How should FOTA react to the Bahrain decision?

2011 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Start, Bahrain Grand Prix, 2010

The FIA’s decision to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix has done more than just hand a propaganda coup to the Bahraini government.

It has also thrown the latter part of the 2011 F1 calendar into disarray and presented a direct challenge to the Formula 1 Teams’ Association to take a stand against Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt.

The decision means that, one-third of the way into the season, we know neither how long it will be nor when it will end.

The fresh problems created by the FIA’s ‘solution’ for keeping Bahrain on the calendar also revealed the lengths it and Formula One Group will go to keep cashing cheques from the Al-Khalifas.

The Indian Grand Prix

On the face of it the postponement of the Indian Grand Prix, ostensibly to give the organisers more time to ensure the circuit is complete, is a laudable move, given the difficulties the South Korean race organisers experienced last year.

But by dragging the Indian Grand Prix into the mess, it looks rather more like the FIA and FOM are trying to weaken FOTA’s position.

A key part of their objection to the race was on the grounds of extending an already packed schedule by another week or even longer. FOTA’s opposition on that issue is now aimed at a new and valuable addition to the F1 calendar.

You have to wonder why the Indian Grand Prix organisers were willing to put their race in such a vulnerable position. It’s not hard to imagine they were given little choice in the matter.

A championship in doubt

Putting the jeopardised Bahrain Grand Prix in the place of an existing race, and attempting to add a new round one week or more after the season was supposed to end, is an extraordinary move on the FIA’s part.

Not since 1963 has a world championship round been held in December – and in that year there was half as many races on the calendar.

At a stroke they have created a whole new problem, casting a shadow of uncertainty over the latter portion of the season.

The sudden appearance or disappearance of a race at the end of the year could have an obvious and inevitably controversial effect on the outcome of the championship.

This should have been resolved and put beyond doubt on Friday. Instead the FIA, running true to form, has postponed the decision and not even settled on a date for the Indian round.

All eyes on FOTA

Ahead of the World Motor Sport Council meeting the teams made it emphatically clear to Ecclestone they would not race in Bahrain.

So adamant were they that Autosport reported (in its print edition): “Bahrain’s hopes of holding a Grand Prix in 2011 are set to come to and end this week after it was accepted that security and logistical concerns make the race impossible to run.”

All eyes are now on how FOTA will react to the race’s reinstatement. Will they accept the decision and swallow their concerns about travelling to Bahrain?

As recently as Thursday the British foreign office downgraded its travel advisory on Bahrain, saying it “we no longer advise against all but essential travel to Bahrain”.

However there remains cause for concern over whether the Grand Prix can be held safely in four months’ time. The foreign office’s warning to “exercise caution, particularly in public places and on the roads, and avoid large crowds” does not sound like a suitable environment for an F1 race.

The moral implications of racing in Bahrain are even more troubling and some of the teams’ drivers have admitted so. Mark Webber wrote on his website last week: “As a competitor I do not feel at all comfortable going there to compete in an event when, despite reassurances to the contrary, it seems inevitable that it will cause more tension for the people of that country.”

Inevitably, the decision is seen as a test of the unity of the 11 teams (HRT having left in January).

The most obvious fault line is president Martin Whitmarsh’s connection to the Bahraini royal family, who are part owners of McLaren.

FOTA have promised a “detailed joint position” on Bahrain and invited feedback from fans, which you can send via the email address on their website.

Reading the thousands of comments on the subject posted here since February, and the results of the poll taken in April, it’s clear the majority of F1 fans are against the Bahrain race.

How do you think FOTA should respond to the FIA’s decision? Should they boycott Bahrain? Should they refused to race beyond the original end date for the season? Have your say in the comments.

2011 Bahrain Grand Prix

    Image © Mercedes

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    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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    233 comments on “How should FOTA react to the Bahrain decision?”

    1. let the BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX take place.
      otherwise where do you draw the line when every time there are riots anywhere you stop the sporting activity?

      1. Tom Chiverton
        6th June 2011, 11:44

        The government of most counties won’t slaughter it’s citizen’s. The line is fairly clear.

        1. Which country hasn’t done that?

          People get shot in “protests” in every country.

          Even in the UK protesters die from police brutality:

          Of course in some other countries it happens on a bigger scale. For instance, take Brazil:

          Unofficial estimates show there are over 3,000 deaths annually from police violence in Brazil, according to Human Rights Watch. There are constant complaints of racism, abuses, torture, executions and disappearances. Not all states record police killings or keep accurate statistics.

          China violently beats down protests every year. People get killed by the dozens in those police actions.

          How do you think Turkey deals with Kurds when they protest? They call them terrorists and lock the whole lot of them up (or shoot them). In prison they get tortured.

          It’s simply preposterous to claim that Bahrain is the only (let alone the worst) of the countries that F1 vistits. Far from it.

          1. Yeah England is such a difficult place to live…

            I think your missing the point, This is happening now, it’s something very visible. Do you want your F1 to be no more than a tool to be used by the Bahrani king?

          2. Have we really reached a point in the debate where an irresponsible police officer using a truncheon is likened to an army firing on its own citizens, just to make a point? Especially when the point, so to speak, misses the point.

          3. Here is an answer to that from the unlikely source of Pitpass!

            Sounds like coming from Bahrain with a vengeance.

            1. Absolutely chilling BasCB. How can anyone who has the least interest in F1 ignore such reports as these. Yes, we have bad events that take place in UK. Yes, the situation in Brazil has been apalling for years. Yes, the Chinese governments idea of freedom is terrifying.

              But we can only bring to bear the right kind of pressure for governments to change their ways if we take the chances we are given to show just how strongly we feel about oppression and injustice.

              As has been said often enough before, ‘just because we can’t do the right thing every time doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do the right thing when we get the chance.’

              That Pitpass report tells us all we need to know. F1 must not go the Bahrain.

            2. That’s brave…

      2. I’m happy to draw the line at oppression, torture and crushing of protest for democracy.

        If the grand Prix does take place I’ll be boycotting it.

