Bahrain to end state of emergency two days before FIA decide on race

2011 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Bahrain deadline
Bahrain deadline

The good thing about Adolf Hitler, mused Bernie Ecclestone two years ago, was that he could “command a lot of people” and “get things done”.

So it’s not difficult to imagine him admiring how the rulers of Bahrain have got things done in the three months since their Grand Prix was postponed.

One of the things they have done is keep the international media out, suppressing coverage of what has gone on in the country in recent weeks and months.

One team of reporters who did make it into the country earlier this week heard stories of schoolgirls being beaten and threatened with rape on suspicion of their involvement in the February and March protests.

Further details of what has gone on in Bahrain since the postponement of the race make for grim reading.

Earlier this week that King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa declared the country’s state of emergency, which began six days before the race was postponed, will end on June 1st.

Coincidentally – or perhaps not – the FIA World Motor Sport Council meets to discuss whether the race should happen just two days later.

Jean Todt’s words to Autosport last week stressed the FIA’s desire to “support” Bahrain’s efforts to hold a race this year:

“We completely sympathise with the problems that are happening, and we all understand that it would not have been possible to keep the Grand Prix as the first race of the championship. […]

“Fortunately things have improved, but they were not in a position to commit definitely – and I had a discussion with Bernie, with the government, with the ASN, and they asked us if we would accept one more month, which means until the next World Council on June 3, which I accepted.

“I think if you are in a difficult situation, you need support. That is our responsibility. We need to give some support and it will penalise nobody to have a final answer by June 3.”

While some F1 journalists are considering not attending the race on principle if it takes place and at least one team has dropped hints it would not go, Todt echoed Ecclestone’s claim that F1 should not take a “political” stance.

He said: “I don’t think we could get involved in what is normal, what is not normal. Let’s hope there is more peace in our world and we can enjoy the sport.”

Todt is kidding himself with these bland platitudes. There is no apolitical stance on this matter.

Giving unqualified support to the government of Bahrain and handing them an F1 race as a reward for their violent suppression of pre-democracy protests would be just as much a political decision as taking their Grand Prix away.

Should the Bahrain Grand Prix go ahead? Cast your vote here: Should the Bahrain Grand Prix be held in 2011?

Cartoon by Gurmit for F1 Fanatic. See more of Gurmit’s work here.

2011 Bahrain Grand Prix

    Author information

    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    123 comments on “Bahrain to end state of emergency two days before FIA decide on race”

    1. The image =D

      I still don’t think it’s necessary for it. Can’t they wait till next season when they have everything completely under control instead of hoping it will be by November (Or whenever it will be held).

      1. To be honest, as long as the Khalifa’s are in power I don’t want to see the Bahrain GP at all. The damage they’ve done to their international reputation will take decades to repair, not an extra 6 months

        1. I think their Crown Prince really was trying to get reforms in. Just the hard liners (supported by neighbouring Saudi Arabia) won back the momentum and pushed through.

          In that respect, its interesting to see that now a younger (and hardliner friendly) of the kings sons is being put in the spotlight far more. Shows this is really very much about politics.

        2. Entirely agree with NF. How anyone connected with F1 could look the democratic world in the eye and try to claim that going back to Bahrain was ‘OK’ is deluding themselves. It would be the 2011 equivalent of happily turning up for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

          Simply by being there ( in Bahrain ) you make the wrong political statement. The brutality with which this medieval regime has supressed dissent is sickening.
          Schoolchildren terrorised into submission, doctors beaten and detained for treating the injuries of anyone the regime disapproves of.

          Ecclestone reminds me of the people who said we should all welcome and maintain sporting ties with the South Africa of aparthied. It was wrong then. It’s absolutely wrong now.

          1. The worst thing is, current hard boiled reactions by the government are only going to increase discontent. Look at this interesting article about how that has already happened.

      2. That image is really good.

        All the evidence shows, its rather going silent for lack of reporting on it and other headlines rather than really turning to anything most people here would consider “normal” in Bahrain.

        This feels suspiciously like finding a route in, as Todt puts it “giving support” to a strategy by hard liners in the government (the PM) and neighbours to crush rather than talk and reform / develop (as tried by the Crown Prince who has now disappeared from the spotlights).

