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F1 in a spin over Bahrain

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Andrew Benson | 20:56 UK time, Monday, 6 June 2011

Three days after motorsport's governing body, the FIA, reinstated the Bahrain Grand Prix on to this year's Formula 1 calendar, the likelihood of the race actually taking place remains as uncertain as ever.

As FIA president Jean Todt was telling the BBC on Monday that the situation in Bahrain was now back to normal following the civil unrest that led to the race being postponed in February, the F1 teams were discussing what to do next.

I understand that the teams all feel that going to Bahrain this season is not a good idea, and that their objections are based on two main points:

Logistical - as Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn has pointed out, the F1 team members have been working flat out since January, and shoe-horning an extra race into an already crowded season's end, and extending the championship until mid-December, is a step too far.

Ethical and moral - trying to bring such issues into sports scheduling raises all sorts of difficult questions, such as exactly where you draw the line. After all, Bahrain is not the only country on the F1 schedule about which human rights groups have concerns. Which is why sports' bodies generally try to stay out of politics. But the teams feel that if holding a grand prix in a strife-torn area is likely to exacerbate the situation, then that is on the wrong side of the line.

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No team has made these views public yet, with the only official statement so far emerging from their umbrella group Fota, stating that the issue would be discussed internally and that a joint position may be defined. It may be that this will happen over the course of the Canadian Grand Prix this weekend.

In the meantime, F1 is in a state of limbo that reflects badly on it on several different levels.

How, many outside the sport will ask, can it have taken so long to come to this decision? And how, having done so, can there still be uncertainty about whether the Bahrain Grand Prix will be held this year?

There are different versions of exactly what happened on Friday in the meeting of the FIA World Council that resulted in Bahrain's reinstatement.

FIA insiders have said that while the governing body may be aware of the teams' reported unease, it has received so far only a letter from Brawn and one from the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, outlining their concerns about safety.

So if the teams felt uneasy about the race, why did not any of their representatives raise an official objection?

Equally, though, with the world's media and Amnesty International reporting continuing human rights abuses in Bahrain, was the FIA right to conclude in its own report that the situation is now "very stable and very quiet", as Todt put it?

Even as he justified the world council's decision, though, Todt may have been laying the ground for calling off the race - he gave himself some 'wriggle room'.

After a lengthy exposition on how all major parties in Bahrain backed the reinstatement of the race, and how United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was talking about "restoring a good situation in this part of the world", Todt added: "But we are talking about 30 October, so it will be monitored and things will be taken into consideration. The decision to go ahead was taken regarding how things are now."

Could that be the signal that another U-turn is on the cards?

I'm told that over the next few days the teams are likely to quietly begin to lobby the FIA to reconsider, pointing out that far from helping heal the wounds caused by the violent suppression of February's pro-democracy protests, the decision to hold a race already looked to be doing the opposite.

Only on Monday, the Bahrain Centre of Human Rights indicated that it would be calling for a "day of rage" on 30 October, the date of the rescheduled race, while the UK sports minister warned that holding the race would lead to a "disaster".

While all the teams are uneasy (even McLaren, whose biggest shareholder is a financial group owned by the Bahrain government), I'm told that the greatest concerns are held by three organisations - Renault, Mercedes and tyre supplier Pirelli, none of whom were available for comment.

As the three biggest corporate entities in F1, this would not be a surprise. They have well developed corporate social responsibility programmes, and they have the most to lose from a PR point of view from the inevitable negative fall-out that holding a race this year would create.

Todt acknowledged that it was "their choice" if they wanted to boycott the race - and there is precedent for that in F1.

In 1985, Renault and their fellow French team Ligier refused to take part in the South African Grand Prix, in a country still nine years away from the end of apartheid, following pressure from their country's government. And a number of sponsors of the teams that did take part removed their logos from the cars.

I understand that a boycott is not, for now, on the agenda. Even so, having just announced that the race will go ahead, the FIA finds itself in a difficult situation. But there is a way out.

Suppose, quietly, behind the scenes, the teams make it clear that they are unhappy about the Bahrain Grand Prix going ahead. As part of this pressure, it is made clear to the Bahraini authorities that if they insist on holding the race, some teams and sponsors will not attend. There is even the chance that the sport's tyre supplier would refuse to participate - meaning a race could not happen in any event.

In those circumstances, Bahrain would be faced with a choice.

They could go ahead with the race in the wake of a stream of statements from major global corporate stakeholders that they felt the event was untenable - not exactly a desirable situation for a significant international banking hub.

Or they could quietly announce that, given the circumstances, the risk of further protest, of putting pressure on a sensitive situation, in hindsight they believed that the best action would be to call off the race after all.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Well I just don't know, Andrew. What does Martin Brundle think? He's seems to have his finger on the pulse as far as the Bahraini people are concerned, right?

    I'm sure they'll sought it out & everything will be wonderful.

  • Comment number 2.

    I just do not see why the FIA are so keen to gamble on Bahrain GP this year. The far easier solution would be to steer clear this season and head back there in 2012. Andrew are we to believe that it is 2011 or bust for Bahrain?
    Sadly you can't help but feel this all boils down to extra revenue - although Bernie has come out and denied this.
    Credit to Mark Webber too this week for not hiding away from the issue like the rest of the paddock (as you mention). He said he doesn't want to go there and is sceptical over whether it will happen. Think a boycott is unlikely (i.e. England CWC 03 in Zimbabwe) but think this story will rumble on for some time yet.

  • Comment number 3.

    A very bizarre decision to re-schedule the race. It would surely have been much better for every party to have quietly allowed the Bahrain GP to lapse for 2011 and for it to go ahead again in 2012. The adverse publicity that this decision must be generating for the Bahraini dictatorship must surely be damaging to its international reputation.

  • Comment number 4.

    The race won't go ahead based on the concerns in this article. I am extremely concerned with Bernie insisting it's not about money. I am rattling my brain to think of a reason why they would reinstate it. It all comes down to Fota in my opinion. If unanimously they can agree not to race, then I don't know what the FIA can do about it.

  • Comment number 5.

    I firmly believe that this Grand Prix should not be held in 2011. Today's news is that hospital staff who treated people wounded by security forces are now to be put on trial. To hold this Grand Prix in these circumstances would be a travesty.

  • Comment number 6.

    Few countries visited on the F1 calendar have a perfect human rights record. We're all familiar with the history of crackdowns in China and even an EU membership chasing Turkey has more journalists in prison than the Chinese.

    However all the teams should boycott the Bahrain race. A country where doctors and nurses are currently charged with attempting to 'topple the regime' for treating protesters is not a place to bring an international sporting event.

  • Comment number 7.

    I admittedly haven’t read all the posts above but thought I’d weigh in here on a few things.

    I think it’s pretty clear that factions within Bahrain will do everything and anything within their power to make an impact should the F1 circus rock up there in October. And who’s to blame them really? The Bahrain regime has all but barred international media from reporting the situation on the ground there so the revolutionary movement need all the help they can get to get the message out. F1′s media circus might just be the ticket.

    I personally think that Todt’s assertion that sport is needed in such situations for “moral purposes” i.e implying that the staging of the grand prix would somehow improve the situation there to be bordering on delusional. It’s abundantly clear that the masses couldn’t care two hoots about who gets pole much less who wins the race, and the fact that they appear to have more pressing concerns seems to have been overlooked by Todt and the other so called decision makers.

