Saturday, 21 April 2012

F1 Bahrain GP – Right or wrong?

I write this on the eve of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix 2012. This is normally a race that doesn’t receive a huge amount of coverage from the Western media compared to, for example, Monaco.  In 2012 however, this is definitely not the case.

The focus in the media isn’t the racing though. The various political and civil unrest issues in the Middle Eastern country is the key news hook, but the complexities of this are far beyond my understanding – I only know what the media are reporting. Plus, this is a blog about the world of motorsport, so I’m going to stick to the fundamentals here.
Ultimately, what I am asking myself is whether it is right to stage the GP in Bahrain this weekend. When Force India mechanics were caught in a skirmish between police and protestors on the way back from the track to their hotel on Wednesday evening, the media began to feature the event higher up on the news agenda.  Then the ‘will they, won’t they’ debate intensified when UK politicians waded in, which in all honestly just became the usual slagging match between the leading parties arguing about what is right and what is wrong. Since the Force India incident, as far as I’m aware, there have been no further violent events affecting any of the F1 paddock.

Everyone has an opinion on whether F1 should be at Bahrain or not. It should be noted that F1 is a private business - Bernie has a contract with Bahrain and teams are obligated to attend as a result (they have sponsor contracts too remember). In theory, F1 should be in Bahrain. If anything, F1 is being used as a vehicle of exposure for both sides of the Bahrain situation, which has raised the issue to the world. 
I have no doubts that the race will go ahead tomorrow and will probably run smoothly, although the threat of some kind of protest on Sunday may rear its head at some stage.
Will the F1 race contract be renewed with Bahrain?  Probably not – and personally I don’t like the setting for the track – it’s featureless and it never appears to be that well attended.  F1 won’t be worse off if it doesn’t go back…there will be plenty of circuits queuing up to take the slot if it becomes available.

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