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What happens to F1 if Bahrain is cancelled?

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Gordon Farquhar | 16:06 UK time, Friday, 18 February 2011

The cancellation of the GP2 series event in Bahrain against the background of continuing unrest in the Gulf state's capital Manama has raised serious concern about the viability of the F1 season opener on 13 March.

Bernie Ecclestone has promised a decision on whether the race can go ahead next week. At present, the Bahraini authorities are trying to sound optimistic. Cancelling the event would be a huge blow to them.

Constructed in time for the 2004 season, at an initial cost cost of around £100m, the area surrounding the circuit has since been identified for a huge investment project worth more than £1bn.

It'll house business, entertainment and educational space, according to the planners. Perhaps they cast an envious eye in the direction of their Gulf neighbours in Abu Dhabi, where the extraordinary Yas Island project is the home of the state's own Grand Prix. The track costs alone reportedly stand at £800m. The Island? More than £25bn.

Bahrain held its first grand prix in 2010. Photo: Getty

The Bahrain Grand Prix is scheduled for 13 March. Photo: Getty

These Grands Prix matter to the Gulf states as they attempt to establish their importance in the world, their voice on the international stage. They make headlines and showcase the nation. They're part of foreign policy. Look what the 2008 Olympics meant to China.

Bernie Ecclestone understands the desire for nations to use sport to promote their international credentials, and he's been quick to exploit the opportunity. The truth is, those countries need F1 more than F1 needs them.

F1's global landscape is rapidly changing. The appetite for breaking new ground continues undiminished among the major sports organisations: look at FIFA. The success of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa must have been a factor in emboldening the executive to go for Qatar in 2022, along of course with the commercial opportunities. The Gulf states are the big spenders in the sports field at the moment and their ambitions are high.

F1 has already established itself in Asia, with China and Korea joining Singapore, Malaysia and Japan. This season for the first time it goes to India. F1 isn't short of nations wanting a slice of the reflective glory. In 2012 the circus returns to the United States in Austin, Texas. 2014 should be Russia's debut.

The calendar is already packed. This season for the first time there will be 20 races. Expansion has its limits in terms of what the teams can cope with or are prepared to put up with. If the Bahrain race goes, it's very unlikely it can be rescheduled.

The churn has seen some of the old established races like the Austrian Grand Prix fall away. The British Grand Prix hung by a thread, before a long-term deal was done. Sentimentality isn't Bernie Ecclestone's strong suit; deal-making is, and the effect of the government-led bids to stage races in new territories has been to force the old guard into improving their act, upgrading their facilities, doing things better.

While embracing the new, F1's established acts have become stronger too. The Gulf Grands Prix have helped the commercial rights holders for the sport turn over more than $1bn (£616m) according to the 2010 accounts, and double the profits to $193m.

F1 is a successful brand which would survive the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix, should it come to that. The worst of the damage would be felt in the local economy, and reputationally by Bahrain.

F1 will move on. It has no shortage of suitors.


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  • Comment number 1.

    I'm more worried by the threat of not having the Bahrain GP and what the leaders there will do to restore order. Personally I think that the F1 teams should think about boycotting nations that so viciously repress protest.

    It won't ever happen, of course, as there is too much money involved.


  • Comment number 2.

    The track costs alone reportedly stand at £800.

    Sweet, Can I have one?

  • Comment number 3.

    Good blog although pretty sure the track didn't just cost £800, good investment if it did though.

    Hopefully the event doesn't get canceled though as I can't wait for the F1 season to start up again!

  • Comment number 4.

  • Comment number 5.

    Move it to Quatar :) it's right next door

  • Comment number 6.

    Um, this blog doesn't actually answer what it asks as a header... What happens to F1 if Bahrain is cancelled...

    I didn't need to read another article about F1 expanding across the globe, I would be far more interested in what happens to F1 in 2011 should the BGP2011 be cancelled, and if it is, what the implications will be with regards to money allocation, a spare race slot on the calendar etc.

    The contract for 2011 is for a 20 race championship... what happens if the sport cannot fulfil this side of their own contracts....?

  • Comment number 7.

    I've always felt like these "new world" races are like somebody paying for the privilege of being invited to someone's party. It's right to say that F1 can easily survive without these races, but caution should be exercised when relying on too many countries who just throw money at the sport, and other sports, in order to establish themselves as a "brand".

    We all know F1 is motivated hugely by money. But how long before become cynical about how the sport is run. Much like Manchester City fans might feel. If your beloved club becomes just a cog in a huge advertising campaign, what becomes of the values that helped build the club in the first place.

    There's no doubt F1 should push boundaries, technological and geographical, and it should try to maintain its glamour and distance from mundane every day life. But there's a limit to the value of accepting money from people simply wishing to be invited to the party.

  • Comment number 8.

    As someone that attended the Bahrain Grand Prix in '08 the place seemed to be untouchable by politics, much safer than the average Middle Eastern state, the ultimate break from reality - pretty much my best holiday ever and from someone that hadn't planned on touching the ME with a ten foot bargepole previously, that's saying something.

    And memories of that weekend have become interspersed with that of the generic chaos that is sweeping the region for better or worse and I look back on my closing line of my report from that weekend "may peace and happiness be with Bahrain always" with...embarrassment I guess is the right word. I have no idea what the island will be like a year from now.