        1. SirCoolbeans
          6th June 2011, 12:09

          Exactly, this isn’t just another sporting event or race in a country with problems. This is a sporting event being used for PR by a nasty government and F1 is allowing that to happen.

          I shall be boycotting this race too.

          1. Because Grand Prix racing has never been used for propaganda by a government before… Nazi Germany anyone?

            This is not a new problem. Whatever the decision it needs to be clear and consistent. Cricket has got into a lot of hot water for boycotting South Africa during apartied but doing nothing about what took place in Zimbabwe. When there is inconsistency the result looks political, and that can be bad too.

            So, whatever they do they need to make sure there is a protocol that can be applied consistently in similar circumstances.

        2. Agreed, I really hope that the teams boycott it first.

          1. I hope the BBC boycott it.

      3. Most countries don’t get more violent as a direct result of F1’s presence, and also most countries’ examples of violence are unlikely to present a threat to the operation of the race itself. It’s dubious as to whether Bahrain’s even going to be possible from an insurance perspective but it could take a lot more bloodshed before F1 discovers this :(

      4. Riots might not be a reason to stop a GP from taking place.

        But this GP was dropped back in March because of riots escalating into people being shot, beaten, detained and tortured by the government on a large scale. Dropping it was the only right thing to do.

        Now that same government tells us all is fine again, while the news is clearly showing that is more wishfull thinking then reality. Should we, go along with that government? In effect have F1 be used for politics. Certainly not.

        And above that, how on earth can someone guarantee safety for the team members, let alone the media or visiting fans.

        1. Not racing because of political situation is taking a political decision; and if F1 does not wish to go to Bahrain now it has no business to go there next year too… because the political struggle will not end in few months. Then F1 should put it’s moral hat on & try to figure out which other countries it should avoid, maybe countries which went looking for WMDs in Iraq should be avoided, maybe countries like Russia & China where there is suppression of political voices, media with brutal force. next questions should be asked which teams are getting financial support from questionable sources… i’m sure then many things will crop up which if the same moral principle applied to other countries aswell.

          And if the people want to argue that Bahrain is special case; then the other side would say maybe a middle east country with muslim population has been judged again with a different yard stick by the west and they will be the first to point out many HR violation of different countries & still F1 is happy going those places. And if this happens then it would drag F1 in a real time political mess which would be far more murky than what would happen if it quietly races there & comes out w/o making any political comments…

          1. would also like to add that teams who oppose the race should also suspend their business in Bahrain, maybe Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault et all stop selling their cars there. airline companies of Mallya, Branson, & Tony Fernandes stop flighting connecting to Bahrain. Red Bull stop selling it’s drinks there till they feel it’s ok to race there.

            if this is not done then it’s pure hypocrisy to criticize the event.

            1. Dear Dev, simply by writing as you have you are making a political statement. You have declared your position politically.

              Simply by being a team racing in F1 you are making a political statement. Simply by taking sponsorship money you are making a political statement.

              Politics is all of human life and all human affairs and the words of a man with the the kind reputation Ecclestone has on this subject of politics are, as usual, beneath contempt.

          2. I don’t think there is any precedence for messing around with the calendar to give the Bahrain government another chance the same year. The British government doesn’t give any money to Bernie, and we have seen in the past he doesn’t want to do any favours for Silverstone or the BRDC, therefore it would be hypocritical for him to make allowances for Bahrain for much more serious issues than muddy carparks or lack of helipads for sponsors.

            Racing there would be a political decision: that Bahrain’s government gets to influence the F1 season because Bernie wants their money. If F1 is determined to show it is above politics (wishful thinking to me), then it should say “Too late, you missed your slot. See you next year.”.

            1. that should have been said when it missed the bus in March, but then F1 bosses said they will reschedule the race if conditions were safe. now to say that you missed the bus would be contradicting that. also would mean that f1 pays compensation to Bahrain for boycotting race there despite safety issue being addressed.

            2. I think suggesting the “safety issues” have been addressed is a bit of a leap.

              I think you are underestimating the situation in Bahrain, People are being arrested, there are many reports of violence and torture, there is a complete media blackout so we, the west, aren’t able to see what is going on.

            3. … not to mention the fact that Bernie himself said last week that he couldn’t guarantee the teams’ safety, let alone the safetey of the photographers and journalists.

          3. You might be right Dev, if this would have been a question on deciding weather to leave Bahrain on the calendar.

            But in light of the fact that they did all they coud to reinstate it after it was put off, means now the FIA is already playing to a governments political tune.

            1. true but knowing how things are tight when a contract is signed & you have agreed to race later on if safety issues are addressed would prove to be lot more costly.

              Bernie will say to teams compensate me or stop all business of your parent companies in Bahrain before you tell me it’s not the right thing to do.

            2. If you are fine by “adressing” safety issues with military security forces, random roundups of people, beating and torturing and detention of possible critics, I understand your point.

              For me, this is certainly not the case.

              And to get back to the point I was making, how regular is reinstated after the organiser fails to get it in the planned time slot?

        2. The last time journalist were in bahrain (during the media black out) they were tarred with the same brush as the protestors so they certainly cannot guarantee the safety of anyone. If a protest happens and you see it the only people that will deffinetly be safe are the ones who are watching from home which i hope is no one.

      5. Soumya Banerjee
        6th June 2011, 13:45

        Its not just about riots. Think! The season will end in the second week of December, at the end of which the teams’ engineers will have their hands full to make a car by the fourth week of January. As a result, we may not see teams bringing in revolutionary parts in the following season. F1 will become more conservative, do you want that?

        1. once in many many seasons if they have to work an additional weekend is not a big deal… besides they can ask for additional compensation from teams or start testing a week or two later. but not racing jus because it’s late in the year would not be strong enough reason.

          1. They are working 3 more weekends than they did not long ago as it is. The calender in becoming increasingly large, growing to 21 next year even. I think there is a limit to what you can ask the engineers to do.