        1. We had a journalist at uni last week to talk about how the revolts in the arab world have been experienced by them. She talked about all the countries that have had ample coverage in the news. When I asked about Bahrain’s absence in the news, she simply answered there’s no way for TV journalists to get in easily now. The situation is apparently like in Tunisia under Ben Ali.

      3. graham228221
        13th May 2011, 19:23

        On the other hand, the FIA allowing them to host the GP and then the teams, journalists and fans not showing up would draw way more attention to the terrible behaviour by the ruling party there.

        If they had the GP arranged, they’d have a very strong impetus to get things properly sorted out by October/November – otherwise the world’s media will have a field day.

        Not saying that awarding Bahrain would be an entirely positive thing, but there might be a silver lining…

        1. I agree. If they were allowed to have it, then they would have a deadline to sort things out – if they don’t, the world’s media would expose any violations against human rights and expose Bahrain to the world.

          1. I didn’t mean human rights, because if this whole argument was based on human rights, we wouldn’t have an F1 race in China. I meant: violent oppression and killing of their own people.

      4. They were shooting unarmed protesters in the street, its as easy as looking it up on youtube (go do it instead of sticking your head in the sand, Please!) to see what has been going on there.

        Disgusting, we should NEVER be holding another GP there, but of course MONEY will rule again & there will be another Bahrain GP ….. No one will talk about the killings, it will all be swept under the rug whilst we all pretend we are civilised & it never happened on our watch.

        Shame at the world today. & a big + 1 to what Ned Flanders has written about the Khalifas.

    2. Todt is kidding himself with these bland platitudes. There is no apolitical stance on this matter.

      Absolutely. This is a disgusting situation.

      1. Todt is kidding himself with these bland platitudes. There is no apolitical stance on this matter.

        Giving unqualified support to the government of Bahrain and handing them an F1 race as a reward for their violent suppression of pre-democracy protests would be just as much a political decision as taking their Grand Prix away.

        While I agree with you completely Keith, I feel, as a journalist, you should be a little more diplomatic than this and not turn the article into your our personal rant.

        1. This is a blog, not a news site! He ahs delivered a balanced story and then given his opinion. What’s the problems with that?

        2. Isn’t that a bit harsh? And how do you equate the article to a “rant”? At the top of the page you should be able to see under F1Fanatic – “The Formula 1 Blog”. Many in the so-called “mainstream media” have crossed into the blogosphere just to get around the filter of the system they work in and generally blurring the difference.

        3. Please read the line below “F1 Fanatic” at the top of the page.

        4. That’s exactly what I hate about new wave of bland journalism. Every opinion is equal.

          “Here we have a human rights organization, and here we have a bloody regime. We must be fair and present them in equal light. We can’t quite decide who’s right.”

          This kind of “fair and balance” rhetoric is simply immoral. I’m glad, that Keith isn’t afraid to take a stance and express his opinion.

        5. In all the years I have been an avid reader of this site, one of the vital reasons I regard it as essential F1 reading is the careful, intelligent balance of the ‘editorial’ comments. Keith often expresses an enlightened opinion and sometimes I entirely disagree with his views, but that doesn’t mean his opinions should not be expressed. On the contrary, they are a critical component of our wide ranging debates.

    3. Had intended to be in Bahrain for the opening race. The political situation is just so recent that we should not go this year. As nice as the place is absolute rule is not good. Lets see what the situation is at the end of this year.

    4. invisiblekid
      13th May 2011, 9:50

      “One of the things they have done is keep the international media out, suppressing coverage of what has gone on in the country in recent weeks and months”

      Yeah I think they got Max Clifford.

      They must be very clever to predict the future and when a mini civil war will be over and everything will be fine. Go back to bed America Bahrain, your government has figured out how it all transpired. Go back to bed, your government is in control. © Bill Hicks

    5. ‘Politics should have no place in sport’… is a lie that has been nailed so many times through history that it is almost embarrassing to excuse oneself on those grounds.

      Sport, increasingly, is politics. Ruled by money and vested interests. To pretend otherwise is fatuous

      From the Telegraph article linked to above. Needless to say, I agree.

      James Allen ran an article only yesterday about drivers who are doing their bit for a good cause this week. Clearly they’re not all mindless robots, they’re human beings with feelings, and surely they’ll find what has happened in Bahrain as terrible as the rest of us. If so, I wish they could make a stand on the matter, because they have the power to actually do something about it

      1. Then the FIA would rescind their Super Licenses if they didn’t race….

        1. If all the drivers agreed not to race then there’s no may that could be upheld.

          1. yeh right…..

