsport press would rather exaggerate and sensationalise the off-track events in order to generate views rather than show the true picture. Proud of yourself?

  • Comment number 49.

    Take the rev limiters off, let them push their cars to the limit and you will see more retirements. These cars are bullet-proof these days. A few years back watching a leader lose it all near the end due to an engine failure was part of the excitement.

  • Comment number 50.

    Mclaren's pitstop debacles are masking the fact that the car is still not good enough. I just don't think the car is fast enough. You can see that Lewis has to really push it when qualifying.

    Really was not happy to see Vettel's index finger out again. Mclaren need to pull their fingers out.

    Oh and did anyone see Brundle's embarrassment at being interviewed by Jake on the F1 forum?

  • Comment number 51.

    the forum is about 20 minutes long ages after the race, they must have cut the front part of it off. I wanted to hear all of alonsos interview but it was cut off on the highlights. It isn't online either. It is like they are only showing half the forum on the tv..

  • Comment number 52.

    F1 and the BBC showed themselves up here. Happy to take money for the race and the BBC kept quiet about the rest. No opinion pieces for fear of losing influence/access within Bahrain and the Gulf in general. Shameful

  • Comment number 53.

    Oh and I am not happy how tyres are the main determiner of who wins a race these days. Can't we just get back to the days when intelligence, speed and bravery ruled.

  • Comment number 54.

    Before anyone starts with the theroies about sabotage and a mole in the pit crew at McLaren lets just note one thing. There is only one person responsible for McLarens abysmal pit crew and record and that is Martin Whitmarsh.

    Several pit bungles last year put Lewis way down the field and we saw the result of that as he tried to fight his way back up the field. The same thing is happening again this year and all on Whitmarsh's watch.

    The fact that this has been happening for more than a year now without Whitmarsh sorting it out tells me he is incompetent and is not up to the job.

    The points McLaren have thrown away on pit bungles over the last year must be going into the hundreds now.

    You would never have seen such a shambles with Ron Dennis at the helm, I say bring him back!!!

  • Comment number 55.

    Wow wow wow. lots of points in this

    Start with the sporting side. Best racing of the season up till the final pit stop the Lotus's were amazing great to see them coming through the field and to see a 4th winner in a 4 different cars from the first 4 races. Best start to the season in a long time.

    - Complaints over the whole weekend were a joke! How can a race go ahead with problems like "human rights" ehm china? "people protesting" ehm British students taking over London, How hypocritical. Hands up we should never have been in a country where the public and govenment is acting as they are it was a massive risk and over there we were lucky that theres been nobody from the F1 community seriously hurt by this.

    Best to forget this weekend, avoid going back to Bahrain next year and we can get back to the amazing season were having without politics taking away from how good is been.

  • Comment number 56.

    And in all of that i forgot BBC's short highlights of the race coverage was a disgrace to the licence fee. Thank goodness for SKY

  • Comment number 57.

    Brundle is too good to talk to them apparently..

  • Comment number 58.

    Where do I start...I watched a recording of the race because I had other commitments easrlier in the afternoon. Racing wise this was pretty smooth though my guys had a poor race though congrats to Vettel on his best weekend so far. Some pretty heavy damage was done though.

    Keeping politics out of sport: Great ideal but not everyone in this reality buys into it and one RL friend went as far as to say "you can't separate geopolitics from anything". As far as the human rights brigade are now concerned, F1 is a supporter of dodgy dictators. Say what you will about that mentality but that's something we can't ignore and we'll have to live with it unless Bernie and crew find a way to dissuade them.

  • Comment number 59.

    #54-Yeah watched Senna again last week and was reminded of how Ron was in that role.

  • Comment number 60.

    Sorry - meant to say how good Ron was!!

  • Comment number 61.

    I thought the race was quite good, considering the drab action it has thrown up during its existence.

    The BBC did cut it quite short I think, but then again, its Bahrain. I can't be bothered to wait 10 laps for a single overtake so countless overtakes in condensed form was more than enough for me.