        2. The guys @ the track are not the same guys who develop the cars.

          And besides, only the teams still in the hunt at the last race will continue developing their 2011 race spec car. The others would have already begun working on their 2012 spec the second they realised they had lost all chances.

    2. I’m not sure it is so simple with HRT not being a member of FOTA. The organisation – in my view – won’t work without all the teams being a member. What happens if HRT go to the Bahrain race and – as the only team there – are declared the winners? Virgin, Lotus and potentially Williams would lose out.

      HRT are rather key in this whole ‘game’ – which is disappointing.

      However, if sponsors start pulling out of the Bahrain grand prix – which is possible – then that will put the nail in the coffin on the race. That would add an unexpected twist to the whole affair.

      1. Now that will be interesting, a replay of something like 2005 USA GP?

        1. At the USA GP, the problem became apparent over the course of the weekend. The teams were already there.

          I would presume that any team that was going to boycott the race wouldn’t turn up at all since (apart from the fact that it would be a waste of money) the safety of the personnel is one of the key issues.

          1. To be honest, if none of the other teams went there, would HRT have to resources to organize their own individual travel? And if there were only 2 cars racing (with the other teams not even in the country) then TV coverage would be pulled and I expect the race would be too. If ALL of FOTA agree to miss the race then it won’t go ahead, regardless of HRT.

      2. I think if that happened HRT could never expect any help or recognition from the other teams again. It would the Rubicon of all Rubicons for a team to do that.

        The foreign office’s warning to “exercise caution, particularly in public places and on the roads, and avoid large crowds” does not sound like a suitable environment for an F1 race.

        Well there won’t be any trouble on the last part, the Grand Prix should be the perfect place to avoid large crowds!

        1. It think you’re right about that Icthyes. I don’t think HRT would play a major role in the decision.

          1. John Edwards
            6th June 2011, 22:10

            I think HRT would know better. They know in situations where it’s down to the discression of the other teams whether they are allowed to race or not this would destroy any such hopes of any sympathy.

            They may prove me wrong and go for the constructors points which by rights gives them a shed load of money.

            44 points was good enough for 8th last year in the constructors. So 43 for a 1-2 (if they finish the race!!!) would put them at least ahead of the “new teams”.

      3. I’d be surprised if the contract between Ecclestone and the Bahrainis doesn’t include a stipulation for them to supply a minimum number of cars – which two would almost certainly be lower than.

        This hypothetical scenario wouldn’t be the same as the 2005 United States Grand Prix where all the teams were present, but only three of them actually started.

        1. Well I can see two issues with that contract that are unknown and need to be thought about:

          1. What would the repercussions be on the teams who do not turn up? This could range from fines to being thrown out of the championship

          2. What are the stipulations regarding minimum entrants? I see your point that the round might not go ahead but there must be some sort of benefit for the team(s) that do turn up. For example – the fines from 1) above might amount to the same amount as the difference between 11th and 12th in the constructors championship.

          I just don’t think its as simple as FOTA simply saying they won’t race.

          In reply to Icthyes above too – of all the teams, I really don’t think HRT care about anything but the money thus far. Their statement of intention to protest the Monaco GP results (even if they haven’t) shows their willingness to be unpopular for their own benefit.

          1. I think the minimum is about 18 cars. That was where the 3 car teams idea stemmed from when teams started dropping out a few years back (6 x 3 = 18). But it might be a completely different number by now.

            I would think Bernie would have possibilities to give less prize money to teams that do not turn up. And maybe they could be penalized by the FIA as well.
            But what would a WMSC meeting then look like?
            The Manufacturers representative, Italian and Spanish vice presidents, Indias representative Mallya, not to mention Venezuelan representative, etc. would have to agree with a ban or penalty for the teams.
            And would the FIA be really content to talk about this again and remind the world how bad it is in Bahrain?

        2. The FIA is entitled to cancel any race where fewer than 12 cars are available for it. I can’t imagine the figure Ecclestone and the Bahrainis agreed on will be lower. In fact, the contract was signed before the new Concorde Agreement, so the limit should be 16 (the old Agreement said 20 but the lower one for the circuit takes into account the potential for mid-weekend injuries and technical exclusions).

          If 5 teams didn’t go, the race would be endangered. USA 2005 shows that the FIA will probably attempt to run the race regardless of numbers (unless of course nobody shows up), but even one team refusing would be a powerful statement. Sadly I don’t think any team has the necessary control over its own destiny to do so.

          1. I think only Ferrari and Mclaren could afford to not turn up and pay any huge fine. Unfortunately they are the 2 teams least likely to do anything to upset the Royal family – too many car sales to risk upsetting anyone

            1. Red Bull could surely afford it without any trouble at all.

      4. If HRT go and the FOTA teams won’t want to go, and, as you say, Lotus, Virgin and Williams decide to go to beat HRT, then Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso will go to beat Williams, and Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull will go to beat Sauber, and we will have everyone.
        If the FOTA decide (which I hope) not to go, and HRT decided to ignore them and go on their own, they should go on their own and lose the respect of many fans.

        1. this is a little OT, but how awesome would it be for the HRT’s to be on the podium??? xP

          But in all seriousness the race should not take place, i do not see ANY upsides to this, no silver lining.

          1. That would be a big problem.

            As 10th in the WCC gets money. 11th doesn’t. Nor does 12th.

            Lotus nor Virgin will score that many, if any, points this year.

            If HRT along with say even up to 7 other teams went, it would only take a 3 way crash and a couple of DNFs through tech failures to give HRT a point.

            Hel, if HRT went and no other did then HRT would finish on 43 points, more than Lotus or Virgin, or possibly Wiliiams or Force India.

            They get more funding for 2012 and Lotus mises out.

            As someone said above.

            If HRT go and the other think the race will go ahead.
            Virgin will go to grab the points themselves are score money
            Lotus will go to cover it and ensure that they can come 10th in the WCC.
            Force India, Williams and Torro Rosso will then feel a bit worried depending on points and would have to go just in case the previous teams did go themselves.

            Renault, Sauber and Mercedes can’t afford to lose WCC points and so they will go.