            1. “yeah right” glad you see sense bob it has happened before after all.

    6. The good thing about Adolf Hitler, mused Bernie Ecclestone two years ago, was that he could “command a lot of people” and “get things done”.

      Keith, I’m disappointed you resorted to this. Although Bernie’s comments were in poor taste, he never expressed a love for the idea of Nazism. At the end of World War I, Germany was saddled with the bill to reconstruct Europe. It was very unpopular in Germany, and seriously discredited the Weimacht Republic, which was the first truly democratic government the country had ever had. As evil as he was – and I will never, ever dispute that – Hitler did turn the country around. And that’s what Bernie was admiring: the way Hitler managed to turn Germany from humiliation to being a world power. But, like I said, the comments were in poor taste, and largely taken out of context by the media (he never did, after all, describe the massacre of six million people as a good thing).

      Todt is kidding himself with these bland platitudes. There is no apolitical stance on this matter.

      Yes, there is. If things in the country are so bad that the race needs to be cancelled on political grounds, then it has arguably passed the point where it is still safe for teams and drivers to attend the race.

      1. Although Bernie’s comments were in poor taste, he never expressed a love for the idea of Nazism.

        I didn’t say he had.

        1. True, but the implication is that because he showed admiration for Hilter, he must have support for Bahrain. And that makes sense if Bernie admired Hitler for his atrocities. But if you look at Bernie’s full comments about Hitler, he’s not expressing admiration for Hitler’s actions in bringing about the Holocaust, but in rebuilding Germany. On the other hand, the Crown Prince of Bahrain is not rebuilding his country. So I was disappointed that you took Bernie’s comments out of context to make a point about Bahrain.

          1. Mark Hitchcock
            13th May 2011, 10:54

            Hitler’s Germany wasn’t just about killing Jews, it was also about oppressing every citizen.
            Media control, secret military police patrolling the streets and a twisted ideology driving the whole thing. If you spoke out against Nazi-ism or the party you were as good as dead. Doesn’t seem too different to Bahrain to me in that respect so his misguided stance on Hitler is relevant to his misguided stance on Bahrain.

            1. Again, you’re only taking Ecclestone’s comments out of context. If you read them all as they were intended, Ecclestone is obviously showing admiration for the fact that Hitler turned Germany around, not what he stood for or how he went about doing it.

            2. Mark Hitchcock
              13th May 2011, 11:25

              No, I’m replying to your comment.
              I’m not sure how he could admire Hitler turning the country around yet not admire his methods.
              Did he think it was the snappy dressing and tidy moustache that did it?

            3. I’m not sure how he could admire Hitler turning the country around yet not admire his methods.

              Well, given that he has a documented history of running Formula 1 in such a way that he doesn’t care too much about the methods so long as what he wants done gets done, I’d say it’s not too difficult for him to ignore the means and focus on the ends.

            4. PM, in your reply you have just written down exactly the reason of why it made the best of sense for Keith to remind us of these feelings in an article about the current state in Bahrain.

            5. PM, in your reply you have just written down exactly the reason of why it made the best of sense for Keith to remind us of these feelings in an article about the current state in Bahrain.

              The reasons don’t matter. It’s the way the argument was presented.

            6. ??? Got me non-plussed now PM.

              Please explain, what was wrong in the way Keith presented, its

              not difficult to imagine him admiring how the rulers of Bahrain have got things done in the three months since their Grand Prix was postponed

              seeing how Bernie felt Hitler was good at things like

              “command a lot of people” and “get things done”.

              And why in your comment to Keith do you claim your

              disappointed you resorted to this

              when you mind only its presentation.

          2. Godwins law? :/

          3. PM don’t forget that dictatorships are very efficient mainly because
            a) the power and the decision centers are centralized
            b) and the civil liberties are heavily suppressed.
            When you praise a dictator, you don’t only praise his decision making, but also the fact he is suppressing his citizenry in order to realize his very decisions.

          4. Not as disappointing as you taking Keith’s comments out of contaxt in order to have another argument.

            1. I’m not convinced you know what “taking something out of context” actually means.

          5. Which illustrates once again, PM, how little you understand ( or perhaps want to understand )about the methods Hitler used to achieve the results he did. Brutality was an everyday commonplace. If you did not conform to the dictates of the state in any way or at any level you were marching down the road which would lead you, eventually, to the death camps. Dissent with the regime system was simply not tolerated. And that is uncontested fact.