    In the short term, well if the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix does get gives Bernie's plans for global expansion a serious flat tyre. He saw places like Bahrain as the future of F1. He gets a lot of money from that deal. If the Bahrain GP sinks, who else is going to give him that sort of money? Is anyone going to give him that sort of money or is he going to have to lower the asking price for a Grand Prix and have the sport fall back more towards Europe.

    The sport's in unchartered territory.

  • Comment number 9.

    I personally think that people's struggle for legitimate representation and a degree of democracy is infinitely more important than the F1 circus. If the race is cancelled - so what!! There is also the small matter of chickens coming home to roost. Mr Ecclestone seems quite happy to award races to whomever can stump up the most money with little or no regard as to whether democratic freedoms that most Europeans take for normal prevail there.

  • Comment number 10.

    Politics mean nothing for Formula One, or any other sports. Why should it? The Olympics went ahead in China despite pollution and human rights protests from most countries. The World Cup went ahead despite violence and street crime, North Korea even showed up to the party. Bernie has been quick to point that out, he wont get involved with any personal issues you, I or the country itself has, he has to run an international sport. I hope he sticks to his controversial guns and continues with the race. It would be foolish to believe that the Bahrain government and public don't want a race, I have friends there who profit very highly from this once a year opportunity and are scared it may not go ahead. To claim that this is all for money sickens me, no one wins if the race doesn't go ahead.

  • Comment number 11.

    steveb_1990 "i have friends there who profit very highly" . that really says it all doesn't it?

  • Comment number 12.

    Sport should be apolitical but I'm afraid the Bahrain situation is now beyond that. Sometimes you have to make a complicated situation simple. Killing peaceful protestors who are asleep is abhorrent, we have to take the higher moral ground. F1 can't go. If it does this 30 year F1 veteran won't be watching.

    Life requires double standards but the need to boycott Bahrain this year should be blindingly obvious to anyone who watches the news - accept of course to Eccelstone in his ivory tower.

  • Comment number 13.

    The "what if" part of the article title seems to have been ignored in the context of the new season though. So the following points deliberately ignore the political rights and wrongs of what is going on.

    If for example the Bahrain GP is cancelled, what happens to all of the freight that holds the teams trackside infrastructure that is currently on route by sea to Bahrain? If the unrest spreads in Bahrain and this affects port operations then will the freight be turned around quickly enough and sent on to the next destination? Although the teams have multiple set of trackside equipment these are scheduled with specific timings to ensure things are in the right place at the right time, so what other GPs could be affected as a knock on if the freight is held in Bahrain?

    Logistics planners at the teams may be pulling their hair out.

  • Comment number 14.

    Poor blog, does not answer the question it set.

  • Comment number 15.

    there is a contract for 20 races so if this one is cancelled could they not just race somewhere twice? say malaysia and then go back there after brazil. they would have nearly 6 months to organise it sell tickets etc

  • Comment number 16.

    I just signed in to express my view, but MarkG in post 12 has done it for me.
    Bernie Ecclestone's attitude sucks. The grand prix will be cancelled.

  • Comment number 17.

    I'd love it if the race is cancelled.

    It's the most boring race on the calendar.

    Someone really needs to plant some trees or lay some grass. A desert and a grey strip of tarmac is not what I want to look at for 2 hours!

  • Comment number 18.

    I heard a rumour that South Africa are going to convert the Cape Town stadium in Green Point into the pits with the track gong through it (?) and the track, part road circuit and part constructed through the city and around the mountain.

    Would be a far better aesthetic substitute.

    Probably nonsense though...


  • Comment number 19.

    What I find sickening is that it seems more important to the organizers of F1 that 'stability' is restored (ie dictatorship) than human rights being upheld.

    Today there are reports that troops are firing on civilians. That a predominantly British organisation is prepared to stage an event in such a country shows how low the British ruling classes are prepared to stoop for money.

  • Comment number 20.

    @ those saying the blog doesnt answer the question.

    Read the last 2 paragraphs.

  • Comment number 21.

    They could hold a re-arranged Grand Prix at one of the myriad of british tracks, donnington park, brands hatch, snetterton?

  • Comment number 22.

    The answer to the question "What happens to F1 if Bahrain is cancelled", is quite clearly laid out by the closing statement of this blog.

    "F1 will move on. It has no shortage of suitors."

    Is that not a valid answer? I think it is.

  • Comment number 23.

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

  • Comment number 24.

    Well done Bernie another self inflicted disaster! Lets drop all the traditional GPs in favour of unstable countries with boring characterless circuits with no spectators.This will not be the last problem in this area.Money rules OK!

  • Comment number 25.

    Confusing blog. If you pose a question 'What happens to F1 if Bahrain is cancelled?', then one would assume the writer would attempt to discuss that. All we got from this article was a rehash of well known items such as F1 likes to seek out new markets and that Gulf nations like to buy sporting events.
    I was more interested to learn if there would be financial problems from canceling the race from sponsors and TV who might feel short-changed. After all the sponsors signed on to a full season of races and one less race is hours less TV coverage.
    Also, if the race went ahead, would sponsors be willing to advertise themselves to the Bahranian government in the current circumstances?