    All in all, there are quite a few different aspects to consider:

    1. The crown Prince absolutely wants the race to go ahead. Given that the (poorer) Shia majority are endeavoring to bring about a revolution of their own, it’s patently clear that F1 or any other form of foreign investment sporting or or otherwise does nothing ameliorate their condition. The last thing it would do is bring all Bahrainis together to warm their hands around the fire of their common love for F1.

    2. It is clear that the security cannot be guaranteed. Full stop. Although not reported in the mainstream press, most of you fellow fanatics know that the situation there remains volatile at best. Oppositions groups planning a “day of rage” on the 30th of October paints an ominous enough picture.

    3. PR fallout. I would imagine that some of the major sponsors (as well as ‘brand’ F1) are currently conducting extensive risk assessment evaluations. The bottom line is the raison d’etre for Vodaphone et al. so they’ll be trying to work out whether the PR fallout in the event of a security breach is worth risking for the airtime gained during the Bahrain GP. Having said that, some would argue that the PR fallout has already begun, which I suppose it has….

    4. FOTA contracts. I’m sure some of you (Keith included) are pretty clued up about the FOTAs contractual obligations. I would be very surprised if the team principals would send their teams into a potential war zone just to honor a contract. Furthermore, where on earth would the insurance contracts come from for the F1 teams to Bahrain package holiday? Hmmm…

    5. Moral question? Like many of you, I felt we had to wait long enough before someone mentioned the ‘M’ word.
    I agree with Mark Webber wholeheartedly on this one. Amid discussions of security, calendar length, holidays and other reasons against going to Bahrain, it was becoming increasingly clear we were missing one crucial point. In the same way, when casting morality aside, for example, when arguing that the invasion of Iraq was a strategic blunder disrespects that untold numbers of people who died (on all fronts), we have a responsibility to recognize that millions of people in the Middle East are currently fighting for the future of their countries by standing up to the regime irrespective of the costs.

    In my view, the argument that paints those who fail to condemn Chinese and Turkish races on similar grounds with the broad brush of ‘hypocrisy’, doesn’t really hold water. Sure, we could decide to take the moral high ground and boycott the Chinese GP, but what purpose what that serve? If we boycotted everything that benefited the Chinese economy in protest of the regime, our lives would actually grind to a halt given that the majority of everything we use on a daily basis is made there. Or, do we give up using our mobile phones because of the continual atrocities that continue to occur the Congo (under the watchful eye of Nokia,Sony, LG et al.) over the coltan supplies? No we can’t because we’re dependent on certain things, so a degree if hypocrisy is inevitable I’m afraid. Just read a book on the history of the British empire of you need any further examples. But we can take a stand against brazen profiteering under the guise of a “sporting event” happening at the same time men and women are spilling their blood for their children’s future and for the future of their country.

  • Comment number 8.

    Holding the F1 race there entails Jean Todt walking the Crown Prince around the paddock etc. while hours before the man has been ordering the systematic human rights abuses and violent suppression of his people. Perhaps they should move the race to Zimbabwe for a PR boost. While perhaps its not immoral to do so (it may not increase the harm done to the population) it is massively embarrassing and some may argue condones the governments actions.

  • Comment number 9.

    F1 should never have gone to Bahrain in the first place, and to go now would be a disaster. Views of a certain M.Webber completely correct...
    Just an other example of how thoughtless and bent the FIA is... maybe the crown prince will order a military takeover of the circuit medical centre..

  • Comment number 10.

    It'll be an interesting race if Pirelli do choose to boycott it, as you suggest above!

  • Comment number 11.

    Its all very quite on the Indian front. I would have thought they would be livid by this decision but I've not read or heard a peep! Now, either Bernie has bought them off or a delay suits them because they won't be ready in time?

  • Comment number 12.

    Its all very quite on the Indian front. Odd, I thought that they'd be livid. Now either Bernie has looked after them or they were not going to ready on time. Either way, no consideration towards the F1 fans who've made prior arrangements.....

  • Comment number 13.

    #11. I spoke to an Indian friend of mine who said that they are probably keeping quiet in order to get the inaugural race started properly. Obviously the delay suits them since they can get ready and also do a full PR about it sometime from Sep to Dec.

  • Comment number 14.

    Great blog Andrew but could your next one be about how poor Webber has been this year. He has the same car as Vettel and so should be at least finishing second to Vettel in every race. Yet his results have been mixed and his qulaifying times are well off the pace to Vettel. Webber should be challenging Vettel to the title due to the Red Bull i.e Hill vs Villeneuve, Button vs Barrichello but due to team politics, i.e Vettel can't cope with having a team mate who is as fast as him, we are going to end up with many more years similar to the schumacher/Ferrari (until Newey leaves for a new team)

  • Comment number 15.

    Excellent blog Andrew.

    As a follow up, any chance of your thoughts on what this means for the Indian GP? As some posters above have commented, it's all gone very quiet on that front, and I've not yet seen any real discussion on the logistics for the teams/Indian GP if the Bahrain GP does not go ahead.

    At what point does it become too late to move the Indian GP back to it's original date if the Bahrain GP does get cancelled? The organisers there surely need to know when to prepare for. And of course, lets not forget the fans wanting to buy tickets, see the maiden GP etc - F1 has to be fair to it's supporters who ultimately pay the bills...

    Given the teams have raised the issue of the new date for the Indian GP being too late in the year in their view, is there a chance that they could refuse to continue the season so late/it can't realistically be held at it's original date, and the Indian GP fails to happen?

  • Comment number 16.

    Interesting post Andrew. You raised South Africa 1985 - surely the talking point for us now is now the fact that Ligier and Renault did not take part but that every one else did - and did so for almost another decade.

    I'm sure it's not a case of the drivers back then were less moral - Senna gave millions away to charity - but that sport and politics don't mix.

    I'm not sure why Bahrain has suddenly taken hold as *the* moral dilemma facing F1. Someone mentioned that boycotting China isn't feasible because everything we do in our daily lives is pretty much made by the Chinese. Maybe - but F1 would hardly collapse if there were no Chinese race and instead one in another part of the world.

    Many countries abuse human rights, and that is unforgivable - but F1 does not seek to promote a Western, liberal capitalist agenda - it is about racing.

    The FIA have made the best decision - if the situation deteriorates again, and the drivers/teams say 'We are not comfortable going there, it's not safe' then the fault will be of the Bahrain government. The FIA is then not in a position to be making political/moral points.

    I wonder how Lewis/Jenson/McLaren employees feel about being partly owned by the Bahraini government? Or for that matter McLaren fans, some of whom are doubtless against the race going ahead..

  • Comment number 17.

    The decision to reschedule has been done entirely to protect the FIA's future commercial deals.

    Any suspition that it can not satisfy it's pre-agreed schedules in terms of numbers of races will have a dramatic impact on TV and commercial deals for years to come as sponsors use the "but it might not happen" excuse to low-ball on deals.

    There will be no boycott, if the race happens ALL the teams and manufacturers will be there, including Pirelli, they stand to lose too much financially and again in future good will by not turning up.

  • Comment number 18.