            Totalitarian control of populations is evil whether it manifests itself in European, Asian, African, South American,
            or a tiny Arab kingdom with a great deal of money and not a lot of human tolerance.

      2. Not to disturb your argument, but its the Weimar Republic PM, the army was the “Wehrmacht”.

        1. Sorry to drag this off-topic, but pretty much everything Hitler did to revitalise Germany was geared to going to war someday. Separating the two is a historical interpretation I dabbled with in my undergraduate days but it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

          1. Sure, that WAS his stragegy. Creating jobs for many by producing a weaponry to get back what they saw as rightfully theirs. It worked to get the masses behind him and set the basis for being able to fight that war.

          2. exactly, even all those miles of Autobahns was made for 1 reason, to get his troops to the neighbouring countries borders as quickly as possible.

        2. German is not my first language.

          1. That is not as much about Language as about getting historic facts mixed up. I did not want to make a big thing out of it, but since you are mostly pretty much correct on facts (as for opinions … :-D), I thought I would correct you there.

          2. ‘I’m not convinced you know what “taking something out of context” actually means.’

            A prime example would be you falsely claiming that Keith said Bernie supported Nazism and then, when asked to back up your claim, falling back on the old “it’s not what he said, it’s how he said it” argument.

      3. To start with the end of your message. I take that as confirming you think the race should not go ahead in light of the situation in Bahrain.
        It certainly is at all sure to be safe.

        As for the reaction to Keith’s reminder Bernie likes clear cut, tough actions, I find your interpretation to be just as bad taste as it is not correct.

        We are not discussing the (understandable) background of why it was possible for a populist “make do” group to rise to power in the 1930.
        The point made is, that Bernie does not mind too much the other aspects of people, if only they get things done. Something that certainly can be arued to apply to the current Bahrain government.

      4. You know what I wonder? If the majority of people on the site were desperate that the GP should go ahead, would you agree with them, or would you change stance and argue that it shouldn’t? Because sometimes I suspect you’re just looking for a perpetual argument

        1. I cannot, but support this huch of yours Ned.

      5. I think you should reconsider your talking points in light of your Freudian slip of combining Weimar and Wehrmacht.

        Holding an international sport like F1 or any international sport in Bahrain at this point in time is indeed a tacit endorsement for the race organizers, namely the royals. It’s no wonder some teams have expressed their intent to unilaterally pull out. Nice to see some people still have a conscience.

        1. hear hear NJ

    7. They had their chance, they failed. The only reason they can even get back on the calendar is the gap either side of the Abu Dhabi race.

      Personally I wouldn’t miss it if we never went back there again, but that’s no reason not to. The whole thing just smacks of Korea again, desperately trying to get it going for the sake of image (on the government side) and money (on Bernie’s side).

      Every country has had its problems in the past. 1 year isn’t the same as the decades that have passed in our own countries but I feel it’s a suitable enough time to let feelings cool. Going this year would be too soon.

      1. Couldn’t agree more with everything you said.

    8. It seems the only way people will accept a race in that country is if the rebellion is a success.

      In all, you have selected a side you wish to win the fight, and unless that side wins you will continue bashing the country.

      If they come out and say the country is stable and the deaths have stopped, that just wont be good enough for most of you.

      1. I would have really accepted and welcomed such a statement, if it was made by Crown Prince AND representatives of the opposition after finishing talks and going on a road to some reform.

        Now it is just the government stating its won, nothing to see here, everything is back to normal soon. And worrying reports from various media sources showing that is certainly not the whole picture.

      2. Deaths stop because martial law is imposed.

        Deaths stop because a dialogue begins between the Royal Family and the protesters.

        Not the same things are they?

    9. If this race goes ahead i don;t think it will be shown on TV here in the UK, at least that’s the current thinking by the BBC so i’m told, it may be shown online though.

    10. yadda yadda …F1 should remain apolitical..

      The Bahraini government will use a Grand Prix precisely for political gain. It will be used a demonstration of legitimacy and as a smoke screen to hide behind. Reminds me of the circus maximus during the Roman empire. Give the world some games and no one will pay attention to the real problems.