            Mclaren will go because they are owned by them

            Ferrari need points for the WCC and WDC.

            RBR might need to go if Crash Kid and the Aussie can’t get a big enough lead by then.

      5. I can’t believe that HRT would want to win their first race under those circumstances! That would be unforgivable.

    3. It appears that a ‘Day of Rage’ as been planned for the Bahrain GP.

        1. They are peaceful protesters aren’t they? So why should F1 worry?

          In fact it’s a good platform for these protesters to voice their anger.

          1. It’s not the protestors i’d be worried about it’s when the police respond with tier gas and machine guns and don’t care exactly who they are shooting at untill after everyones dead

            1. Although saying that a day of “rage” doesn’t sound to peacefull :P

            2. If they do there will be a stack of F1 press in the country that would probably not be allowed in otherwise.

              F1 won’t go without its press corps. So, F1 might be the only way the press would be able to get real coverage of what is going on in Bahrain.

        2. This is what I mean.. A day of “rage” sounds very peaceful :) By the way, the first day of protests on Feb. 14th was called the ‘day of rage’ too.. So this whole things started with their rage, death chants, etc.. but of course they were peaceful.. At then they didn’t turn violent, it was just the verbal assaults..

          FOTA should send representatives as well if they don’t trust the FIA.. The opposition agreed to dialogue and support the GP. If they stand true to their word and really mean what they say then we should be fine as the protesters follow what the opposition tell them to do blindly.

    4. I think that in a place where there are so many ‘if’ what’s the point of going there?

      1. will broadcasters like the BBC feel safe to go either?

        1. The BBC have war correspondents on their staff. I think its a bit insulting to them to suggest that the BBC won’t go anywhere that isn’t safe.

      2. Absolutely correct wasiF1.

        Personally, I don’t like to politicise anything, I would like them to just get on with it and race. F1 has survived enough scandals and i’m positive this will blow over like everything else. Maybe I don’t care enough.

        However, what I don’t appreciate is all the uncertainty. It’s taken us this long to get a confirmation either way and we don’t even know what’s happening with India. That’s the frustrating part for me.

      3. Wonderful comment. The safety should not even be slightly in doubt if F1 wants to race there.

        1. Absolutely safety is important of some 1000 people who will travel from different part of the world to watch F1.

    5. The whole thing is quite unfair to many:
      – to FOTA: FIA and FOM are passing the moral hot potato to FOTA
      – to the spectators: All who plan to travel to races – teams and spectators cannot make and/or have to change their plans
      – to Brasil: it gets robbed of a finale
      – to Bahrain protesters: the world will be seeing a happy, but unreal image of Bahrain

      I’m just wondering to whose benefit is all this. Not many options remain …

      1. You’ve put your finger on it directly, the people who are benefiting here are clearly FOM and the organisers of the Grand Prix. You would have thought the conflict of interest present there could be resolved by some sort of governing body.

        Unfortunatley it appears F1 doesn’t have one after all. FIA has backed down on engines, return to underfloor aero and appears to be taking no responsibility for this, Jean Todt’s getting a definate disapprove from me till he starts acting like a man with any will to influence the sport for the better.

        1. Agreed. Can’t wait for this next vote.

        2. Look at how he “defends” going to Bahrain again here on the BBC.

          Oh my, so the FIA representative

          saw everything is fine and stable with his own eyes

          and put in a report that was the basis for the desicion.
          What about looking at the current news items the morning before that meeting Jean,
          don’t they bring you fresh papers at breakfast?

          1. So you’re saying Jean Todt should ignore the person he sent to Bahrain specifically to do this job and instead read the paper? Why send them at all then?

            1. Good question, as he failed to notice what was going on there.

    6. The thing is teams are now between a rock and a hard place. They have contractual responsibilities to go to Bahrain if the FIA says so. If thy don’t they will be dragged into fines/ penalties for bringing the sport into disrepute etc. It would not help them to start another conflict with the FIA and FOM since they have to negotiate new concord/2013 regulations etc.

      But on the other hand, they have contracts with the staff too – you can’t force people to go somewhere where you can’t guarantee for their security, you can’t force people to cancel their december off-time too. Not to mention the problems with logistics, the reshuffling of next year’s car progress and so on and so on.

      The most important issue however is that F1 will be dragged into this political/ethnic conflict by both sides…They just shouldn’t go there, I hope they won’t!

    7. I think the event could be an opportunity to initiate dialogue between the Bahrainis at power and westerners, to help the people of Bahrain be given some rights. If F1 doesn’t go ahead in Bahrain, then I do not think there will ever be such opportunity ever again, and we(F1 community) will affectively be leaving the people of Bahrain at the mercy of their own destiny and at the will of some dictators.

      1. Disagree, if it goes ahead, it will be a frenzy. The planned “Day of Rage” by the protesters will be on a scale unseen there, as people use The Grand Prix and all it’s cameras to make their feelings known to the world.

        The authorities will then have to go massively over the top to contain the protesters and they won’t be able to hide it.

        I can see it being cancelled the week before when FOM, FIA and Bahrain officials realise they risk having race team or F1 media blood on their hands because they were greedy.

        1. Maybe by then they will have gotten rid of all the leaders of the protests.

    8. If there is to be a ‘Day of Rage’ on the Sunday of the GP weekend, then I can see there being no option other than to call the whole thing off.

      1. Why?

        Everybody seems to be talking about these peaceful protesters who suddenly got shot for no reason at all.

        Are you saying that in fact it was more like a violent mob and that these “protests” should be called riots?

        1. The government has two options if this happens: as they are live in the whole world, leave the protesters protest, or stop the protest brutually and be condemned by the whole world and possibly cause a strike by the drivers and teams.

    9. Keith, I spotted a couple of mistakes:

      the teams it emphatically clear

      Should be a “made” in there presumably.

      controversial affect on the outcome

      Should be “effect”.