    On the subject of DRS I think they got it spot on here as opposed to previous races.
    Nico should have been penalized although the stewards accounts make sense and at least Vettel had a run for his money. Long live the ICEMAN!

    What does everyone else think about the DRS effectiveness here?

  • Comment number 62.

    Sorry, there's people here moaning about tv coverage!?! It's a total disgrace that this race was ever allowed to go ahead. Still, at least Bernie will have made some more money this afternoon.

  • Comment number 63.

    poor highlights from the BBC, Shocking!!!!!

  • Comment number 64.

    Shameful weekend for F1. As a fan since 1968 I couldn't bring myself to watch the proceedings. Not really sure if I will watch future GP's either. The management by Ecclestone and his comments this weekend are a total embarrassment for the sport. Time for a change.

  • Comment number 65.

    Why is Coulthard always trying to pin the blame for any incident on Hamilton. It was laughable to see his view of Nicos incidents with Hamilton and Alonso.

    Hamilton was alonside Nico when he got pushed off and DC starts talking up a penalty for Lewis but when the same thing happens again but this time Alonso is BEHIND Nico DC says Nico is in the wrong and may get a penalty.

    If the driver stewards are as clueless as Coulthard then it's no wonder there has been so much debate about some of their decisions.

  • Comment number 66.

    Andrew, do you think Kimi's return is looking like a success or a damp squib? Do you think you might have misjudged him in the past?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/16311197

  • Comment number 67.

    Two things to say.

    1) How would all those people who are complaining about the race taking place because 'people were marching for their rights on the streets', protestors were dispersed with teargas, etc, have felt if in years gone by the British GP had been cancelled because of IRA protest marches over Catholic human rights, police and army reactions, and a threat of violence? That would have been fine would it?

    2) Yep, the coverage was awful. I don't know if the balance of (surprisingly boring) chat to race time was due to contractual limitations (maybe next time we'll just see a car cross the finish line then listen to 79 minutes discussing it), but really poor and poorly edited.

    No I'm not going to 'give up watching the sport I've loved since in my pram' or such twaddle, but won't be watching the highlights packages if they continue to fall to this standard - the others were much, much better.

  • Comment number 68.

    @67 Agree with you on disappointing coverage. I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that there's two different types of highlights programmes according to timezone differences. For the Australia and Malaysia 'extended highlights', we got about 80% of track time (which will also apply for Canada and USA). However for the other delayed coverage - Bahrain, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan and India, it appears that we're getting shorter highlights (today was appx 50% track time).
    I may be getting muddled - someone may have more detail? However there's no doubting there was shorter coverage today, and it really showed.

  • Comment number 69.

    I love the BBC even though they sold us out, their coverage is excellent at all times except today. Secondly, I have to say even though the first 3 races were fun to watch i cant help feeling it's so artificial with the tyres. I want people to race not spend their time looking after tyres! It's really a lottery, never agree with anything Schumacher has to say (only because he's not very nice) but I feel he is right. Hugs and love to all! xxx

  • Comment number 70.

    For those whose who say Sport and Politics don't mix, sorry but get real its been the case since a certain A Hitler used the 1936 Olympics to promote his theories of ayran supermacy. Later both the USA and USSR hijacked the Olympics to promote their systems. As I understand the Crown Prince of Bahrain is involved heavily with orgainsing the race, its a political race and if formula 1 has any sense they will not be back next year. Although with Ecclestone in charge and the fat fee I'm sure he will try and gert back there.

  • Comment number 71.

    Firstly Andrew, I really enjoy reading your blogs, although this is the first time I will comment on one. I have to agree with those posters saying there was not enough racing in the highlights package tonight. A suggestion would be to fill that programme with racing and put the interviews on the BBC Sport website for us to access after watching the highlights should we so wish.

    More importantly, your article makes some sound points about why F1 going to Bahrain was a bad idea from the outset. So why didn't we hear more protests from yourself and your peers in advance of the race? Maybe then it may not have gone ahead (based on the ethical concerns you raise). Bernie et. al. will feel vindicate in that the weekend passed [just about] without any injury (or worse) to F1 personnel, but this ignores the bigger picture.