    F1 and Ecclestone are as greedy as Blatter and FIFA. Sport and politics should not be linked they always are with both Ecclestone and Blatter behaving like untouchable heads of state. There is no way Bahrain should be added back to the calender whilst they are still attacking and prosecuting people doing no more than we are doing here and voicing our opinion on something we dont agree with

  • Comment number 19.

    Why all this fuss about F1 going to countries who have a less than snow white record on human rights? And why pick on Bahrain? What about other sports going to places like China or even America(USA) Yes USA the country that imprisons without trial(Guantamano) and tortures(waterboards) people on the grounds that "Its OK for us". Lets boycott all the golf and tennis tournaments held there. I am no supporter of despotic regimes but as the good book says "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone"

  • Comment number 20.

    Max Mosely made an exellent point on Radio 4 this morning:

    For all the FIA and Jean Todt saying this is definitely (or maybe not now) going to happen, according to an article of the International Sporting Code, the FIA MUST get written consent from each and every Formula 1 team to change the race calendar mid-season (ie the rescheduling of the Indian GP to make room). Without this the FIA cannot make the required changes to the calendar and nothing will happen anyway. Even if just one team (looking at you here Mercedes GP) says no, then according to the rules and regulations, the FIA cant change the calendar.

  • Comment number 21.

    The FIA decision is scandalous and insensitive. Doctors are about to go on trial for tending to people injured during the demonstrations agianst the Government. What a sick regime it must be to stoop to such depths. Ecclestone should hang his head in shame - his "it's not about the money" quote is even more cynical than Blatter's "crisis what crisis" effort last week.
    If the teams do not have the "cojones" to boycott the race, what about the international media refusing to cover it? Would the BBC be prepared to take the lead for example and simply ignore it. It would certainly be applauded for its moral stance.

  • Comment number 22.

    The reputation of the FIA for ethics was not very good. Now it is trashed completely. Teams and sponsors will be tarnished by association. Selling kudos to Bahrain was never moral, association with the Bahraini regime at this time is reputational suicide.

  • Comment number 23.

    Big4r_a_bore, good call plus sponsors should consider their sponsorship of an event soaked in blood

  • Comment number 24.

    Just heard the same Max Mosley interview on R4. If he's right (and he should know better than anyone) then it's disappointing that "news" organisations like the Beeb have been presenting the FIA decision as a fait accompli. So could we have some retrospective journalism at least, and get some decent analysis of where this leaves things?

  • Comment number 25.

    Hundreds slaughtered and dozens more left hanging from prison cell ceilings with burns across their naked bodies; yet the Bahrain GP goes ahead.... shameful.

  • Comment number 26.

    Sadly, the reality is that if you can have an Olympics in China, then the bar for withdrawing sporting events from a country because of the ruling body's oppression and abuse of their people is set unrealistically high.

  • Comment number 27.

    If this race goes ahead, then the world-wide public should not buy tickets to it, or indeed watch it on TV. I wouldn't watch it. It's a disgrace.

  • Comment number 28.

    I am a British Expat living in Bahrain, I am very unhappy with all the comments we see in the world media from news reporters, do-gooders and now F1 drivers! (and now here!) making the government here look like an oppressive regime! I have been here for 7 years and stayed all through the "trouble".
    Quite frankly the reporting in the western media is very wide of the mark, sometimes even funny. I could list 100 issues that are completely wrong, but I will try to keep it down to a few points.

    1. There is no such place as "Pearl Square" it is a roundabout and it is not in the centre of Manama.

    2. Whenever there is a demonstration all the nutters join in, they have no political view, they just want to throw rocks at the police.

    3. The "peaceful protesters" are certainly not, they have killed several Pakistani workers, one that survived is still in hospital after after being beaten and having his tongue cut out.

    4. The same "peaceful protesters" occupied the main hospital and were turning away (violently) anyone that they did not want to enter, i.e. Pakistanis, Bangladeshis etc.

    5. They are certainly NOT pro-democracy, they are many different groups that can not agree what they want! Many of them are Iranian backed troublemakers.
    (strange how Iran is making the most noise about the trouble in Bahrain and yet how do they deal with "peaceful protesters")

    6. There are an estimated 10,000 Brits living here, you will be hard pressed to find one that was not happy to see the authorities clamp down, they have been causing trouble for decades. We were happy when the Saudi/Emirate security forces arrived.

    7. The Shia are the majority but they certainly are not all demonstrating. The vast majority of the Bahraini population and expats support the Government, the protesters have some valid issues but their demonstrations were hijacked by troublemakers. The

    In summary:
    Yes there are problems here but the western media is being very one sided and not reporting what is really happening. Most of the reported "brutality" is false, (before all you liberals start shooting me down, I live here, come and see for yourself then comment). Talk to anyone that lives here or has lived here, you will be very surprised at the reaction!

    Do I think the F1 should go ahead? Certainly Not, it is a big international event and the "peaceful protesters" will do all they can to disrupt it, in front of the western media.

  • Comment number 29.

    major risk element continuing with the race

  • Comment number 30.

    Aside from the human rights issues that are rightly being discussed. What happens to the fans who have already purchased flights to, and booked hotel accommodation in India for the original scheduled date? Are they going to be reimbursed by the FIA?

  • Comment number 31.

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  • Comment number 32.

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  • Comment number 33.

    I think the real danger for the sport here is that the opposition will plan some form of protest (day of rage) in the period leading up to and including the race.

    The authorities in Bahrain, anxious to present a calm and stable state, will ruthlessly put down and quell this protest and its preparations.

    Therefore we wil have a meaningless Bahraini PR stunt Grand Prix with all the surrealism of a North Korean holiday resort.

    The backdrop to this farce is potentially then the death, injury and persecution of hundreds of Bahraini protesters.

    I am staggered that the sport wishes to be associated with such a travesty. Why in Gods name have they even considered it? They had the best get out possible in that the original race was cancelled. So, let it lie and see what the situation is like next year.

    Any sensible business would have taken this view. So, despite whatever anybody says this IS about money, or about personal relationships with the Crown Prince. Favours are being called in here. I am amazed the FIA are going along with it.

    I wonder what the value of a World Championship, won in Bahrain, is for someone like Vettel.

    "Yeah great to be World Champion again. Sorry a couple of hundred people had to die so the race could happen................."

    It is all pretty unsavoury. I hope Webber has the courage of his convictions and gives up his drive there.

  • Comment number 34.

    Quote: At 01:25 7th Jun 2011, Lewis Standing wrote:

    Holding the F1 race there entails Jean Todt walking the Crown Prince around the paddock etc. while hours before the man has been ordering the systematic human rights abuses and violent suppression of his people. Perhaps they should move the race to Zimbabwe for a PR boost. While perhaps its not immoral to do so (it may not increase the harm done to the population) it is massively embarrassing and some may argue condones the governments actions.

    How do you know the Crown Prince has been "ordering the systematic human rights abuses and violent suppression of his people."? please could you provide some evidence?

    Actually, the reverse is true, he is working hard to address the issues causing the problems and is a voice for calm and dialogue.

    The only "violent suppression" I have seen here is the security forces responding to violent protesters, with my own eyes.... how about you?

  • Comment number 35.

    Inoffapost........ interesting comments from someone that obviously knows nothing about the "real" situation here. Come to the GP and find out for yourself :-)

  • Comment number 36.