      1. Fixed both, thanks.

    10. I think it should be scrapped!!, what if something does happen? the region is unstable and formula 1 should stop thinking of dollar bills and get some sense into them!! it will be intersting to see what Martin Whitmarsh’s decides hes probalbly sqaushed between the teams and the bahrain royal family. would the fans even turn up at the event?

    11. FOTA should boycott on the principle that the race has missed it’s slot, an the calender should be final. They’ll make themselves look dangerously weak otherwise. Frankly the FIA should have put there foot down and it’s sad that they haven’t.

      Whether we should be racing in Bahrain at all is an interesting one, personally I think we shouldn’t, I’d suggest reading this thread in the forum for the arguments from all sides.

      1. I think this demonstrates that the FIA is just a big trough and Jean Todt is the number 1 pig.Sad to think things could be worse than they were under Mosley. Time for FOTA to break away.

        1. I was surprised given past history that Mosley has in fact come out strongly against his old pal Bernie

          1. Link to Mosley’s statement which I think is a pretty good summary of some of the opinions here:


            Never thought I’d agree with Max.

    12. HounslowBusGarage
      6th June 2011, 11:58

      The other reason for getting the dates of the Indian Grand Prix involved is that the 2011 season opener is supposed to be Bahrain. Bernie would not want to close 2010 in Bahrain and then open the new season three months later at the same track.
      The Bahrain Grand Prix is automatically a target for any protestors. There isn’t really a sure fire way of ensuring that protestors don’t get un unless the organisers restrict spectator entry to non-Bahrainees only.
      And what an admission of failure that would be.

    13. FOTA is in a horrible position. This decision appears to have been taken without anyone actually aware of the current situation in Bahrain being present, but legally FOTA is now bound by that decision of ignorance. They can’t refuse Bahrain or India even though there’s going to be huge trouble.

      I’m expecting people to die as a direct result of these decisions, both through Bahraini riots/counter-measures and overwork due to lack of recovery in the 2011/2012 off-season.

      Unless FOTA’s in a position to set up a rival series to F1 in 4 months’ flat (and I don’t think it is), then it has no choice but to comply with bad grace. They can’t refuse to attend, qualify or start the formation lap due to contracts and parking afterwards means that they’re at risk of being told off for staging a political protest!

      1. Not to mention that under the current Concorde agreement, the teams are instantly in breach of contract for even seriously discussing such a rival series, not to mention make preparations.

      2. The teams can only blame themselves if they signed a contract that forces them to race in December.

        1. But it didn’t. It guarantees minimum 12 weeks of rest between seasons (for a 20 race calendar)

    14. FOTA should make up their minds and understand why they are racing at all. To make some point – political, social, whatever?

      It seems that lot of people think (or would like to think) that by holding Grand Prix in country X – all F1 related people, starting from pilots ending with random viewers on TV, supports sountry X political stance, socio ethnic society, human rights, rates of water, price of cherry ice cream.

      There is always a possibility that party Y or party Z in country X will make F1 race look like “collaborationist event degrading human rights) or if not racing – “a brave step against human oppression and harrasment of civil rights (China excluded)”

    15. the race should take place. by not going the F1 fraternity are being used as a political tool, F1 should be apolitical. fly in, race, and then leave. let the bahreinis sort out their problems by themselves.

      anything less is hypocritical. china has some of the worst human rights records and yet i see no protest re staging the race there.

      1. By going the F1 circus is being used as a political tool. The Bahrain government is using us to attempt to show that normality is restored, the race is the perfect propaganda tool to dismiss the wishes of their own people and the way they have treated them.

        China changes nothing, I’m sure you’ll have heared the phrase two wrongs don’t make a right.

        This race is now political and there’s nothing anyone can do about that. So the choice is, will F1 be the tool of an oppresive government, or will F1 refuse to be seen legitimisng despots.

      2. The FIA is going out of their way to have the GP used as a political tool by reshuffling the calender to appease a regime that failed to make it possible to sensibly have a race there at its planned slot on the calender, to help them show their point of view of their country. That’s political.

        Not political would have been to say “sorry, you mist your slot, but we’ll keep your 2012 opening slot open for you if your country has improved enough by then (according to international reports instead of our VIP guest tour investigator) to safely hold the race”.

        1. Exactly.

        2. If I’d noticed thses two comments I wouldn’t have posted my one saying exactly the same thing!

        3. Well said, bosyber.

      3. Indeed kenji. Completely right.

        If anything, it’s actually all these high horse people who keep linking F1 and the Bahraini political situation who are creating a dangerous situation.

        1. @Patickl, thats rubbish and you know it. Read the two posts directly under kenji’s post.

          Sticking your head in the sand is the worse possible solution and bashing everyone else for not doing the same thing is just as bad.

    16. Its an absolute disgrace that the FIA and FOM are prepared to stage the race. Whats been said however is correct, the teams really are in no position to argue, their only way out is to have a VERY united front and spin the negative media attention back towards the FIA and FOM to force their hand.

      1. The ‘people’ of Bahrain are organising a ‘Day of Rage’ for the GP (see twitter). If it gathers enough momentum, there will be no Bahrain GP.

        1. “Day of Rage” from peaceful opposition? And against what – F1?

          1. Against what it represents in the context of an unstable socio-economic situation and a divisive government. Remember the government is the main impetus of the Grand Prix and it’s the event for which the Bahraini government is best known. As a symbol in the minds of the Bahraini public, F1 is as powerful as the Pearl Roundabout but for quite different reasons.

            1. Indeed. There is a fear that the GP will be used as a symbol of oppression towards the people of Bahrain. A symbol that could be used time and again when ever there is unrest in the country.

          2. We had a race in Barcelona a few weeks ago. The race weekend was smack in the middle of a period of mass protests. There were several police actions to clear up blockaded area’s in Barcelona.

            Just after the race there was more violent action:

            What does F1 have to do with any of this?

            1. In Barcelona the race was just an annual sporting event. It was not there to present a facade of everything being alright.

              Sorry to see the police took harsh action of a kind that one frequently sees at mass protests everywhere. Nowhere near as harsh as in Bahrain where people got killed, others got arrested and tortured, put on trial, robbed of their livelihoods, and if you helped the wrong people medically you were immediately targeted for such lamentable treatment.