  • Comment number 72.

    Telnolies, did the British government ever have a financial stake in F1 and did it ever use F1 as a demonstration of support for it's regime? Which by the way was at least elected. I think you miss the point.

  • Comment number 73.

    #12

    Sometimes other issues are more important than sport.

  • Comment number 74.

    It's amazing that so many posts are just about the standard of the programme/editing, or criticising the subject matter being discussed. It's a good piece for what it is, a thorough review of the incidents etc of the race can be found elsewhere on the website and there will never be a combination of interviews/highlights that pleases everyone.
    Fascinating race, a real shame for the Mclarens but entertaining nonetheless, and all contributing to an amazing glut of sport at the moment...

    http://samhopwood.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/is-it-possible-to-overdose-on-sport.html

  • Comment number 75.

    good blog! F1 should not have been in Bahrain, where doctors treating protester are jailed for life for helping the injured.

    For those who like to bury their head in the sand and not hear about politics, the whole race was made political by the Bahrain's ruling tribe by claiming reforms and unifications as a result of F1 race going ahead!! So if tomorrow Syria decides to host a F1 race too, then we should support that too? or Egypt at the time of the protests during the uprising that lead to an end of the Military rule of Mobarak???

    I for one not going to contribute any more to Bernie's blood money, he has no moral values. I am not watching any F1 races this season.

    Keep in mind that Bahrain's ruling family is criticised by a few protesters for their human rights abuses but Amnesty International!!!

  • Comment number 76.

    "I am sick of these holier than though, anti race protesters who think the F1 should not have taken place.
    So do we allow every person who has a legitimate grievance to use the coming Olympic Games for a platform to protest?
    They will, now you idiots have given them succor!!
    From the idiot who stopped the boat race to the fanatic who wants to blow himself to bits and take a few with him. Even perhaps contaminate half of London.
    You are plain stupid!!
    Sport is for the hard working, talented individuals who train for years, inspiring us and our children.
    PLEASE KEEP POLITICS OUT OF SPORT!!"
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    You'd make a fair point if it wasn't for the fact that Bernie is best mates with the ruling elite of Bahrain, and they in turn weren't attempting to use the race to present a facade of normality and unification.

    ___________________________________________________________________
    ___________________________________________________________________

    "the bahrain situation is strange for me,peaceful protests is fair and democracy and equality etc,etc but when thugs and hooligans who have a sectarian agenda throw petrol/liqour bombs at police,innocent public and tourists then live ammunition should be used,i said the same during the london/english riots."
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    You'd make a fair point if you weren't an unbelievably narrow minded and ignorant excuse for a human being

  • Comment number 77.

    Dear BBC Management and Heads of Sport,

    Oh dear,

    That's a fine mess you've gotten youreslves into.

    The limited highlights TV deal in a year with the closest racing for years and years.

    You can't show short highlights of an action packed two hour race without ruining it.

    Fill the 80 mins with racing and put the analysis and forum online, or you'll lose even more people to RTL 5Live etc. Unless that's what you want to kill it completely.

    You'd be better with full race reruns at 11pm.

    Feel sorry for your quality F1 production team, especially DC, then again I heard Crofty made so many mistakes again today DC will probably join Martin next year. Never underestimate the need to feel your management is behind you 100%...

    oops once more, though we all saw it coming a mile off.

    Good luck with the expensive mission of dumbed down reality talent telly,
    Regards J.

  • Comment number 78.

    Cracking action today,

    Impressive from Lotus, both cars. Shame Kimi blew the final bend hitting the kerbs badly on lap 2/3 and let Massa past. Delays so maybe could have had Seb then. Shame also Lotus didn't get Kimi, on different tyres, straight past RomGro, or didn't pit Kimi a lap before Seb just to jump him then manage tyre wear!

    Awesome from di Resta! Amazing Qually2 after missing practice 2 and when pathetic FOM didn't televise any Force India action, but they had to today! Fantastic controlled drive and amazing lap times on a 2 stopper! Koby tried 2 stops and went backwards unlike PdiR. Great double pass on Maldo and the Sauber! Get him in a fast car somebody.