    I guess we will have to look to another article to find that debate.

  • Comment number 26.

    Err photo alex. From what you said you could argue that we wouldn't be having a British GP. Did you see the riot police pulling a disabled student from his wheelchair and dragging him across the street? Seems worse to me than liberal use of tear gas.

    I don't really see it as F1's job to boycott nations however. I think the Human right abuses can be left to the UN and Amnesty rather than Bernie. Personally i don't see the argument. The people of Bahrain appear to be mistreated/ have the right to protest denied, therefore make sure no international sport is held there. Would denying them sport help too? not for me. If its meant to send a message by removing the financial benefit, I'm not sure that applies either. A) UN sanctions would be more effective and B) I was under the impression that the new calender events made a loss as were hugely subsidized by government. (hence why they could outbid traditional circuits)

  • Comment number 27.

    It's all about money at the end of the day isn't it?
    Frankly, I'm very upset at the thought of the Bahrain Grand Prix being run this year or any other year.
    It's only when real focus is placed on a nation, as is happening in Bahrain at present, that the ordinary citizens of the West can see what is behind the millions of dollars of investment.
    Political repression of the Shia majority, electoral corruption, torture of Bahrani human rights activists and now brutal state tactics to crush reasonable peaceful protests by people who have long suffered a regime which denies them a voice.
    F1 is an international global brand, a sport enjoyed by many citizens in the Free World and people who believe in basic human rights, democracy and freedom. Are we really going to continue to enjoy our sport in a country which has so little respect for the basic rights of it's people?
    After all the Bahrani people are only fighting for rights we already enjoy, and probably take for granted, but which we demand.
    To support the Bahrain Grand Prix is to support the ruling family of Bahrain who have funded the event and committed human rights offences against their own people. I'm sure Mr. Ecclestone would like F1 to sit on the proverbial political fence but their isn't one in this case.

  • Comment number 28.

    oh and I think the problem with changing venue is the fact they ship quite alot of the "stuff" they take and fly as little as possible and therefore logistically it wouldn't be possible if the parts were half way to being shipped to Bahrain.
    So i think if its cancelled then next race is the opener unfortunately we might go 1 race short.

  • Comment number 29.

    SleepingSpurs wrote: "That a predominantly British organisation is prepared to stage an event in such a country shows how low the British ruling classes are prepared to stoop for money."

    I'm afraid this is one decision you can't blame on the 'British ruling classes', no matter how keen you are to do so. Especially considering the rights are held by CVC partners, based in Luxembourg. And the most important team (receiving the largest share of revenues) is Ferrari, with Todt leading the FIA. Bernie is still the figurehead, but I doubt he's ever considered himself a member of the 'British ruling classes', and most of his interests lie abroad.

    It is simply incorrect to say that F1 is a 'predominantly British organisation', that is ancient history.

  • Comment number 30.

    I vote to cancel Bahrain F1 this season. Why publicize Bahrain's internal problems? The world already knows and danger to F1 culture is not worth the risk. Formula 1 will survive.

  • Comment number 31.

    Responsibility is to fight your OWN fight, not other people's. Young Ecclescake knows his job, and its a disgrace that people begin to charge him with political responsibility. How about ask Mr Hague what we should do, as we appear to be doing little diplomatically. I'd like to know if the people who's comments load BE with responsibility actually knew or DID anything about this "repressive regime" until the current shots leaked out. Humph... Go Bernie!! Vive le Ole Cock!!

  • Comment number 32.

    I agree it's not up to Bernie Ecclestone to decide on political decisions, but the (is it F2? not sure) race is not going forward is because the racetrack medical staff are needed in the hospitals from the brutal violence inflicted on the population.

    Oh and steveb_1990 do you think they should call those staff back to the track?

  • Comment number 33.

    No matter what we think about the on-going situation across the region and the consequences of the same, all life is scared. I am sorry, but to put profit before the sanctity of life is morally reprehensible. Nobody, but nobody knows what might or might not happen if the event takes place- certainly not Mr.Ecclestone. For all anybody knows there could be a re-run of other sporting tragedies, we should err on the side of caution. Those in "Control" are not asking the question; "What if?" Until they do, such issues will continue to arise.

    If the pleasures of the few are ruined to save innocent lives - so be it - I can live with it.

  • Comment number 34.

    Won't be missed. It's a boring racetrack with no overtaking opportunities.

  • Comment number 35.

    They could race around the circuit in Tanks!

  • Comment number 36.

    I've watched F1 since i was little and Barain is definitely the most boring race to watch. Bernie has been saying some races that are currently on the calendar will need to go, so i don't think this race will be missed. He should bring back races like Portugal and Austria, thay were always good races to watch.

  • Comment number 37.

    Ive never liked these new gps which are completely focused on promoting the countries they are in instead of providing a great race, races like bahrain shold be cast aside to make way for the best racetracks the world has to offer, not the biggest spenders.

  • Comment number 38.

    Right, so what does happen to F1 is the opening race is missed? Cause nothing in this article addresses what the headline says it does.

    However, for me its not now a case of if, but should, headlines of:

    Bahrain troops 'fire on crowds'

    make the idea of holding what is after all a festival of excess in a country that's doing that untenable.