              (If this particular video is from the day of the Barcelona vs Man United game, in my opinion the authorities could have made more of an effort to clean around the protesters rather than dismantling everything first, so what if it wasn’t totally clean. Or at least they could have communicated better. They missed an opportunity.)

        2. Twitter-organized protests are a myth. When you want to gather against an opressive regime, you don’t want to be noticed by the repression-delivers (again, bad english… sorry…). It’s not a matter of the technologically dumb government vs. the revolutionary connected youth.

    17. Shame on Bernie & Co. for ever putting the option on the table of holding the Bahrain GP later in the season. No one could have blamed F1 in general if the Bahrainis had been told “sorry, you missed your slot this year, let’s evaluate the situation again next season”.

      F1 doesn’t need Bahrain (especially with the US and Russian GPs on the horizon, and a calendar fit to bursting), but going there could seriously hurt the sport (not to mention oppressed Bahrainis).

      Perhaps FOTA should sue the FIA for bringing the sport into disrepute.

      1. The Bahraini’s pay 30 to 40 million for their race. I guess Ecclestone couldn’t just let that go.

        Then there are all the sponsors who are not paying their money. I think it was estimade that that was another 40 million.

        So that’s a total of 70 to 80 million that Ecclestone want’s his hands on.

        Actually a big part of that would be for the teams. So even the teams stand to make millions from this race.

    18. Instead the FIA, running true to form, has postponed the decision and not even settled on a date for the Indian round.

      Have the FIA decided when they’ll finalise the Indian GP date? says December 9/10/11.

      Intereatingly though if you head to the Bahrain GP page on it’s still showing the March dates for its race schedule.

        1. A best possible reason for not seriously planning a new date for India might be that no one seriously believes Bahrain to go ahead in October.

          But leaving it to someone else (the teams?) to do so.

          1. Problem is that you have people cancelling October flights and putting December ones in place, and it’d be a right farce if people were told “yeah, change your bookings back, we’ve changed our mind about the date”.

            To be honest this could have all been avoided had they chosen to put Bahrain as the final race and leave India alone, but I guess the October date was to make things easy in terms of going from Bahrain “up the road” to Abu Dhabi which takes place 2 weeks later.

            1. I was not intending to say I agree with it, just saying what might have been a reason.

              You are perfectly right.

      1. Interesting, usually (as shown by that Bahrain GP page) is very slow and sluggish to react to anything at all.

        1. I know, I mean my posters were updated to the Bahrain thing before was :D

            1. Speaking of the Bahrain Poster’s finished, now I just gotta tweak the other 19 with a little BHR box :/

            2. Yeah, and redo India, when its clear what date it will be.

            3. After the latest reports, maybe rather wait with tweaking those PJ!

    19. FOTA members should propose Bernie that they are willing to do an additional race elsewhere in the world, a place where it’s actually profitable to make the race happen… so that teams can compensate Bernie with another race… keeping sponsors happy & also keeping Bernie happy by letting him have his race fee.

      second option would be giving financial compensation to all affected members who would lose it’s revenue due to their decision to not race there.

      third option would be simply wear a arm band which for supporting peace & wishing both sides well; stay quiet race there if safe & not try to put the political hat on.

    20. I think that it’s been made fairly clear time and again where the majority of people visiting this site think about holding the GP. Given that F1F seems to be steadily gaining in prominence and mainstream recognition, that is already a fairly clear signal of where fans stand (that’s not to ignore opposing views, but it’s pretty clear I think that, however vocal, they are a minority).

      I haven’t really seen this mentioned much, but there is a pretty big can of worms waiting to be opened here: if we accept that it’s wrong for F1 to legitimise and take money from the Bahraini government – how long can we feel ok about the same governemnt’s stake in McLaren? Lots of accusations about double standards have been thrown around lately, especially in relation to the Chinese GP – arguably with good reason – but it seems to me like the absolutely unavoidable conclusion of the logic of boycotting the race is that McLaren are part and parcel of a repressive regime’s array of ‘crown jewels’. I like McLaren, always have, I like both Hamilton and Button. But thinking about all this, I’m going to have trouble wholeheartedly cheering for them for the moment.

      1. I must say, I am curious how Withmarsh is going to handle this, especially as the FOTA chairman.

        1. Yup – nervous times in F1, eh?

        2. Presumably he will handle it as Ron Dennis tells him to handle it.

      2. I have wondered if the people in charge of money deals at McLaren have been very busy indeed to get different sources of money. We can say that McLaren took the money before the Bahrain situation escalated, and with them being part owned, it is quite hard to quickly change that, so some amount of leniency can be given. But yes, it’s a bit of an issue for them, I gather, and certainly makes Whitmarsh be in a somewhat tricky position.

        1. While the violent reaction to peaceful protest in Bahrain is abhorrent we have to remember that generally the Gulf states have been seen as the civilised face of absolute monarchy , with a great deal of benevolence allowing a population explosion leading to the current discontent.

          1. with a great deal of benevolence allowing a population explosion

            How does that follow?

            1. They are not feeding themselves by subsistence farming, they are being supported by the govt. or are working in the economy, that’s how they support their large families.

          2. Hm, not sure I saw them like that. What for the repeated issues with “slave” workers in construction and household personell, not to mention the general level of freedom and womens rights and all that were available for years now.

            1. Not defending their employment practices or their womens rights, just stating that their homeborn citizens get a lot of handouts and poverty is relative.

    21. Today, UK Minister of Sport, Hugh Robertson, said:

      “You cannot have a situation where politics overtakes sport,” he told the Telegraph. “If that happens, you have a disaster on your hands.”

      “You can understand why opposition groups might want the race to go ahead if they are planning protests around it and this is a danger.”

    22. i cant put myself in their situation and allow the race to go ahead. the possibility of action by a revolutionary faction wanting to gain some headlines would just be too great for me, and something like that happening would hang over the sport for decades.