    #7 Petrolheadz - interesting comments, and I am sure that those companies with a robust corporate social responsiblity program will want to withdraw as the PR fallout will counter their respective CSR programs. However companies without such won't be bothered too much.

  • Comment number 37.

    Moonwatcher #28 # 31 #32.

    Valid points. If we accept your comments as someone living there and able to put a more balanced spin on the situation maybe we come nearer to the truth.

    However, even you admit it is inappropriate to go ahead, as it surely is, so why is the sport (FIA & BE) so determined to see it happen?

    Bahrain is best left alone out of the spotlight to solve its own issues and those caused by Iranian troublemaking.

    A Grand Prix this year will not help this process. Not IMHO.

  • Comment number 38.

    Like every situation in the world there are two sides to every story. So why are the Western media banned from reporting on the Bahrain situation from the ground? Surely if there's nothing to hide or nothing really major going on the western media wouldn't be banned and wouldn't have to resort to secret filming?

    Also I have never been to Bahrain, so I can't say what is really going on. But I do remember reading the stories from ex-pats in Uganda in the 1970s and they didn't say a bad word about Amin regime. In fact they went as far as saying that the Western media was just being racist and making stuff up. But now know what really was going on. But the ex-pats were not affected as the bad stuff wasn't happening to them or even in front of them.

  • Comment number 39.

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  • Comment number 40.

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  • Comment number 41.

    #39 Moonwatcher

    Look, I am prepared to accept your points at face value, but I think you undermine your argument when you start implying that the 'protesters' - Iranian backed or whatever - were trying to effect a political 'coup d'tat' with and through the support of Western media.

    I love a conspiracy theory as much as anyone but it is stretching the point. Everyone gets exasperated with the media's appetite for over dramatising everything but I think it is important to get back to the thread here. Otherwise 'we' (as in the majority of posters here) are condescendingly just labelled as well meaning, uninformed idiots, and you become an apologist for the Bahraini Government.

    The question was only ever about the suitability of restoring the race on the calender. We both, for differeing reasons, agree on this point.

    I for my part will certainly research more in respect of the claims and demands of the so-called 'protesters' with a view to properly understanding the situation in Bahrain.
    I appreciate that you cannot please all of the people all of the time but for a 'peaceful, well run, successful island nation', there currently appears to be a considerable number of disaffected citizens.

    Maybe these groups were just jumping on the 'Egyptian Overthrow' bandwagon, and maybe they have backing from outside agencies. You seem to be sure of it. So who's telling you that? Who do you believe and why?

    There's no need to answer because we can't solve it here anytime soon. On the basic point we both agree. Media reporting is farcical and mostly untrue and Formula 1 should steer well clear for the time being.

  • Comment number 42.

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  • Comment number 43.

    Perhaps if the race goes ahead, the teams might be invited to do some nice image-building photo ops. You know, visit some hospitals? And maybe then visit some prisons and meet with some of the people who used to work in the hospitals, until they were put on trial for treason by the dictatorship for attended to those wounded during pro-democracy protests.

  • Comment number 44.

    Hmm. Interesting contributions from people in Bahrain. I recall reading very similar opinions and sentiments from people 'on the ground', saying it was all Western media hysteria and so on in another situation that raised international concern - that was Chernobyl, and the apologists ended up looking pretty daft. That may or may not be the case in the future with Bahrain.

    In the meantime, if you don't like the BBC or Sky (which is not known for being a seething mass of leftist propaganda) then you could always try CNN, Fox, Al Jazeera, Press TV (oh - don't bother with that one - it's Iranian and part of the 'conpiracy), NHK (between extended coverage of Fukushima), etc - they're all saying pretty much the same.

  • Comment number 45. the comments. It is very annoying when the media don't portray the real events accurately.

    But I have to say you are wrong. I live the UK and watch / listen to the news. And I have seen footage of large pro-government demonstrations as well as anti-government. I have seen critical reports on those anti government demonstrations. And seen reports of the wider political gaming with Iran. So I think you may be over egging the pudding when it comes to an anti-bahraini western media. For those that are interested its all out there to be heard.

    The important issue is that there's conflict in the country were and F1 shouldn't be there.

  • Comment number 46.

    Moonwacttcher is the Bahraini equivalent of Iraq's "Comical Ali". Just like Comical Ali claimed Iraq was winning the war and that the Americans were retreating while the US tanks were actually rolling through the streets of Baghdad, Moonwatcher similarly gives a tale of complete calm and tranquility displayed by the despotism, while it's the freedom-seekers who have caused the trouble! What a preposterous, deluded, perverter of truth you are.

    Look at "Moonwatcher's" frequent and liberal use of BLOCK CAPITALS and exclamations marks !!!!!!!! to domineer over people, it's the superiority complex which he/she/it is accustomed to using in Bahrain, shouting down to people, to make you feel subservient.

    I've got news for you: We have our own eyes, ears and minds and we don't bow before pond-life like "Moonwatcher" or any other propagandist bully who thinks they can come on here and spread their filthy lies. The most sickening aspect of this is that the Bahraini despotism won't admit their guilt, their treason to freedom, their crimes, their wrongdoing against the people. They are trying to carry on as if nothing had happened. The Bahraini Grand Prix should not go ahead, everybody except the Bahraini despot falsifiers and Bernie Ecclestone knows this!

  • Comment number 47.

    Moonwatcher... your comments are laughable.

    As an expat in the gulf I am doing ok, and generally have a good life here. But I'm not blinded by my own self-interest into going native. In gulf countries, criticism of the ruler or his family is ILLEGAL. They don't hold elections and if you suggest they should, you'll be arrested and deported if you are a foreigner, or tortured and quite possibly 'disappeared' if you are a local.

    And you expect me to trust the official media from such a dictatorship above the BBC and media from other FREE countries? Honestly? I have to agree with Teflonso above, you exhibit all the signs of a sock-puppet.

  • Comment number 48.

    I find it amusing (and slightly disturbing) that the president of the FIA seems to have the privilage of declaring a country's political situtation to be stable. Long gone are the days of Ken Tyrell wandering a circuit with his trusty spanner looking for loose armco. The modern sport is now a political movement just as vulnerable to the ebb and flow of global politics and economics as a government in its own right. Bernie's taken the sport into rich yet unstable territory by expanding into arabic and asian countries, and those instabilities are becoming apparent. I can see why older enthusiasts pine for the days when all the attention was on the drivers and their performance, not on the media reports and balance sheets.

  • Comment number 49.

    I see the hand of the poison dwrf: "big" Bernie Ecclestone all over this decision. Money, power and more money is all this about.

    I'll write to a few of the sponsors and as long as many others do the same it wont matter what Bernie wants if the money doesnt follow his decision.

  • Comment number 50.

    Pretty refreshing to see a well-balanced discussion on the issue at whole, even if most of it is not originally on topic. I can understand the arguments (especially logistical) against rescheduling the Grand Prix this year, it's just that most of the lazy reporting on the situation and brandishing a progressive country with a progressive leadership (as it has been for years) by Western media agencies in a bid to land a story off the back of events in Egypt and Tunisia (which were totally different) has made a lot of us, who've actually been to Bahrain and seen for ourselves, blood boil.