    Last week I would have been disappointed if the Bahrain GP was missed, now I will be ashamed to be an F1 fan if it goes ahead.

  • Comment number 39.

    I wont be sorry to see the cancellation of Bahrain (either as a one off or permanently) for a myriad of reasons, some of which have been stated here. It's just a GP I have absolutely no feeling for. Cant say I'm too impressed with their government's treatment of the people either, but then I could say that about most countries.

  • Comment number 40.

    I am a bahraini citizen.. I enjoy watching the F1 here in my home country. But i really hope that Bernie Ecclestone knows that by supporting this race he is supporting a dictatorship regime he is supporting the killing of peaceful protesters in this country.. He will paint the Bahraini F1 racetrack in red from the blood that is spilled. We need human rights here not a Formula 1 race!!

  • Comment number 41.

    What will happen to F1 if the Bahrain GP is cancelled? Nothing. There will be 19 races and the show will go on. What will happen to Bahrain in the short, medium and long term? I think that question is a little more important.

  • Comment number 42.

    I guess the logic would be swop with ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX on venue and place.However with unrest likely to increase everywhere in the world nowhere is garanteed.Both India and Russia could be scrapped completely.

    With cameron 'Soup kitchen and human Rights Bill' civil unrest is almost garenteed in the UK too.

  • Comment number 43.

    What happens to F1 if Bahrain is cancelled? Simple

    It starts 2 weeks later in Melbourne!
    Bahrain wont be missed, I think a few teams wouldnt mind missing the 1st race.
    I cant see why another track can just put something together to get a race hosted?
    Melbourne satrts sorting itself out a month ahead of the race...would be the best but I can see what the logsitical problems we have like the equipment in Bahran, tickets and such...why not have 2 races in Australia?

  • Comment number 44.

    What will happen to F1? Very little over losing one race. Some disappointed followers and sponsors.
    If this political stack of dominoes means a handful of races are lost this season? Well cricket and football survived WW2.

    What would it take to get the F1 audience (and therefore advertisers/sponsors) to turn against the middle east axis, who knows?
    The few tribal leaders who wield so much power over the world and therefore over their populations, do so because we pay $100 for a tank of gas. We paid for their palaces, at the cost of losing European GPs with great tradition, we paid for their boring VIP box circuits.
    Let nature take its course, perhaps San Marino & Austria will return, Spa will be guaranteed, whatever happens this year the threads will just be picked up in 2012.

  • Comment number 45.

    I'm an F1 fan first and foremost. The Bahrain GP has been one of my favourites since it was first introduced... Not just for the spectacle, but I also like the circuit....

    The political situation has to take priority over everything else... at the end of the day, it is just a race, which can be rescheduled next year. Of course there is money involved, but why let safety of the fans, drivers pit crews and media representatives be at risk for just a race.

    In my opinion, if it is unsafe, then cancel the race. Hopefully we can enjoy the return of the Bahrain GP next year.

  • Comment number 46.

    well with all due respect to the bahranians and the cause they protest for, this GP was always boring and would'nt matter if it got teams more time for testing

  • Comment number 47.

    Firstly I must correct you on the 2010 World Cup being successful, it was the worst World Cup that I have witnessed (and I'm not talking about the performance of the England football team) in terms of quality of football on show. This was down to poor facilities in particular poor quality pitches.

    Going to Qatar in football like going to Bahrain in F1 is not about expanding the sport, it's about business. It allows FIA delegates and FIFA delegates an opportunity to expand their private business interests into the Arab states where there is a lot of oil money being thrown around rather than any notion of sporting expansion.

    A lot of very exciting tracks have been thrown out of the F1 calendar so that Bernie Ecclestone can sell races to the highest bidders and therefore line his own pockets.

    These new locations and new tracks have largely seen less exciting races in comparison to the older 'classic' circuits which have survived on the calendar. Bahrain is a prime example of this and I would not be upset if the season didn't go there. Quite frankly I'd be delighted if F1 doesn't go back.

  • Comment number 48.

    Rob Jones. Brilliant idea. I wish I'd thought of it. That way if the Bahrain thing doesn't work out it gives the FIA time to work out contingencies. 13 November should give enough time to either move the race or things to calm down.

  • Comment number 49.

    By the way just to prove I was being defamatory.

    and people treating him like a God

    Schumi is a bad driver and I'd much rather watch the Bahrani GP without him!

  • Comment number 50.

    It'll be quite unfortunate if Bahrain is cancelled but they have to do what is right for the drivers and teams and currently going to a country where there is huge political unrest and where people have died in the protests, would not be responsible for a sport which hogs the international spotlight. Personally, I've never been a fan of the Sakhir circuit and have always preferred the opener to be in Melbourne so I'd be a bit happy if F1 didn't have to go to Sakhir. Furthermore, they can always go there when the situation is not as dangerous to the teams.

  • Comment number 51.

    That should of course say wasn't being defamatory. Somebody complained I was being defamatory about Schumacher.

  • Comment number 52.