    Congrats also to Massa, "Felipe, you are nearly as fast as Fernando here". Great starts from the Ferraris, at least there is one thing from the current car that should be kept for the B-spec Barcelona Ferrari...

    Oh dear Mclaren, simplify the pit stops to sort the problems, twice on Lewis there. So if it wasn't the wheel was it the gun, or Lewis's real axle, or the technique on the left rear - like Button in China makes 3! At the very least don't drop the rear jack until the wheel is signalled on! Plus even worse, a retirement for Button and slow looking compared to the Lotus and Bulls in the race!

    (Apologies, you may have missed some of this if you only saw short highlights.)

    p.s. Andrew, is the rule for the Rosberg V Hamilton and Rosberg V Alonso incidents that he can make one move to the side of the track edge, or should he make one move but leave a gap?

  • Comment number 79.

    Highlights was shockingly bad. Editing was terrible no flow and very hard to follow the race developments.

    Worse parts of about the editing....
    1. You show the full formation lap!!!! WHY!?!?
    2. Then yous delete 10 whole laps and then Ben & David start talking random rubbish about what just happened in the previous few laps which you did not show!!!
    3. Post race interviews, I'm not an Alonso fan but you cut his short, Louise just started to ask a question re the Rosberg incident but yous want back to Jake to speak to that wally about "Was it right to come here" blah blah. Thats for BBC news not you.

    Also, for a show lasting 1 hour and 20mins you only show 45mins of actual racing plus 3mins showing the full formation lap giving a total of 48mins from a race which lasted 1 hour and 35mins (eg 50%) You are entitled to show 75mins of highlights as part of the deal you the BBC struck were FOM and Sky!

  • Comment number 80.

    I watched the race on Sky and the highlights on BBC and I have to say that the Sky commentary was much better, Martin Brundle is always on point. I like David Coulthard but the jury's still out on my namesake, Ben Edwards, he's in the Johnathan Legard mould and he states the obvious too much. I'm not convinced that this race should ever have taken place but that's a moot point now. Can't believe the McLaren team are messing up the pit-stops and I can't believe that their car doesn't seem to have any race pace. Whilst it was good to see Vettel smiling again I'll never forget how he chucked his toys out of the pram at the start of the season, he's gone down in my estimation for his two-faced attitude. Good to see Kimi and Romain up there but I'm really rooting for Mark and Lewis this season, hope they can convert some races into victories or podiums real soon.

  • Comment number 81.

    @64.
    Can't agree enough.

    Bernie would hold a race in Kabul if he was getting a handsome pay out come the end of it.

    I thought it was laughable the 'offer' he made to Force India during the 2nd practice session, "if they want to stay here until 1am, i'm happy to stay with them and travel to the hotel with them" Why, what good is an 80yr old midget going to be if they run into any trouble? Would the protesters care about Bernie? Doubt it.

    As a result of that, something that was picked up on the sky feed, (might have been picked up by the beeb as well) that at no point during the qualifying session, did you see a Force India on track. Bernie's way of getting them back, not showing the cars going round on the track? Sounds like something he'd do.

    Nice touch seeing Martin talking to DC and Jake again, even if DC practically rugby tackled him, just like old times.

  • Comment number 82.

    Am I the only one who watches the race for the action on the track? I don't give two hoots about who's rabbiting on in the background and find the sight of the likes of Brundle bullying drivers etc to give him sound bites minutes before a race truely nausiating. Maybe I'm growing too old but I still prefer sport to showbiz....

  • Comment number 83.

    @79
    Sounds like you're being screwed over then.
    I had to laugh at the qualifying coverage, I tuned in to see Anderson (who they should tell to smarten up btw) with a picture and a felt tip bumbling his way through an explanation.
    Anderson and his pictures & felt tips v Ant and his big ipad. No contest.
    It's like the beeb have literally got 'some guy' to fill a void. Get DC doing the technical stuff, after all, he was a driver!