    23. Bernie and the FIA have acted appallingly in the last few days. They had plenty of valid non-political excuses to skip the Bahrain GP this season but they didn’t take them. By passing the buck, they have dragged their image to the dirt. They’re acting like a corrupt regime, not caring about what they do because nobody can stop them. It’s up to the teams to make sure they’re not dragged down too, and to show Bernie and the FIA that they can’t get away with such tactics.

    24. I think its really a tough subject for the FOTA and the teams.

      Certainly I would hope the FOTA will be able to speak up, possibly doing so in contention with the GPDA.

      In reality, FOTA opposition to the FIA and FOM will probably focus more on not being able to go along with this late change to the calendar for a. safety reasons and b. making the season go until December and c. having already made provisions for the Indian race in October.

      To me these are just secondary issues, i would welcome the FOTA to oppose the fact that this is the sport being used by the Bahrain government for political reasons and sees F1 supporting wide spread oppression.
      Such a reaction could be based on sentiments inside the teams (Webber, Parr and others), from the sponsors and listening to the fans.
      But I can understand, and maybe even apploud FOTA for sticking to the pragmatic reasons at least openly, if this helps the cause.

      1. They’ll probably have to stick to pragmatic reasons. That’s okay. Money talks in F1 and you don’t want to ruffle too many feathers regardless of the issue at stake, up to a point.

        I’m going to be completely selfish and say FOTA must take a stand because I don’t want to go to Delhi in December :D

    25. I suggest something different…

      – all teams race with their reserve drivers and the real f1 drivers manage the pit wall!!!

      – team boss’ and engineer race and f1 drivers change tyres!!

      This way it is a joke and really boycotted by the teams, but they still race and get the cash, so what can bernie do?

    26. Bernie and Jean certainly have put FOTA on the spot!

      I think FOTA will also delay a definitive response / decision. With Domenicali having voted for, and McLaren being partly owned by the government of Bahrain, they won’t threaten with a boycot or something like that. Maybe they’ll use the fan meetings as leverage?

      The only sensible approach for them for now is to wait and see. See what comes out of the fan-meetings and especially wait and see if the threads for a Day of Rage continue. If so, then the easy way out will be insurance. I cannnot imagine that F1 in Bahrain in its current state is insurable.

      1. I agree it would be hard for McL because of their shareholders. But…

        Here is a list of the people of the WMSC

        It’s the president/vice-presidents of FIA, head of country motorport federation and the president of the FIA Manufacturers’ Commission. The last could be substituted by a Ferrari SpA Representative, but we don’t know whether this was the case last week. Can anyone confirm if the last member was François CORNELIS or Domenicali?

        So please don’t put any blame on Ferrari just yet, what should we say about Mallya of Force India being there and voting for?

        1. I read suggestions (Adam Cooper perhaps?) that although the vote was unanimous, possibly some members abstained from the vote, so maybe neither Domenicali (or other Ferrar representative), nor Mallya voted for, but they also didn’t vote against.

          1. Alan Benson, Reuters.

            Actually no Ferrari representative was there. It was someone from the “FIA manufacturers council”.

            1. Oh, right, thanks. Hm, so was that a FIAT/Mercedes/Renault guy (or Toyota, and they don’t like F1 anymore :-p), guess we won’t know.

            2. here is a link to Wiki about the WMSC, listing who is in it.

            3. @BasCB — I think the list of WMSC members on the wiki page is out of date. The PDF on the FIA site lists the current President of the International Karting Federation (CIK), Shaikh Abdulla bin Isa AL KHALIFA, as the representative, not Nicolas Deschaux. He’s the second son of the present King of Bahrain. Allowing him to vote shows a complete disregard for the accepted rules of corporate governance. Todt is implicit in this travesty.

          2. It is generally accepted as incorrect to describe a vote as “unanimous” if there is one or more abstentions. On this basis both Mallya and Khalifa voted in favour of reinstatement.

            Odd that Mallya supported the change in date for the Indian GP and absolutely wrong that Khalifa did not recurse himself from the vote.

    27. I think one thing to look at in the decision is how far behind schedule is India?

      Given what happened with the Commonwealth games India cannot afford the screw up and at the same time F1 does not want to screw up in India. It does after all contain more than 20% of the worlds population. Such at sake from respects of Indias image as a host of major sporting events that it may have even been supportive of the Bahrain GP.

      Then of course there is Vijay Mallaya. This is a man who purchased an F1 team with the intent of bringing F1 to India, and wants to be seen also as the man who bought F1 to India. He also has the most to gain from the success of F1 in India.

      He also sits on the WMSC…

    28. It’s simple: sport is not and should never be a political tool. It should not be used by Bahrain to promote the country and the government’s practices – but nor should it be used by the motorsport community to “take a stand” against Bahrain. The race should go ahead if and only if the country is in a state where the safety of teams and drivers can be guaranteed.

      1. +1 agree!!

      2. But of course, that’s unrealistic. Big sports events have been used for a long time to promote countries and policies. A relatively recent example is the Olympic games in China, used by China to show what they could do (as all countries do, even Greece), but also by other governments who hoped it would force China towards a better attitude on human rights.

        Having the Olympics at all is purely a politic statement that humans can compete without being violent! Same goes for international football (sorry Keith) championships.

        Certainly the Bahrain GP was political from its inception.

      3. But since there is no way both can be avoided, the logical conclusion is to cancel the Bahrain Grand Prix. I like your thinking.

        1. Yeah, that last line makes it right.

      4. Completely agree.

        Besides if we believe the nay-sayers, the protesters are “peaceful”, so why wouldn’t F1 be safe?

        1. Well, you either agree with us “naysayers”, in which case you accept that peaceful protestors were attacked by government agents in such a way that the country was deemed unsafe for F1, and if they did again around the race could create safety issues; or you don’t believe us, in which case there are potentially violent anti-government protestors waiting for the race to happen so they can do something dangerous, again threatening the safety of F1 personnel.

          Either way, I wouldn’t be racing to get there early if I worked for an F1 team.