    It is a harsh reality that without spending by Britain it will lose the grand prix for a long time. The Gulf states are just made of money and in order to compete with these places Britain must also spend money on Silverstone which it has been doing. Bravo to China and Singapore for attracting Formula one but they just do not attract the number of local visitors to make it a viable business for the circuit developers and promoters. India will hopefully do very well out of the deal but i cannot help but think that F1 will be the true winners from the deal, afterall i dont see F1 people digging foundations and sweating to get the track finished in time

  • Comment number 53.

    The commercial imperatives here are clear BUT the elites in F1 have to make a moral statement. It doesn’t have to be explicit, let them make whatever press statements they like, but they can’t go. Can you imagine Martin Brundle having his normal ‘thanks for hosting this wonderful event’ chat with the Prince on his grid walk, the man whose army shot unarmed civilians? Sorry, this complicated situation is very simple. F1, at this point, simply can’t shake hands with a regime that’s just shot it’s own unarmed public.

  • Comment number 54.

    I'd argue whether F1 is a sport. It seems like a rich boy's hobby to me, where excess and corporate cheating and/or funding wastes a shedload of money whilst burning bigger holes in the ozone layer.

    ....that said; I am shocked that the rich boy's are even considering taking their toys to a Bahrain playground any time soon with the situation there atm.

    Protesters are being shot at with live rounds in the streets.

    Have some respect F1. Sheesh.

  • Comment number 55.

    "These Grands Prix matter to the Gulf states as they attempt to establish their importance in the world, their voice on the international stage. They make headlines and showcase the nation."

    They matter for the extremely rich Farquhar.

    The Gulf States, with questionable human rights records and a large slave under-class of pan-Asian workers trapped there in disgusting conditions.

    You're a journalist Farquhar....whilst you paint the rosy red, and talk billions and business investments...try scratching under the surface.

  • Comment number 56.

    you know what its really all about, who's got the biggest club and the most money and not about racing or the fans,your average fan cannot afford to go to silverstone never nind the fly away races....disgusting ecles should be ashamed of himself.

  • Comment number 57.

    Oops i mean 'Disgusting eccles should be ashamed of yourself' sorry for the mistake.

  • Comment number 58.

    MarkG makes a very eloquent point, should "certain" people be making money from the blood of others? My view is that Mr E would shake hands with the devil if he could make another million pounds. Take a step back and think for moment; Unarmed protesters, yes we all have the right to protest, are being killed and injured, to my mind unjustly - they are only asking for change. Is it right they should suffer such treatment? No, the plug should be pulled, by not doing so shows that said actions are being condoned for the sake of a expediency. Mr.E has not thought this through, not asked the question: "What if" or seen the possible consequence. Imagine the furore if a driver, team member, journalist gets unfortunately killed - F1 will be tainted, possibly finished - for ever. The only answer is to stop this race going ahead - stop it now.

  • Comment number 59.

    Part of the problem is that F1 doesn't want to be seen to be taking sides in this and I suspect the sport is in a no-win situation whatever happens.

    All bets are still off as to how Egypt will play out...what's stopping Bahrain from becoming another grudge-against-the-West Middle East state if the revolutionaries win?

    If the moral question wasn't complicated enough you've then got the logistical question of how the hell do you get the equipment turned around? I don't envy anyone that has to make these deisions.

  • Comment number 60.

    I love F1 but I love humanity and its future more. Everyone thought Bahrain was democratic until a week ago because we were not told and nobody bothered to find out what the political situation was. The people are calling peacefully for democracy with the result that the ruling elite have killed and injured hundreds. For F1 to now put money into their pockets will be tantamount to legitmising what they have done. F1 has to boycott unless the call for change is heeded. If they dont regrettably I will have no choice but to boycott F1

  • Comment number 61.

    If it's on I'll watch it, if it's called off I'll probably watch the footy, but the political situation is of no particular interest to me.

    I agree that Bernie was right in hoping things might blow over, but if things continue I guess he can say that the drivers aren't guaranteed getting to the hospital safely and you can avoid making taking a side.

  • Comment number 62.

    This shows up F1 for what it is, overpriced overhyped and over here (if there's enough money to be earned).

    Ecclestone is so far removed from reality that it's unbelievable.
    Just like FIFA he does not choose where to host the event because it's a good place to stage it, but because the most money can be potentially earned there.

    Why does anyone care anymore? It's not unlike the Premier League, it's not about sport, just about money.

  • Comment number 63.

    "I hope we don't have to do anything. Let's hope this all blows away."

    I cannot believe the crassness and insensitivity of this comment from Ecclestone. Is he utterly blind to the world around him? No wait I think I already know the answer to that question..

  • Comment number 64.

    I suspect the main reason why F1 is not ready to cancel the race is down to the fact that Ecclestone won't get his money, if the venue staging the race cancels due to security concerns he gets to keep the money and allows for a bidding process to take place so that the race can be held later in another country.

  • Comment number 65.

    A simple short term solution is have the shipping companies divert to UAE and hold two GPs at the Yas Marina this season. This will show that international sport still values the moderate parts of the Middle East. Alternatively, as someone else has suggested, a second UK race. There are many tracks here that could comfortably accommodate a race at short notice. Brands Hatch, Donnington, etc. I think the unique design of Rockingham, with its banked turns and twisty infield, along with excellent visibility for spectators, would bring a new dimension to F1. This would be especially popular with the UK based teams who are mostly based within 50 miles or so of Rockingham.
    But this does call into question most of the new GPs. Most are in nations that have issues with human rights, poverty, or massive abuse of the environment. All have detracted from the romance of the sport.