    Bahrain is a small country that has opened up global motorsport to the Middle East. Even before 2011, the royal family had a great track record of pushing for reform, providing jobs (not just for expats but more importantly for their own people) and they've brought in a wave effect of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and Ferrari World that has taken the region to new levels of openness on a entreprise level.

    Bahrain government welcomes the rescheduling of F1, Bahrain people welcomes F1...even Bahrain opposition have officially welcomed the rescheduling of F1 and all sides have used this as a positive means to open dialogue not violence. But a lot of people would rather take the word of privately-motivated human rights groups that use inflammatory statements like "day of rage" who really have no interest in seeing the violence stop or answers come to by non-violent means.

    Again, I don't necessarily say I'm dead set on having the GP come back to 2011, because the case against it is building on logistical grounds but using Bahrain as a scapegoat for Western moral values? Come off it.

    For anyone who has doubts over where the truth and common sense lies, if you care enough, come and visit Bahrain for yourselves! You are more than welcome trust me. It's a great country has been for a long time. Apparently we have no voice but we're posting and browsing the same web forums just as you are.

  • Comment number 51.

    It is a very poor decision to let this race go ahead. i hope all the teams boycott the race

  • Comment number 52.

    Have just been reading all the comments with interest. I wonder how many of the participants actually live in Bahrain? I currently live in the Kingdom and agree 100% with the comments made by Moonwalker.I think that says it all.Looking forward to the 30th October.

  • Comment number 53.

    I'd be quite happy to see the back of ALL outside Europe races.

    We could see the return of tracks not used for years, and more recent omissions; Brands Hatch, Donington, Magny-Cours, Österreichring/A1/RedBull ring, rebuild full sized Hockenheim, Paul Ricard, Estoril, Dijon-Prenois, and also the potential for brand new tracks which you could build near where people would actually want to see races.

    No more comedy US races.
    No more unattended Turkey (which you'll never convince me is in Europe)
    No more developing-world tinpot regime 'issues'.

    F1 doesn't need the rest of the world, no matter what greedy Bernie wants us to think...

  • Comment number 54.

    I think most are missing the biggest point.

    Bahrain is a dreadful circuit, DRS or not, it will not add anything to the F1 calendar apart from another bad race. It does not and never will have the scenery or atmosphere of circuits like Monaco to justify its lack of racing. Regardless of what is or is not happening in the country, we can do without Bahrain for ever more. Please do not return especially this year as it appears I will be alive for it. 60-100 years, do as you please.

  • Comment number 55.

    F1 is sport, Sport is something that unites people and enjoy. But whats happening here is its being used by different parties for their own agenda. The media, Human right organisations and so on. It is sad to see how people use sport for their own agendas. If there are political problems, let the organisations related to them handle them. Do not bring sports in to it. Give the people of Baharain to enjoy and be of something proud.

  • Comment number 56.

    Another quick point about these "new" circuits, take India for example, the sport is trying to convince us it cares about the environment and consumption of fuel and resources. Look our F1 cars use 2 litres less fuel per race!!!, then they construct a whole new mega circuit in all these much oils etc. are required to do that....grrr and all for what, the current designer of choice pretty much fails with every circuit. Great circuits to drive alone, very poor for overtaking/racing. As 53 says:

    No more comedy US races.
    No more unattended Turkey (which you'll never convince me is in Europe)
    No more developing-world tinpot regime 'issues

  • Comment number 57.

    F1 should not go to Bahrain, Human Rights issues aside, the Track is rubbish and the citizens couldn't care less.

    Mark Webber has made some great points about this issue, and also i seem to remember he likened Drivng round the Bahrain circuit to Driving round a Car Park.

    Either way, i can't see F1 going there despite Todt saying they will. I think even Bernie will see sense on this one. There's no way the Sponsors of the Teams would want to be associated with it.

  • Comment number 58.

    Of course this is about money, anyone thinking otherwise is kidding themselves. I can see F1 and Bernie's point of view though. How many millons of pounds must they have invested in assessing, building, developing, publicising and ultimately cancelling the Bahrain GP? You just have to look at Abu Dhabi to see the scale of the event. They have a clear commercial vested interest in this race going ahead and you can't knock them for wanting to get a return on their investment.
    Sport, as a general rule, should stay out of politics but when politics overspills into violence it becomes difficult to ignore. I agree totally with trying to develop new Grands Prix in different, unlikely places (looking forward to a Moscow Grand Prix in the near future) but you have to draw the line somewhere.
    Bernie and Friends should look upon this not as a failed investment, but as playing the long game. The track and facilities will still be there next year, and more importantly, his biggest assets, the teams and drivers, will still be onside.

  • Comment number 59.

    Is it me or is this another one of those issues that is relatively straight forward but is being made to sound spectacularly complicated??!

    The question on safety is not one the vast majority of us (author of this blog included I suspect) are qualified to comment on. It will be down to reports from people on the ground in Bahrain who will have a birds eye view as to the stability/instablity of the situation. It stands to reason that the FIA will be able to consult a variety of sources, from the government of Bahrain to the logistics people on the street who will physically put on the race. If they say it's ok, and the FIA are satisfied with their decision who are we to claim to know better?

    Sure there will be agenda's at work here, the Bahrain govt will want to portray a stable situation but the FIA are surely not so naive as to be unaware of this and will adjust accordingly. Even allowing for the FIA's own agenda regarding commitments with sponsors etc, no amount of lost revenue from axeing the event will compare to the consequences of ok-ing the event and it's a disaster. It is not in the FIA's interest to gamble here.

    Finally, as to the technical difficulties for the teams in crowbarring what will effectively be a new event into the schedule at short notice, who are they kidding?? Since the day the Bahrain cancellation/postponement was announced EVERY team should have at once put a contingency plan in plan to cope with its re-instatement, a lack of prepredness to deal with this seems simply poor planning. As for the sheer logistic of moving the F1 circus to another venue between two other races, are F1 seriously saying they can manage moving the entire operation 20 times a season seamlessly is ok, but 21 times will not work? Hmmm.

  • Comment number 60.

    For the record I don't think the race should go ahead amid so many differing reports as to the implied safety of those concerned.

    However, what I don't understand is the argument about engineers having to work through until December when they started in January. So what? They might have to work a full year like, I don't know, the rest of the working population! When I wake up at 4:30 to go to work and when I consider what I'll do when (and if) I take my measly 20 days holiday a year I'm certainly not thinking "thing's could be worse...I could work for Red Bull"...

  • Comment number 61.

    If this race does go ahead, I ferevently hope that the BBC will take a lead and nort show it. This race should not be run.

    By showing it, all you will be doing is ratifying the regime

  • Comment number 62.

    This whole affair has become the subject of ridicule and once again the FIA fails to make the correct choice, which would be to cancel the event this year.
    I suppose, however, the sport has many vested interests, not just in Bahrain, but the region itself. It must be a tricky balancing act between protecting those commercial interests for Formula One and being seen to follow an ethical path.
    However, the Bahrani government have committed detestable acts of violence against their own people and are trying to use the Grand Prix as a propaganda tool to continue the suppression of any opposition.
    It is imperative Formula One does not allow itself to be used as a puppet to uphold the corrupt values of this regime or try to convince the international community the murder and torture of it's citizens is acceptable as a means of holding onto power.
    It's time Formula One stood for something finer than being a money making machine and made a stand against this brutal and repugnant regime.

  • Comment number 63.