      I can’t believe that Bernie would really let his baby be used as a political tool. Now that I’ve said it, I guess China may be another example. Oh well, money talks I guess.

    11. One of the things I enjoy about avoiding the print media is that I’m not subjected to asinine political cartoonists. I’m disappointed to find F1Fanatic doing it…..

      Or the classic clips from “The Day Today”…

      1. It’s not the first time I’ve used a cartoon or caricature on the site ( and it won’t be the last.

        Care to explain why you find it “asinine” or are you content just to hurl insults without bothering to explain them?

        1. Follow the Penny Arcade link, it sums up in a cartoon why the newspaper political/editorial cartoon is a tired, uninteresting, unnecessary format of humour. More to the point, read the news post from Tycho that’s attached to it, his arguments are essentially flawless in my mind. The Day Today did something very similar where they did “video cartoons” of topical news. Terry Pratchett did it at the end of Making Money. In all three cases I found that the concept was quickly, effectively, and terminally skewered. I don’t know why it persists at all.

          It’s a way for newspapers to Phil Space and break up a wall of text on the page. Both are unnecessary on the internet. More to the point, when was the last time anyone looked at a political cartoon and actually laughed? There’s a joke in Gurmit’s cartoon, but it’s a joke that’s months old, has been tired out long ago, and turning it into a cartoon hasn’t done anything to revitalise it. The cartoon doesn’t add anything to the article, if anything it trivialises and takes away from it.

          As always Keith, it’s your site and you’re free to do what you like with it. But I’m going to skip past the articles with cartoons.

          1. Hairs, if you noticed, there are a lot of us here very positive of how that cartoon perfectly captures the situation and gives depth to the article.

          2. so, one cartoon perfectly describes why all cartoons are “asinine”? Wow it must be one pretty powerful image to describe all circumstances, in a visual representation, why cartoons are ineffective, obsolete etc etc …. except it was a cartoon that did this…

    12. Jean Todt is right, the FIA is simply an organisation which is concerned with motorsport, not human rights. Coming from Northern Ireland i know first hand that sport, politics and religion DO NOT AND SHOULD NEVER MIX

      I can understand the view that F1 shouldn’t go there because the Bahrain government are killing innocent people and are generally not being very nice to their population but then F1 never had a problem going to South Africa for all those years during Apartheid.

      If it’s “safe” for everyone who needs to be there then there’s no reason why Bahrain can’t hold a Grand Prix in 2011.

      1. Mark Hitchcock
        13th May 2011, 13:12

        F1 never had a problem going to South Africa for all those years during Apartheid

        And that is a stain on its reputation. Lets not add another one.

        1. You’re missing my point.

          F1 could have a Grand Prix in North Korea, Iraq or Afghanistan because it’s a sport, nothing more, nothing less.

          The important thing is that no matter where a Grand Prix is held, regardless of it’s politics or human rights record, is that it’s safe for everyone to attend.

          1. Mark Hitchcock
            13th May 2011, 13:41

            I understand your point, but I disagree.

            F1 is not just a sport, it’s an prestigious event, it’s a status symbol for many countries and in cases such as Bahrain, South Africa etc. it appears to legitimise (and take money from) terrible governments and behaviour.
            To ignore that is naive and I can’t help but think that many people who argue that sport should be apolitical are doing so for selfish reasons. They don’t want to miss out on their fortnightly entertainment and no amount of real and ongoing suffering will get in the way.

            1. It seems a bit ironic of me to be arguing this point about Formula 1 which is essentially poliics with a bit of racing thrown in BUT sport is sport, it should always be void of any outside political infuence.

              For example FIFA/UEFA expelled Yugoslavia from the 1992 European Championships after it was revealed their goverment had influenced the Yugoslavian Football Association.(this worked fairly well for Denmark)

        2. Exactly. Why do people keep citing that as though it was some great decision which the sport nees to replicate??

      2. Yeah, well I guess it all depends on who and how defines “safe” (seeing you put it between semi colons).

        From most reports (apart from the Bahrain state run media and several Bahraini tweets and FB pages) it is pretty clear, that any safe will indeed have to be deemed “safe”-ish at best.

        1. aye, inverted commas…

          1. yeah, bit of a blackout there. But you got the meaning of it right?