  • Comment number 66.

    From a sporting perspective I'm not that sure the race would be missed that much, as the last two Bahrain GP's have been dull races anyway.

  • Comment number 67.

    I think the race wont go ahead. Money does rule BUT...

    It would be much worst if protesters turned up by the thousands at the track - Live on TV - guards would try and prevent them entering and it would end up with more dead.

    Will the teams want to send there staff. You can replace all the equipment but try getting all those team members out of the circuit and into the airport if it all kicks off.

    Every F1 team must have insurance for all there staff and drivers. Will they even cover them and if not then the F1 teams cant send anyone.

    Lives of drivers and staff could be at risk. Do we really want to find out the hardway what could happen. I think we should forget about going and get planning a race that can be fitted in on a spare weekend late on in the year.

    To Thecamelstory, Rockingham is a great idea, every race is great to watch track layout makes for good overtaking, plus modern venue.

  • Comment number 68.

    Logistically I'm convinced Virgin's chap is incorrect - it is a 240 mile door-to-door drive through Saudi to get to Losail in Qatar, which hosts MotoGP night racing and would surely get the nod for a race. Its facilities are better than places like Monza so that should not be an excuse. 1 day in hired trucks with ISO shipping containers on the back - easy peasy in terms of logistics.

    More important, though, is the fact that regardless of whether 'order' is restored, Bahrain has in the eyes of many onlookers given up any right to be considered worthy of hosting a race. The world walked away from South Africa as a nation for hosting sport because of its vile politics. Perhaps top level sports like F1 should make a stand to reject countries that fire upon peaceful protesters, assault sleeping women and children for having an opinion, and turns its armed forces onto funeral processions, fires anti-aircraft weapons into crowds trying to take the dying and wounded to hospital, and blocks access to the hospital. If F1 goes to Bahrain on the basis of a secure environment that has been secured in this manner, it should be ashamed of itself.

  • Comment number 69.

    as #66 said, the Bahrain grand prix is boring anyway so it doesn't matter if we get rid of it

    secondly, there's got to be better options away from the Middle East, i get it's where the money is but let's face it, there's not that much passion or commitment to racing or many sports, one in Abu Dhabi is enough.

    I understand Formula 1 needs money to survive, but it should go where the atmosphere is and where the crowds will come, not to some heartless land without any future in the sport

  • Comment number 70.

    I think Zoot said it best...

    what a grand prix needs is trees and grass to make it interesting!!

    I agree because the cars and drivers do bugger all to help!!

  • Comment number 71.

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

  • Comment number 72.

    wasn't Autopolis cancelled in 1993 due to financial difficulties and Donington moved inot it's place?

  • Comment number 73.

    It would be scandalous and insulting for the Bahrain GP to go ahead at a time when its citizens are being shot in the streets. Even if there are some whose only thought is for how much money they'd lose, surely there must be others in F1 with a little more integrity who can see how badly this would reflect on the sport in general.

    Going forward with the Bahrain GP would lose F1 far more than a minor monetary penalty, it would stamp F1 as the sport of corrupt oppressive playboys willing to do anything to make a buck. Formula One has acted out of political considerations before - the South African Grand Prix was cancelled between 1985 and 1992 as part of the international sports boycott, so there is certainly a precedent.

    And let's face it, the Bahrain circuit is hardly stellar - last year was the most exciting season in a decade, yet the Bahrain race was the most boring of the century so far. F1 doesn't need Bahrain, and it can manage quite fine without having to chase regimes who think they can buy respectability by throwing around their cash.

  • Comment number 74.

    This is an extremely strange piece of journalism.

    Am I right in inferring that you think Bahrain people are being rude in misbehaving so? I hazard to guess that the timing of the civil rights protests forgot to factor in Bernie's race. What a bunch of ungrateful wretches!

  • Comment number 75.

    what a price to pay for entertainment, please do not deal with dictators in England peaceful demonstrations are accepted. In Bahrain they are met with the worst kind of violence. These tickets are stained with innocent peoples blood. Send a clear message to the leaders of Bahrain to stop the killing.

  • Comment number 76.

    Bernie Ecclestone is a humanitarian he once gave a million pounds to the labour party, for which he was heavily criticised. I do not believe he would side with a dictatorship. It is the rulers of Bahrain that must be held accountable for this situation.

  • Comment number 77.

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

  • Comment number 78.

    To Paul Miller and kendodsdadsdogsdead having a dig at steveb_1990:

    Obviously I don't know this steveb_1990 character, but don't you think when he refers to high profits he could simply be talking to local businessman such as shop owners, or provide some kind of daily service...just a person with a normal job who quite clearly would profit (relatively) heavily from the tourism generated by the race???

  • Comment number 79.

    Can you see next years grid walk? Can you imagine the BBC squirming when MB has to shake hands and fawn with the members of the Royal family after what's happened?