    At 13:16 7th Jun 2011, DexterisDelicious wrote:

    For the record I don't think the race should go ahead amid so many differing reports as to the implied safety of those concerned.

    However, what I don't understand is the argument about engineers having to work through until December when they started in January. So what? They might have to work a full year like, I don't know, the rest of the working population! When I wake up at 4:30 to go to work and when I consider what I'll do when (and if) I take my measly 20 days holiday a year I'm certainly not thinking "thing's could be worse...I could work for Red Bull"...

    You are seriously trying to comparing your likely 9-5, monday-friday job within easy driving distance of your home, friends and family with that of guys who spend upwards of 6 weeks a year on aeroplanes, work 18 hour days for the duration of a meet under the most extreme pressures and only slightly less back at home base?

    Sorry but that is laughable

  • Comment number 64.

    I'm going to put my hands up and admit that I don't understand everything that is going on in Bahrain. It's not my responsibility to keep a tab on every country that is committing human rights abuses and although I've been trying to follow events in the mid-East since the overthrow of Ben Ali, there's been too much going on for anyone to be able to get a decent, rounded picture of events.

    Surely "welcoming" of the Grand Prix by opposition groups cannot surely be for innocent reasons. Do I really think that the different sides in Bahrain will reconcile their differences over their love of fast cars going round a track? I mean it's no Spa or Interlagos. Attendance is typically low and I dget the impression the race is more the plaything of the rich and powerful in Bahrain, not there for the people. As others have pointed out, the race will become a focal point for further demonstrations, requiring a strong security of military presence at the circuit. How many drivers would be comfortable racing in those circumstances? And how could the BBC report on the race with a conscience?

    For once I completely agree with Max Mosley, his comments were spot on. If Bernie claims "it's not about money", his comments should be regarded not with a pinch of salt, but as a downright lie. The man is the Devil incarnate.

    Surely there are ways out for the teams and drivers without being held to account for breaking contract?

  • Comment number 65.

    This whole affair has become the subject of ridicule and once again the FIA fails to make the correct choice, which would be to cancel the event this year.
    I suppose, however, the sport has many vested interests, not just in Bahrain, but the region itself. It must be a tricky balancing act between protecting those commercial interests for Formula One and being seen to follow an ethical path.
    However, the Bahrani government have committed detestable acts of violence against their own people and are trying to use the Grand Prix as a propaganda tool to continue the suppression of any opposition.
    It is imperative Formula One does not allow itself to be used as a puppet to uphold the corrupt values of this regime or try to convince the international community the murder and torture of it's citizens is acceptable as a means of holding onto power.
    It's time Formula One stood for something finer than being a money making machine and made a stand against this brutal and repugnant regime.

  • Comment number 66.

    For me, morality is a gut instinct and as such I posted my thoughts on your previous blog (comment 710).
    3 days later and nothing has changed. Everyone in F1 is still hiding behind the corporate wall of silence, frantically trying to work out how much their morality will cost.
    Jean Todt brought an image to my mind of Neville Chamberlain holding aloft his piece of paper.
    Once again, I call on the BBC and it's employees to take a moral stance and refuse to participate. "We were only following orders" is no excuse.
    Appeasement is not the answer.

  • Comment number 67.

    As a British expat living in Dubai and having travelled numerous times to Bahrain this year (even last week) it grieves me to read the rubbish expounded in here talking of a "brutal regime" etc. All you armchair critics should get on a plane and come over here to see for yourselves. The nationals of the GCC countries are probably the best supported by their governments of any nationality in the world. Where else do you get free education, including foreign university - paid for by the government? Where else are locals guaranteed a job and a free or very cheap house? Where else is health care totally free? The "protestors" are nothing more than the rent a mob idiots that are usually seen causing mayhem in London.
    There never has been democracy in this part of the world and 99% of the population neither want nor crave for it. They are a tribal society which most western people could never understand.
    I have been to 4 Bahrain GPs and I'm going to Abu Dhabi in November. The Bahrainis welcome the F1 circus and they want it there this year too, it's just a shame I can't be there, because the track is excellent, the facilities superb and the people warm and welcoming.

  • Comment number 68.


    No, what I am saying is that extending the calender by a whole 7 days should not be used as an excuse to not reschedule the Bahrain GP. As it stands, there are many more valid reasons to not hold it.

    Oh, and I don't see why I cannot compare my job to that of an engineer. The engineers that I know and have met do not work, on average, any more hours than the rest of us. Granted some of them can spend a lot of time travelling and may be required to work long shifts at times (although the FIA has cracked down on this) but, given the chance, I would happily snap up a job at an F1 team and generally don't consider them to have a "bad lot".

    And since you enquired, I obviously don't work a 9-5 within driving distance of home when I get up at 4:30!

  • Comment number 69.

    The trouble is, as the 2012 calendar stands, the whole issue would have to be revisited a mere 4 months later.

    It's so easy to take polarised stances. How does history judge them? Was it right to isolate South Africa during Apartheid? Was it right for the world to go to China for the Beijing 2008 Olympics?

    I, like most, have my opinions on these things.

    It might just be best to take the easy way out and let the respective Governments of the teams decree nearer the time whether it is "safe to travel" etc; keeping the political decisions away from the Sport, and where it belongs - with the real politicians - whatever we might think of them.

    It does seem daft to decide to bring this cancelled race back in though. It is highly probable a final decision would have to be made in early October : and as per my original point, another one will need to be made in Feb '12 too.

  • Comment number 70.

    @67 couldn't have said it better myself.

    This idea of the GP being a "playground for the rich" is bitterly ironic considering it's easier to get entry and access to the Bahrain and AD grand prixs (especially in Abu Dhabi where you can buy yourself a whole weekend of entertainment at the GP simulators) than it is even in Silverstone at the traditional home of motor racing. You get jacked up prices and neglected crumbling facilities in the UK and then wonder why not everyone in this part of the world is so keen on the realities of how "democracy" provides for the people it's supposed to provide.

    If you argued against Silverstone being taken off the calendar, it would be easy for everyone to understand how the race is much more than just cars going around a track very fast, but a sporting competition and industry that gives opportunities to the host country in all areas. All of a sudden, because it's out here in the M.E. apparently it's just a bunch of cars going around a track.

    I'm glad the issue is being narrowed down to what was originally people's gripe with Bahrain beyond the pretence of being outraged on Bahrainis behalf: which is simply that most people don't find the track entertaining of value for money. I'm not saying anyone is right or wrong for that, it's a matter of opinion. But it's a sporting issue that's separate from the distorted issues of rights and freedoms that everyone except the majority of people in Bahrain seem to have taken it upon themselves to be "outraged" over.

  • Comment number 71.

    I hope everybody in the BBC Formula 1 team keep up to speed with Bahrain medical staff issue..
    There is a similarity to the Benghazi situation where the regime injects HIV into children and blames the medics.
    Time to consider your own "Moral Stance" BBC Sport.

  • Comment number 72.

    The trial starting today in Barain of 47 doctors and nurses for treating protestors should surely be enough for the drivers to boycott the event, whatever the FIA does. Behind every race lies the final line for the drivers should the worse happen - the doctors and nurses - and to race in a country that is putting people on trial for medically treating the injured is an abberation.

  • Comment number 73.

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

  • Comment number 74.