      3. Nothing in this world is politics-free.

    13. HounslowBusGarage
      13th May 2011, 13:26

      If the race goes ahead and the political situation is not resolved, the protestors will be there in the crowd.
      One bottle thrown onto the track is all it will take.

      1. You are 100% correct and that will happen.

        The protesters will be determined to get onto world-wide, live television and the police/government/army will be determined to stop them.

        Not a good scenario.

      2. At least that, and even someone trying a bombing or kidnapping cannot be disregarded.

        Not safe at all.

        1. I don’t quite see these scenarios happening. For one, from what I understand the Bahrain situation to be, those protesting are not those that can afford to attend the race (or at least less so, on average). Second, from what we’ve seen in the Arab pro-democracy revolts over the past months, the bulk of the violence has come from the repressors, not the protesters (as is the case, time and again, in mass protests against authoritarian regimes) – terror tactics such as kidnappings and bombings have not been part of the protests.

          1. Yeah, that is certainly true. These protest have mainly been just that, only the repression with force have led to some reactions.

            But after being opressed, the chances are probably higher then ever before that someone will want to make a point.
            Making this both a politically stupid thing to go through with the race and a safety risk.

    14. I think the most apolitical thing you can do is hold the race. That’s how it was meant to be. That’s what contracts stated.

      The whole thing is getting out of hand regardless of how you view it.

    15. Despise everyone involved in this story… Todt, Eccelstone and Bahrain government.

      I didn’t want a race when in the inner racing fan in me wanted a timely (read:early) start to the season so why would I want one now?

      Time is irrelevant. It’s like sticking a plaster on a scar, it may look alright and somewhat like your skin but you and everyone knows, there’s a massive mess underneath.

    16. Cartoon says it all. And it’s not a joke if you know what I mean.

    17. I will say this: if the race does push through, don’t expect the stands to be empty. They will be full – by hook or by crook.

      1. Mark Hitchcock
        13th May 2011, 15:37

        I expect the opposite. People will be kept out for fear of trouble.

    18. Good article Keith and thanks for being a little brave.

      I appreciate it.

    19. The New Pope
      13th May 2011, 15:10

      Do you think there is any chance a driver or team would protest being involved in the Bahrain GP should they have one this year?

    20. There will be no Bahrain GP. It will stay cancelled on ‘safety grounds’.

      Even when they end the state of emergency, the travel advices form the officials in the European countries will not be adjusted immediately. Therefore everything and everybody will be uninsurable.

      If I’m wrong, we will have to defend our beloved sport again, because it is a major PR ‘bust-up’. For the common public, represented on this site, a line has been crossed. Therefore I hope it will be cancelled.

    21. It’s disgusting to even consider Formula One going back to Bahrain in the present environment. There’s no way sponsors will want to be associated with the PR disaster that would ensue if the race is rescheduled for this year.

    22. Clever and well-cited post. The entire discussion about when and whether to have that race is a depressing farce. F1 does not need Bahrain, and the reason Bahrain wants F1 so much is precisely why it shouldn’t get it. F1 is not whitewash.

    23. If Williams does pull out I don’t think it will affect them any. Its not like they would have scored points anyway.

    24. Well I think they should race there. I don’t have a problem with any of it. It’s not a democracy, it’s not England, and it’s none of our business. IF it’s safe, race. If not, don’t. Given that no journos are there, it’s amazing all the ‘facts’ that are being reported.

      Keith – try to keep it to F1; it’s a little boring reading someones skewed political views, mostly obtained through what they see on the ‘news’. If I wanted an uneducated debate on someones view on the news, I’d go to the Daily Mail.

      1. The irony of these comments about press access is astounding, but usefully gets to the core of the issue. If Bahrain is shutting out the media, why should anyone take its word that everything there is copacetic, or will be on future date determined? It seems that Keith has marshaled a lot of what there is to know about the current state of affairs there—which is information coming neither from Bahrain nor the F1 bureaucrats allegedly weighing the safety issue. Unlike a tabloid, he is not extrapolating and fabricating. And unlike Bernie, he is not parroting official bromides.

        We have brains to make up our own minds based on available data. And in my mind, the information tends to show that the country is no more a favorable state for a race than it was before the season—except that the jails are now more full of people with political grievance, and fear of finding one’s head under a hired Saudi combat boot is more widespread.

        So even if one’s scruples limit your concern to the safety of the teams and spectators, it’s the regime’s information blackout that puts that issue in doubt.