  • Comment number 84.

    Martin Whitmarsh?? Was never convinced when he was appointed,and we all no the reason why.. Because of all that crap from alonso, Ron had to step down to save the team. I don't think Mclaren can move on with him in charge and thats why Lewis will not be there next season.

    I think Lewis was not at ease last season due to some personel stuff, but I think that stuff also included the team set up, but dispite what some people think, he is a pro and maintained it was all personl problems.

    I also thought Shue made some good honest comments after the race with regards to tyre ware? Parelli in my opinion have never been a good tyre both on road cars an in F1. His comments I'm sure are also shared by alot of the top drivers who dare not rock the boat of there team.

    We have all been waiting to see proper raceing with six world champions on the grid but the tyres are a farce if it's benificial to miss quali 3 and save tyres!! that cannot be right? And if they insist on that pattern then i think they should award points for qualifying.Drivers want to drive fast and show ther skills not to test manage tyres.

    Please reply somone if only to see if what i have said make sence as F1 could go down hill rapidly!!!

  • Comment number 85.

    Well I would never have believed so many hypocrites could invade a BBC sport site and still claim to be fans of the sport – in this case F1. Has anyone of them ever heard of Tienanmen Square? Years of suppression by a ruthless regime? Ring a bell? For those of you who need educating just a little about world affairs this was and is China. Yes the country where the Chinese FI GP was held – yes Shanghai is in China. And you lot dare to bring your sanctimonious whining about the Bahrain race here as if you actually cared about the Bahrain people, or at least some of them.
    This is for comments about F1 and the BBC and Sky – if you have some in depth comments to make about a country's internal affairs then go to the appropriate place and do so. Also if the affairs of another country's people worries you all so, how about going there and joining the protesters? Do something constructive, go there and throw a brick at a policeman – anything but just leave us F1 fans who love the sport with all its faults to enjoy the few hours of entertainment we get each year. I am now housebound and F1 along with rugby, snooker, tennis etc. all supplied by the wonderful BBC contribute immensely to life. As for the race – yes there was a race – I am mad at the BBC for losing races to Sky but I am grateful that they supply us with – in my opinion – excellent coverage of live races and not bad highlights of the rest either. I detest being offered any programme and then subjected to repeated viewing of banal adverts which insult one's intelligence so keep it going please BBC. I thoroughly enjoyed today's race and as a Button/Hamilton/McLaren supporter hope they can get their act together soon. Roll on Spain unless the Spanish government gets rough and the “sancties” start on them as well.

  • Comment number 86.

    As a former editor I have this to add. If you are covering a sports event then cover the event. Adding pc comment will alienate your real fans. The pc crowd are not your fans. BBC has been losing the script for some time now and I hope you wake up soon and perhaps add a few graybeards to the sports scene instead of the juveniles you are letting ruin the show.

  • Comment number 87.

    Congratulations to Vettel for a fantastic drive. His defending was just brilliant. Not bad for a driver who can't handle pressure....
    But for me, the driver of the day is the iceman (closely followed by Di Resta). That was a quality drive after starting P11 though he had fresher tyres. Seems like rallying hasn't done a lot of damage to his wheel-to-wheel racing skills. Shame he couldn't find his way past Vettel. Well done to Grosjean too.

    I was just wondering what the reaction would be if Schumacher defended as Rosberg did yesterday. Even the blog title could have been different with something like "Schumacher of old", "dangerous" etc. But I loved the action and would love to see more aggression from Rosberg. But this time he really took it to the limits.


    And finally @ Mr. Benson
    "Is the 'fluke' champion Kimi worth the risk..."
    "How Webber turned tables on Vettel..."
    ----------------------------------------

    As Montoya said, Oh "deer"...!!

  • Comment number 88.

    yellowbelly & louiep

    I'm quite sure I saw Eddie Jordan at Monte Carlo Rolex Masters watching the semi final between Nadal and Simon on Saturday.

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    No issues with DRS, or tyres being important, but the current pirellis seem to have introduced a lottery aspect to it. A team can set up well, one badly, an unexpected weather change of a few degrees and it all changes round. Exciting racing though.