    Grand Prix Pyong Yang
    Grand Prix of Congo
    Grand Prix of Zimbabwe
    Grand Prix of Syria
    Grand Prix of the Gaza Strip
    The Tibetan Race of Champions
    The Great Street Circuit of historic Tripoli
    Grand Prix of Indonesia
    The Grand Prix of Mayanmar
    The "Pol Pot" all comers trophy of Cambodia.
    The Grand Prix of Iraq
    The Grand Prix of Iran
    The Grand Prix of the Ivory Coast
    The Communist Grand Prix of the Chinese People's Socialist Republic
    The Afghanistan Grand Prix and the Taliban Cup
    The Russian GP and the streets circuit of Moscow.
    The Grand Prix of Rwanda
    The Grand Prix of Liberia
    The Grand Prix of Guatamala
    The Grand Prix of Belfast (question marks over it's participation)
    The Grand Prix of Mexico, sponsored by the Zetas.

    HERE IT IS. THE 2012 F1 CALENDER. F1 is going "extreme". Add your favorite destination should we have forgotten to include it. European and North American countries are excluded, as, lets face it, we don't ever do anything bad or objectionable, ever.

  • Comment number 75.

    I just hope the teams are careful if they choose to protest in Bahrain, wouldn't want any "accidents", would we?

  • Comment number 76.

    I live in the USA. I bought a plane ticket and hotel for the Indian GP in Oct. Does FOM not care about the people who travel around the world to watch races?

  • Comment number 77.

    All you armchair critics should get on a plane and come over here to see for yourselves.


    Dubai was built by slave labour. How you can talk so coldly about murdered protesters sends a shiver down my spine. But then they pay your wages, what do you care?

  • Comment number 78.

    It won't make much of a difference, but if the Bahrain GP does go ahead this year, I won't watch it.

  • Comment number 79.

    Is it me or is it hard to take the views of ex-pats living in Bahrain and Dubai seriously?

    However, the main point is that the situation is becoming embarrassing for the sport. It looks amateurish - all these u-turns, the flawed 'fact finding mission' and so on. As Webber said, the race should have been cancelled when it was postponed and that would have been the end of the issue.

  • Comment number 80.

    The face that Jean Todt is pulling says FIA's position quite clearly to me...

  • Comment number 81.

    Those of you criticising Moonwatcher might want to remember this:

    My family have lived in Bahrain for 15 years and i spend my holidays there outside of university. Every expat i know and have spoken to is pleased with the increased security, as these so called "peaceful protestors", have been causing trouble for years. Even on this blog, the only people criticising Bahrain are those who admit "i have been watching intently from the UK". Strange that it is those actually living in Bahrain and experiencing it that are criticising the Western media and defending Bahrain!

    There is a lot of anti-BBC sentiment in Bahrain at the moment, not just from expats but mostly from the locals infuriated at how these thugs are being portrayed, as "peaceful" etc and the sensationalist and biased reporting. A few days after the protests started, 300-500 thousand joined a PRO-government rally, which incorporated Sunni's, Shia's and expats. Yet this didn't even warrant a post scipt on any of the Western media sites. Heaven forbid that anything remotely against the installation of democracy be mentioned! The truth is, sometimes democracy just doesn't work in some societies. The vast majority don't even want democracy anyway! These protestors just saw what happened in Egypt and thought "we'll have some of that" in the faint hope that they'll get some power. Most of the protestors were of the younger generation and joined in because they were bored and had nothing else to do (it's only a tiny island).

    As i was saying before, does democracy always work? Why would anyone want to live in a political system like ours? Look at the past year and all the problems with tuition fees etc. What's very telling is that the few who damaged buildings in London during the protests were labelled "thugs" and "anarchists" in the Western media. Yet these protestors in Bahrain who beat up foreign workers, including cutting out the tongues of some Pakistani men, looted shops and ran over policemen are labelled "peaceful". How is that fair and unbiased reporting?

    As for the race itself, saying that the citizens don't care is plain wrong. The whole island revolves around it in the weeks leading up to it, and pretty much every one of my Bahraini friends who i've spoken to in the last few days has been hugely excited about going to the race again. I went to the inaugural race in 04 and that was declared a national holiday, and every year since has been sold out. So making up sensationalist claims to justify why the race shouldn't go ahead just looks ridiculous.

    As for the race itself, I think it should go ahead. The protestors, if they haven't given up by October (especially as this summer will see the dialogue that the king proposed take place) wouldn't dare attack Westeners or anyone to do with F1 anyway, because that would see the sympathies of the Western media change. Since they so easily got the Western media on their side without even trying, merely by appearing to be "pro-democracy" (which they aren't anyway, but i digress), they wouldn't want to throw that away.

  • Comment number 82.

    It's a stupid idea for it to go ahead and to be honest, i don't see it happening, i think the teams will boycott the race. Personally i think they should of made the decision for next year and if there's still violence and unrest there, drop it all together, it's not exactly a thrilling track anyway.

    Jean Todt is an idiot, i can't stand the guy, even his ugly face makes me grumpy. He's ruining the sport. When the day he retires the better!

  • Comment number 83.

    Without a doubt this race should not go ahead ,
    And oohhh look even Bernie is now backpeddling like crazy saying it shouldnt , The world is coming around to that way of thinking now , Sorry #Darth_Krid we just dont believe you either . .

  • Comment number 84.

    I know how awesome Bahrain 'can' be, I was there for the '08 Grand Prix, but back then I was pretty much ignorant of the politics there.

    Without going into too much detail on the political side of things, it comes down to two factors.

    Security: Cannot be garunteed. The revolutionaries, be they peaceful or otherwise will take every opportunity to show the royals up.

    Morality: Even if us F1 fans were to completely discount the morality of this situation, others from outside the sport will not. The Bahraini regime is currently a major target of pro-democracy activists. Such people will quite happilly destroy F1 in the name of human rights to punish the sport for it's association with the regime.

    For the good of the sport, the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix must not happen.

  • Comment number 85.

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

  • Comment number 86.

    Bernie Ecclestone urges rethink on Bahrain Grand Prix after human rights group condemns FIA report.....

    "Formula One's chief executive was part of the World Motor Sport Council which passed a 'unanimous' vote last Friday to reschedule the race for Oct 30, pushing the Indian Grand Prix back to an unspecified date in December, but The Daily Telegraph understands that the 80 year-old has had a change of heart and written to Formula One's 12 teams urging them to express their discontent and demand a re-vote.
    That will have come as a surprise to FIA president Jean Todt who spent yesterday conducting a PR offensive in Paris, claiming that everything in Bahrain was "back to normal" and defending the decision to reinstate the race.
    Todt’s argument backfired somewhat when the report on which the WMSC's vote was based was dismissed as "blinkered" by a human rights group who said the member who compiled it only consulted with persons and organisations sympathetic to Bahrain's ruling Al Khalifa family.
    During the two-day trip last week, FIA vice-president Carlos Gracia met Sheikh Abdulla bin Isa Al-Khalifa, the president of ASN, Sheikh Mai bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa, the Minister of Culture, Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, the Minister of the Interior and Sheikh Salman bin Essa Al-Khalifa, the CEO of the Bahrain International Circuit.
    Gracia also met Tariq Al Saffar, of the National Institute of Human Rights, who he quoted as saying "inaccurate information has been very bad for the country and does not help to improve the situation". Alex Wilks, campaign director for Avaaz, a web-based human rights group, called the report a "whitewash".