        More to the point, there is no separation between the political and practical here.

      2. AA- If you want to stop visiting F1 Fanatic, I’m sure no one will miss you

        1. I like the blog. There’s many out there to choose from. Mostly I like Keiths writing also, however on this occassion I thought his personal views overpowered it.

          Journalism is about point/counterpoint; not done very well here. Not knocking the blog, I love it. For an idea on the correct way of going about reporting Bahrain from an F1 point of view without getting personal views in the way, see Sawards post on the same subject at

          1. Seeing you brought up Mr. Sawards blog, look at posts like yours (from a mr. Bill Day) and the reaction to it from Saward under this article.

            Its a blog and the author can put his opinon on it. Keith gives enough facts and then presents us his opinion after considering those facts. He even lets us comment on this, what more can you ask for!

      3. I run the site, I’ll put my own views across whenever I see fit and I’ll thank you to give me a little more respect than calling me “uneducated”.

        1. I called the debate uneducated, not you. Apologies; as I stated I really like your blog, but the debate on Bahrain, not just here but everywhere, is based on rumour and 2nd and 3rd hand sources and as a journalist myself, this frustrates me.

          I understand you can and should put your own views across, it’s what makes the blog interesting compared to many others. Equally the comment section is for me to put my views across. It’s ok for people to have different views; it’s what makes life interesting! :-)

          Keep up the good work on the blog; I like it very much and that’s why I come here.

    25. Love the article as always. I understand people having a different point of view, but what is with the petulant whingeing?

      Everything in this article is factual with the addition of Keiths opinion at the end. Each controversial point is in green and therefore linked to another factual story. How can you argue with the facts?

      Maybe you could disagree with Keiths opinion, which I do personally. I think we shoud race there as long as it is safe to do so and let the politicians of the world sort out the problems of the country. Would you object to a football match there?

      1. If it was an international football match of a comparable scale to the GP (say England vs Bahrain), yes I absolutely would

        1. So if England played Argentina, you’d put aside your views on the situation and prefer to see the game played in Bahrain?

    26. Please let the race go ahead. I, for one, don’t need to hear the: ‘He’d have definitely won the WDC if the Bahrain GP had gone ahead’ type arguments. And all of this long after they had supported its cancellation.

      If it’s safe, why not go there? The majority of people in China and India (and there are a lot of them!) are probably much worse off than any Bahrainian citizen ever will be on a normal day to day basis. Who will champion their cause?

      1. The difference being that there’s no mass protest or a violent crackdown on a mass protest in either China or India at the moment. If things reached a flashpoint and “peace” was restored after government action, F1 should stay out of China and India as well until things return to a more or less normal state of affairs.

        And I say this as an Indian who’s very excited about the Indian GP in october.

    27. If the race is rescheduled later this year, I will simply not watch it. There is a point when you shouldn’t go too far in being a fan of F1. I love the sport, and I’m really thrilled at (almost) each race. But I don’t want to take part in one of the worst thing that can happen in business. Because for the FIA, the FOM, and the authorities of Bahrain, all that matters is to get a lot of money regardless of the suffuring of people (and of the quality of racing). And for me, this is bad, and I will not watch it.
      (and I might miss a dull race anyway).

      1. Good comment, those are my feelings too

      2. I agree with that, feel pretty much the same.

    28. Woah. Some of the comments on here are a bit intense. In my opinion we shouldn’t go, it would be encouraging a dictatorial response to people asking for democracy, which is fundamentally wrong.

      On a lighter note, the Bahrain GP is rubbish anyway, and the changes to the track didn’t exactly fill me with confidence this year would be any better. Whether it’s 19 or 20 races is irrelevant, the most points wins.

    29. sid_prasher (@)
      13th May 2011, 21:11

      This is a real tough one. I am OK with 2 countries refusing to play each other because their relations are in a mess [has happened a few times in cricket, including the world cup – 2003].
      But I am really not sure if an organization can sit and judge on such political issues. I mean where do we draw the line? By the same rhetoric there should be no racing in China either – where the Noble Peace Prize winner is languishing in Jail.

    30. The crux of the issue here is whether the Formula 1 community (e.g., fans, teams, FIA, sponsors, etc) are prepared to endorse a Bahrain GP when they all appreciate this will mean the authorities will impose extremely strict security immediately before and during the race weekend.