    Great drive by Di Resta.

  • Comment number 91.

    @ annabeldodds
    I don't think Vettels win has anything to do with a different diffusor!
    I believe there's a secret button for warp drive in his car!

    Whatever, GO FOR THE 3rd SEB!!!

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    A friend of mine with a leaning to conspiracy theories told me that he thinks Whitmarsh'd goal is to have Button finish ahead of Hamilton, regardless of what position. If that's the case then it would appear karma sorted that out this week with Button coming home shorn and Lewis with a bit of wool. Perhaps conditions are right for Ron Dennis to return and he will return racing glory to England. With Dennis I would not be surprised if Mclaren would pukll away from all other teams and have a world champion at the end. Otherwise Whitmarsh will be defending the botchers in the pits all the way to the end of the season. I was surprised on how much he talked about forgiving the bothcer and how hard he had been on himself - then talk about Button's misfortune but hardly a word about those 4 points Lewis got. If Lewis does not fit Whitmarsh then Martin should let him go and join another team. For Britain it wont matter either way.

  • Comment number 94.

    I have stopped watching GP because half of it moved to Sky. I don't even care I can watch the other half on BBC, I refuse to be a sucker to two old vampire squids - Murdoch and Bernie. It's just a matter of principle.

    Bernie wants to make even more money in a unsettled country. Maybe he should start one in North Korea or Syria.

  • Comment number 95.

    The politics of this race were hideously played out. If the Grand Prix was not involved in politics then why was the prince of bahrain standing next to Bernie answering questions? Where there is money, there is politics and because of that F1 has been tarnished once again.

    The race itself was interesting, just as the season has been so far, 4 races 4 different winners.

    F1 has always needed controversy though hasn't it. I'm thinking of the great Ayrton Senna here... http://playwithflair.com/2012/04/04/feature-a-moving-tribute-to-ayrton-senna/

  • Comment number 96.

    Sorry Mr Benson. I think you should stick to what you know best.
    How much time did you spend in Bahrain?
    How many people did you meet?
    What do you really know about the situation in Bahrain?
    Many years ago I read some very valuable advice to people making speeches... You should take note...
    If you have nothing to say... Say nothing

  • Comment number 97.

    obszerver @ 93

    I don't subscribe to the "Whitmarsh would do anything to have Button finish ahead of Hamilton" club.

    But as Whitmarsh is the one who signed Button, I think it's natural that he would be delighted if Button proves his worth (compared to his teammate or otherwise). But to suggest that he would deliberately destroy Hamilton's race to achieve that (and sacrifice valuable points in WCC while doing so) seems a bit far fetched to me.

    That said, I really felt sorry for Hamilton this week. The McLaren pit-crew have been under-performing for far too long now.

  • Comment number 98.

    @92

    Maybe the people on here are discussing the race as they are fans and not politicians?

  • Comment number 99.

    Well Done anti-government protestors! Thanks for draging a completely unrelated political issue into sports.. now we will probably never have F1 in Bahrain..or for that matter any international event.

  • Comment number 100.

    Didn't even bother avoiding the result of this GP until it was on tele tbh and didn't bother too much with the qualifying show either. Sport should not be hijacked by politics, but F1's troubles go way beyond that obviously, with the whole circus being intrinsically linked in almost every respect to the oil industry, the car industry, to corporate and global business and to the ruling elite.


    Interesting that people come to this place queuing up to slate the BBC highlights shows, as if somehow that's going to help their drive to get people signing up to Sky 3D or whatever contrived channel it is that the would-be monopoly have invented to prise open the can of worms and take the first steps towards using customer subscriptions to raise the money they pay the sport to then price out the broadcasting competition - just as they've done by throwing billions of subscriber pounds at football. And we all know where that's led to over the past 20 years. You only have to see the sparcity of terrestrial coverage, the obscene transfer fees, scandalous player wages and disgusting ticket prices. People want to slate the BBC's coverage and convince people to buy Sky, but you should stop and think who those people actually are.

 

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