    "In the last week the police have continued to use tear gas, rubber bullets and sound grenades to break up peaceful marches, killing and injuring tens of people," Wilks said.
    "Just today, 47 Bahraini doctors and nurses who provided treatment to injured protesters have been charged by a military court with attempting to topple the kingdom’s monarchy.
    "Whitewashing these abuses is an insult to the hundreds of protesters jailed and dozens killed in their struggle for change.
    "The main organisation that has provided this information is closely associated with the Bahraini government and it appears the FIA investigator failed to contact any of the other key human rights organisations on the ground."
    Todt defended Gracia's report, saying that many accounts of alleged human rights abuses, such as one from a former member of staff at the Bahrain circuit, were untrue. “I can only tell you the information I get,” he said. “What is true in UK is not true in France or in Italy. Remember when Bin Laden was killed? Big story here. Two weeks later it was all Strauss-Kahn. Things keep moving.”
    Todt also denied there had been any commercial consideration to the decision. "For me this is not a proper allegation," he said. "Bernie [Ecclestone, Formula One chief executive] has more of a headache to organise it and make some money rather than not to organise it and not get some money."
    Interestingly, Todt could not confirm whether the WMSC vote, conducted by a show of hands, was unanimous. "I couldn’t say precisely," he said. "Was it 25 hands? 27? I saw all the hands up and said, 'Ah, unanimous agreement'. I pronounced it. And nobody objected. No one said 'I abstained' or 'I voted no'."
    It is understood that only a unanimous vote can effect a change to the calendar, something which was necessary last Friday and may be again shortly.
    The teams, spurred on by Ecclestone, are expected to confirm today that they are unhappy with racing in Bahrain on Oct 30.
    "The way things are at the moment, we have no idea what is going to happen," Ecclestone said last night. "Better that we move Bahrain to the end of the season and, if things are safe and well, then that is fine, we can go.
    "If they are not, then we don’t go and there are no problems. We listened to that report from the FIA and that was saying there were no problems at all in Bahrain. But that is not what I am hearing and I think we can see that we need to be careful.”
    "The money makes no difference. It is there because the Bahrain people asked us to keep it. If there is no race, we will return it, but money is not the issue here. It is whether it is safe and good to have a race that is the issue. We can change this Oct 30 date by having a vote by fax if necessary. It can be done, and fast."

  • Comment number 87.

    HI all,
    I do not think that the bahrain GP should go ahead, However knowbody seems to be considering the fans in this desicion... what about the people who have already paid for there travle arrangments to go to the indian race, booked there leave time from work, who is going to compensate them i ask?? is there a compensation scheme that we are not aware of??? we are told that its all about a show for the fans etc , I adore F1 have done so since childhood , but I can not afford to throw away good money for a race trip when its reshedualed and there seems to be no compensation in place.
    How i ask myself do the FIA expect to get a good turn out on the gate of true full ticket sales for a race when there is so much indecision, this is the wrong call, and should be cancelled and put back the way it was . go back to baharain next year.

  • Comment number 88.

    i think canadian people are going to protest and demonstrate at montreal gp against formula 1 going back to Bahrain.

    If this were to happen, and if people in valencia, britain, germany, brazil, italy, korea , japan and india all start using formula 1 as their Tahrir Square becuase the Bahraini government bulldozed the main square in that country........not very long and people will be using formula 1 to attack the Chinese on its human rights issues and on the matter of Tibet.

    The FIA has made a mess by re-instating the Bahrain F1 , the consequences of which could mean China F1 is now under threat.

    Thank you in advance to John Todt and Bernie Ecelstone for bringing freedom to Tibet

  • Comment number 89.

    @ Darth_Krid

    People were also complaining that Africans in South Africa were trouble makers in the 1980s when rugby, formula 1 and other sporting events were pressured to boycott South Africa

  • Comment number 90.

    Spare a thought for all those who have made major travel plans (as well as all the hoteliers) for the Indian GP. To move their date is a disgrace. I once went to Malaysia to see that GP and my entire six week holiday was designed around that date. If it had moved it would have been a disaster.

  • Comment number 91.

    also @ darth_krid

    the Bahraini media has arrested doctors and medical professionals and accused them of poisoning people to make it seem that they were injured by army and police.

    This alone shows that Bahrain is no better than Belarus and Burma.

    You seem more and more like those people who supported apartheid South Africa right to the very end and those who supported Adolf Hitler until Nazi Germany was defeated.

  • Comment number 92.

    Darth Kid: The only reason no one took that evacuation flight was because it was going to Abu Dhabai. Now if Bahrain isn't/wasn't safe why would Abu Dhabai have been any safer?

    You and other expats bring up the mess at the tuition fee protests in London...I don't remember any tanks at those protests! If you guys have truly abandoned any loyalty to democracy well...fine but Bahrain sold itself to F1 as a liberal democracy! We were had!

  • Comment number 93.

    I'd just like to say what a pleasure it has been to read most of these comments - mostly well informed, well argued, genuine contributions. A very nice change from the usual nasty slanging matches that most comment columns descend into. Well done everyone. Andy

  • Comment number 94.

    Everything is normal in Bahrain: Jean Todt

    Everything is normal in Tripoli: Saif Ghadaffi

  • Comment number 95.

    John Todt and Bernie Eccelstone who are you fooling?
    Of course it's a COMMERCIAL decision to race at Bahrain, money is the prime motive.
    In my opinion, for what it’s worth, it’s a stupid decision.
    Both the Bahrain ruling party and the people will try and make political gain from the event.
    Has the FIA gone the same way as the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and FIFA?

  • Comment number 96.

    I an expat living in Bahrain and the FIA and media in general seem to be oblivious to the fact that the issues facing the country have not gone away. There is a major security shut down in progress. To get home each day we go through three or four security check points and every Thursday and Friday night there is rioting, shooting and tear gas. Does the FIA really think this is the right environment for a GP? Bahrain needs to sort its issues and the FIA supporting one side (or infact any side) is the wrong approach. We all know that this can only be solved by dialogue, but the political position the FIA is taking, supporting the Khalifa's, will not lead to unity. If the GP goes ahead I think anyone visiting the race will need to be extremely careful - and I am a motorsport enthusiast!

  • Comment number 97.

    In answer to F1NUT.

    Do u mean when sponsors say "Drop yr pants" FIA, FIFA and IOC say "How far?"

  • Comment number 98.

    Do u mean when sponsors say "Drop yr pants" FIA, FIFA and IOC say "How far?"
    Not exactly, the threat of the sponsors pulling-out of FIFA didn't do much to change things.
    What's lacking with large sporting organisations is INTEGRITY!

  • Comment number 99.


    Sorry but I thought I saw other expats commenting that the situation is fine over there and that the Western Media are on some anti Bahrain campaign and that generally the whole thing has been blown out of proportion! Why is your account so different?

    Don't worry, I'm on your side here. You clearly don't live inside a bubble.

  • Comment number 100.

    In answer to F1NUT

    Sure. They have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the dynamics of world morality. Even today W Hague had to give the FIA a nudge.

    It's a pity they lack the mental compass to take the lead in these situations..


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