      We know already there have been many deaths, medical staff treating the protestors beaten, citizens detained without their families’ knowledge, and at least four people sentenced to death in a court case held behind closed doors.

      So how much more of this kind of activity is ‘acceptable’ in order to have a race, given further deaths, arrests, etc., are almost inevitable.

      As Bonkers Bernie takes F1 further down the ‘entertainment’ road, then what price a life for your continued entertainment?

    31. The Bahrain GP has been like a dark cloud hanging hanging over the season thus far. Honestly, I don’t care if there’s never another GP there. I just wish it would blow away.

    32. F1 goes to China, Malaysia, Singapore and Turkey. All countries where people get mistreated, tortured or even killed for their opinions/beliefs or their ethnicity.

      Why is Bahrain such a different situation?

      In fact even Paris had it’s riots from the underpriviliged muslim youths. Does that mean that an F1 race in France is made impossible by that? Protesters were shot by police then too.

      The only real issue is the safety. So far travel advice is to refrain from travelling to Bahrein unless travel is “essential”.

      If that doesn’t change then of course there can’t be a race there.

      1. The Bahrain situation is made complicated by the fact it’s a tiny country, so F1 cannot be safe.

        Furthermore, because it’s a tiny country, the protests are “nation-wide” meaning something is up with the whole country and it’s not just some demo in one city. It would be akin to having student riots mowed down by the police everywhere in England and the same thing would happen as is now with Bahrain.

        Bahrain is a different situation because…it is a different situation.

        1. The safety issue is different yes. I already said that.

          I’m talking about why the moral debate only applies to Bahrain.

      2. Well, I am pretty certain a French GP would have been cancelled if it would have been planned to happen in the middle of those french riots.

        1. There was no negative travel advise during those riots.

          Again though, I’m talking about the moral debate. When protesters, trying to storm the police in Bahrain, get shot it’s a moral barrier for ever racing there again. When the French (Chinese, Malaysian, Turkish, Singaporese) police does exactly the same, there seems to be no issue with it at all.

          Why not?

          1. I had a longer answer and my computer went plonk, but now I’ll just say that the examples you cite are just different on many levels (French police shot a youth, after which riots exploded – definitely not the same). And let’s not forget that the Bahrain race is directly paid for by the same government who’s doing the shooting. China is the most glaring current stain on F1 as far I’m concerned, but even there things aren’t as clear cut as they were some years ago. And a lot it is just timing – if Tienanmen were happening now, most people would say F1 shouldn’t be in China.

            1. I think your shortened comment still gets the picture over quite clear Maciek.

    33. Brilliant :D Hopefully we get 20 races after all!

    34. [ Normal programming will resume as soon as possible ]

      If I proposed cancelling the Canadian GP because the cops arrested a thousand or more protestors at the last G8/G20 summit, or cancelling the Brazilian GP because the government does nothing about underage prostitution, or Silverstone because the Met Police arrested (or didn’t) the kids who dinged up Charles and Camilla’s RR on Regent Street – you’d all say I’m as nutty as a fruit cake.

      So, please, let’s get out of politics and return to Formula One. I’m a fanatic

    35. We could say that we shouldn’t go back to China until their internet access is no longer censored. There are many ways to oppress a people without resorting to violence. Do we always have to wait for the fighting to start before we say that enough is enough?

      1. It’s not even just censorship. The Chinese have killed hundreds of protesters in the last few years (2005, 2008, 2009).

        Hundreds got shot in the 2008 march protests. Yet I don’t remember anyone arguing that the race in China should not be held since the prestige of the F1 race would support the regime.

        1. Got any links for stories on those ‘hundreds’? I don’t remember hearing anything remotely like that…?

        2. Well there were certainly a lot of people talking about going to china when the race was planned for the first time.

          But I guess having the Olympics there etc. have taken a bit off the argument of going there now.

          I am certain, there is a lot wrong in China. But hundreds of deads in a country as big as China is pretty bad, but hardly compares with the current situation in Bahrain with hundreds of dead on about 600.000 inhabitants.

    36. For me it is simply about f1. Not nazis/bahranis, which I feel are one of the same if I believe a lot of the opinions above. If the decision is made to give them a race, I will be there and will enjoy it. So will many of the people that oppose the idea now, because at the end of the day it will be about 24 cars going racing. Which is why we all read this site.

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