    When a leader advocates the shooting of protesting civilians its time to get out, and fast. If Bernie and Jean Todt still want to fawn and glad-hand the King like sycophants then so be it, but I would love to see FOTA make a stand and say 'No racing in Bahrain for us'. I emailed them today asking for just that thing, you can too.

  • Comment number 80.

    As a sponsor, would I want my logo on a car running around a track to 'big up' the image of a regime that has slaughtered its own people merely for peacefully voicing their aspirations for freedom? And then told a pack of lies about it afterwards? The sponsors are in this to improve their image, not to collaborate with murderous dictators, even if Bernie doesn't give a toss, the major sponsors should tell him how it is.

    All the teams can find space on their cars to send a goodwill message to Robert Kubica (sentiments I entirely agree with). But if they race in Bahrain, they'll have to race around with no message or no comment whatsoever on the dozens of people killed or injured by the thugs who paid for this GP. Bernie may not be human when money is at stake, but the teams and drivers surely are.

    The rulers of Bahrain can kiss goodbye to any hope they had of creating an image of Bahrain as civilized, open, decent and modern. All those billions of dollars - WASTED. If they don't end up swinging from the lamposts, they will live to regret the decisions they've made.

  • Comment number 81.

    I dont think the Bahrain GP will be cancelled but will be moved down the race calendar to about Round 12 in August scraping the Summer Break.
    They just delay the whole season and make it one week between all the races.

  • Comment number 82.

    first, the race should be cancelled sooner than later.

    the teams should stay in barcelona for a rearranged 4th test.

    they should then run a 'non championship' race over the barain weekend at either barcelona, jerze or estoril (only european options) or yas marina and offer the teams the opportunity to compete and use the weekend as extra testing opportunity under race conditions, or forfeit the chance for extra running.

    im sure the lure of track time would be enough to get an event on.

    they would run the race as a not for profit, low ticket prices as there would be no time for promotion. tv get the choice to show it or not bother, advertising opportunities are still there.

    you cant swap races, cos that wud undermine ticket holders that have made plans, and you can't reschedule cos calendar too full. abu dahbi have paid for the last race of the season, and that is what they'll get.

    to those asking, i'm 99% sure that Brands Hatch no longer meets full FAI standards for F1, hence they weren't interested when Donnington were. Donnington is incomplete and out of the question at the moment. Snetterton???? not long enough for starters. someone mentioned Austria. the track is currently out of use, although now owned by red bull, so you never know in distant future, but not now.

    i'd like to see something, but realistically theres prob little they can do with 3 weeks to go. event management is not easy

  • Comment number 83.

    There's no way they could move it to a later date as the calender is set and agreed to. There's no way they could move to another circuit as the logistics would just be to much (in terms of arranging marshals, hospitality, ticketing, hotels for race teams never mind fan's)

    I believe it's Wednesday (am sure someone will point out if I have the wrong day) that Bernie has to decide by as that's when the kit is shipped out.

  • Comment number 84.

    I think comments regarding that fact that some consider Bahrain to be a boring GP and so won't be missed completely miss the point and show little sympathy for the people of Bahrain.
    Ecclestone's pursuit of more lucrative markets has meant that F1 has moved away from countries with fantastic circuits to countries willing to pay the most to host a race. Whether these circuits produce exciting racing or these countries give their people democratic freedom are not considerations to which Ecclestone gives a second thought. I think this is proved by the insensitivity of his "I hope we don't have to do anything. Let's hope this all blows away" quote.
    Just a week ago he was talking about the current schedule of 20 races and the the fact that existing GP's would have to make way for new markets when he said:
    "If we have some new races, some others will fall out - we don't need Australia, for instance"
    I think you might this year Bernie!

  • Comment number 85.

    I can't believe the shallowness of Ecclestone. He wants the repressive regime to suppress the will of the nation just so he can run his little race. BTW, I am a big F1 fan but prefer races where overtaking happens outside the pit lane.

  • Comment number 86.

    The worrying thing was that I actually believed Bahrain was an open and free country, because it was marketed as such when F1 was first introduced here in 2004! How wrong was I, how wrong were we all...

  • Comment number 87.

    I find it a bit sad that the one concern is about the first race of F1 not going ahead. Personally, I cannot wait for a new season to begin, but there are people dying in Bahrain at the moment because one of their basic right is not being guaranteed. It would be a great signal if the F1 circuit did not go to the country because of the abuses and repression the people of the country are enduring, rather than just out of their own security. But as someone previously said, that isn't going to happen because when too much money is involved, all the rest is ignored.

    There are many pilots in the F1 world that claim to come from very difficult backgrounds etc. I would admire them immensely if they could take a big step forward and say that the GP shouldn't go ahead not because they are scared for their own security, but because a country that does not respect basic human rights should not be part of something as big as the F1 championship, regardless of the economic factor. But I reckon this is more of an utopia than an actual possibility.

    People in Bahrain will keep on dying, the F1 circuit will move on to Australia two weeks later and no one will care about this after a few days.

  • Comment number 88.

    Far be it for me to defend any country that violates human rights but let he who is without sin cast the first stone. America operates Guantanamo where people are incarcerated without trial and subjected to torture - water boarding - are we going to boycott all sporting events in America?

  • Comment number 89.

    The security question is irrelevant. Whether or not the Bahrain authorities can 'restore order' and guarantee security, holding the GP would be an endorsement of a regime that opened fire on unarmed protesters.

    Indeed, the prospect of the GP may encourage the authorities to clamp down even harder to restore order in time for the GP to go ahead. It would be better to tell them it is cancelled anyway.

    The blog doesn't address the question, what happens if the GP is cancelled? I suppose another hastily arranged GP is out of the question, but could there be an additional test weekend instead?

  • Comment number 90.

    Maybe, just maybe this is a rare example where Bernie's unique and incredible talent for spotting opportunities for Formula Bernie, AKA F1, did not quite identify all the risks. Bernie controls, totally, and so exploits opportunities with rich autocratic regimes around the globe to enhance the show. I think we all have been surprised at the domino effect from Tunisia and most of all in Bahrain. I doubt Bernie will want the first show of the year sabotaged and as things stand, the Bahrain GP is already tainted; who among we F1 afficionados wants to see the race held within a curtain of steel, empty grandstands and a goolag ambiance? Lets get started in Melbourne.

  • Comment number 91.

    Wow a lot of hate for Bernie here, and i can't say im particularly surprised!
    I agree with post #67, we had a protestor on the track at silverstone a number of years back which caused problems, and with a huge number of protestors, an internationally broadcast sporting event would create for them the perfect way of getting their message around the world. Therefore I can see security there being a massive problem, and if we do go there, the race being called off halfway through the weekend as protestors are either killed trying to get in, or overrun the circuit.
    As for whether we should go there even if the unrest is resolved - well to my mind it should. It was not the most thrilling of races, but the people there seemed to love it, and it will provide a great economic boost to those in the area around the circuit.
    Also to all those people who have said it is a disgrace to go to a country where there is this sort of undemocratic regime or whatever, I'm pretty sure this situation has not changed since the race was first held there, and i can't remember general outrage when they first announced the race would be held there!
    If Bernie needs to lose one or two tracks to make room for new ones in the calendar, I think this one should be one of the first to go however, as it is a fairly dull race normally.

  • Comment number 92.

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

  • Comment number 93.

    Ok the race should be cancelled. So what are the commercial ramifications .... Teams lose sponsorship revenues? Contract clauses in f1 for 20gps renegged upon - though would this be caveated by force majeure clauses? Logistical costs incurred, can teams claim that back? Especially lower funded teams could do with any money back. TV rights holders lose revenues as well.

    Could this race be replaced during the European rounds of the season? Probably, there are no shortage of circuits that could host a race for F1 to fulfil it's contractual obligations Imola, nurburgring, magny course and dare I say at the risk of further lining mr E's already bulging pochet Paul Ricard.

  • Comment number 94.

    My comment is awaiting moderation because I am a new member????
    I have been a member for a few years but re-signed in about 8 months ago.
    Maybe posting on 606 does not count even though the same user name and password is accepted here??
    Hey Ho ........................

  • Comment number 95.

    Agree completely with #53 MarkG and #55 Come England Away.

    I personally wouldn't miss the Bahrain GP as I've not been impressed with any of them to date.

    Getting back on topic, however, this year's race must definitely be cancelled, whether the "situation blows over", or not, due to the disgraceful actions of the Bahraini army.

    As far as I'm concerned, the state's complete disregard for its citizens, has shown me its not fit to host a major sporting event. I would hope the powers that be feel the same way, but as several people have already pointed out, its all about the money and as long as the fat cats (and a certain diminutive dictator) get their bank acounts swelled, thats all that matters.

    For me Bernie Ecclestone perfectly sums up all thats wrong with governments, big business and international sporting organisations with his comments:

    "Speaking before reports of security forces opening fire again on protestors in the capital Manama on Friday, Ecclestone said: "Our people there say: 'It's quiet, no problems'.

    "I'm more hopeful today. I hope we don't have to do anything. Let's hope this all blows away. In these parts there's always been skirmishes.
    Perhaps it's a bit more than that."

    Thank you for confirming my opinion that you are a greedy, odious little man, whose concerns only go as far as your latest bank statement.

    Unbelievable how people can be so blinkered and uncaring, but there you go...

  • Comment number 96.

    The teams now have an 'out' : as the FCO are advising against travel, meaning FOTA could use the FCO advisory as this is non essential travel and would almost certainly be covered by insurance and contractual clauses.

  • Comment number 97.

    F1 was around long before the likes of China and the Middle East even thought about hosting races and if it weren't for BE's unreasonable financial demands, it could survive without the megabucks showered on it by the newest host nations.

    If the people who run F1 had even a shred of decency, they would think long and hard about where they choose to hold races...but thats just wishful thinking on may part...

  • Comment number 98.

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

  • Comment number 99.

    I went to the Bahrain GP last year (2010)and I know that it seemed boring on TV but it was brilliant being there - I loved. The people were wonderful and the weather was great. So I booked to go back this year and have been really looking forward to it. The unrest is a bit of a surprise and given the present situation I cannot see the race going ahead. That is probably the right thing but it will cost me over £1000 and insurance does not cover this type of situation! Its not like I can use the money to go to another event - its gone!

  • Comment number 100.

    f1 should move back to europe more avoid disturbances


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