    29. Why does no one accuses Indian GP organizers for support of oppression in Bahrain – seems that they moved they GP to December without any sound at all.

      Wheres the hypocrite white knights?

      1. Sherlock, maybe we just haven’t gotten to it, we don’t have all the information and India might have a lot of reasons (not being ready for one, money pressure from Bernei) to not protest too much.

        Are saying that if we don’t denounce the world for being unfair, we can’t disagree with anything that the powers that be in a certain sport that we tend to follow here decided? Their decision is still wrong, regardless of what others do or do not do wrong.

        1. “Are you saying” sorry.

          1. I’m just pointing out selective application of principles. Thats all.

            GP in Bahrain – serious support to oppressive government
            GP in China – held smoothly no one even blinks

            FIA says that Bahrain GP will be rescheduled – FIA is a incarnation of devil as they accept such a move and are fed by oppressive sheiks of Bahrain
            Indian GP doesn’t say anything on reschedulement – we simply don’t know all the facts (as opposed to any other current F1-related stuff where we know all facts crystal clear)


        2. I do think the Indian GP organisers put out a statement telling how good they were prepared some time ago.

          In it they informed that the event will be supported by Marshalls from Bahrain, I think over a hundred of them.
          Apart from the simple fact, that India might be a bit less prepared than they admit, certainly being reliant on Bahraini Marshalls will do nothing to make them strongly oppose its reinstatement.

    30. FOTA could turn this back onto Bernie by offering the compromise of agreeing to support the running of the Bahraini Grand Prix, provided it’s staged at a neutral (and presumed safe) venue – outside Bahrain. There’s plenty of precedent for a national GP being held outside of that country (e.g. Luxembourg, San Marino), and it’s difficult to see why anyone outside of the Bahraini organisers could object on moral grounds. That just leaves the little matter of the practicalities to overcome.

    31. Good summary Keith. I’ve e-mailed FOTA as follows:
      I wanted to add my voice to the chorus of right-thinking people who believe it would be wrong for the F1 championship to visit Bahrain this year. It would reflect well on FOTA to resist pressure from the FIA and the small number of vested interests who are insisting that the race must happen. All acts and all failures to act/react are political, and tacit support of a regime currently engaged in the violent oppression of its
      people would be a political act of the worst sort that a sporting body can indulge in. Besides this, two grand prix – Brazil and India – are to be disadvantaged for the benefit of one grand prix, the loss of which can be
      accommommodated with no disruption additional to that which has already taken place. Not only are the Brazilian and Indian GPs harmed, but so are people planning to attend the latter, whereas the people who had intended
      to attend Bahrain in March have already been compensated.

      I trust that you will retain the fans’ respect by standing behind your drivers and saying to the FIA, “we will not race at Bahrain in 2011”.
      Not as eloquent as some but maybe if we all do it, FOTA will be encouraged to stand up for themselves, for the Brazilian and Indian fans, and for what appears to be the majority of popular opinion.

      1. FOTA will act in their interests first, last and always.

        1. no doubt, but they may be open to the idea that alienating the fans is not in their interest

          1. +1 exactly.

    32. It’s not like we’re talking about hosting the Bahrain Grand Prix tomorrow. The race is scheduled for the end of October. It’s now the start of June. That means there is still the better part of five months – one hundred and thirty-six days – between now and the race, in which anything can happen. The Tunisian revolution took less than a month to depose Zine el Abidine ben Ali. The revolution in Egypt took just seventeen days from the start of the protests to the outsing of Honsi Mubarak.

      The WMSC’s decision to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix is not absolute. If the situation deteriorates, it can be re-cancelled. Likewise, if the situation improves, just about anything could happen. Protestors have allegedly marked October 30 as a new Day of Anger, but since they can’t exactly rest on their laurels for the next five months without losing momentum, it could well be that if some kind of truce is reached and terms agreed to, the Grand Prix could be run as a symbol of a new Bahrain.

      One hundred and thirty-six days. Anything can happen. It was January 21st one hundred and thirty-six days ago; sicne then, a tsunami has hit Japan, Osama bin Laden was killed, Barack Obama made Donald Trump look like a fool, Prince William and Kate Middleton were married, Ratko Mladic was caught, film composer John Barry passed away, Libya finally lost patience with Muammar Qaddafi and a predicted apocalypse didn’t happen. If I told you on january 21st this year that all of that – and more – would happen within the next one hundred and thirty-six days, would you believe me? Of course not. So why is everyone assuming that everything will stay the same between now and October 30th?

      1. You are right that it might not be certain the race takes place. That doesn’t make it a better decision.

        In fact, from the FIA standpoint, I think that makes their decision even worse: a lot of disruption of the calender, quite possibly for no gain at all, creating uncertainty for the competitors, fans, broadcasters, and race organisers.

        In this respect, Keith certainly puts it right mentioning the disappointingly familiar FIA lack of clarity. Exactly the wrong thing for them to do.

      2. Yes, a lot of things can happen. Making me wonder even more, how the FIA can be sure enough about safety.

        Certainly knowing the event will be on people there are going to anticipate this and plan things nicely up front. Including possible demonstrations, disruptions, or even some crazy terrorist actions.

        1. not let it be the tool of these despots

          Better to reinstate the race and cancel it again later if things get out of hand than to reject the reinstatement only to realise later on that the situation improves and the race could have gone ahead.

          1. I don’t agree. I think it would have been much better to play it safe and determine in the winter whether the 2012 GP can go ahead. Also,
            1. I see no good reason for the GP to go ahead.
            2. Cancellations are not without cost, especially as it involves the Indian GP as well. Exactly how many hotel reservations and flight tickets are F1 fans expected to flush down the toilet?

      3. Yes a lot can happen between now and then, maybe the protest leaders will disappear or emigrate to Jordan, or maybe Al Quaeda will move in and arrange suicide bombers to attend the race.

        1. Al Quaeda will move in and arrange suicide bombers to attend the race.

          Al’Qaeda won’t do that because their ideologies do not line up with those of the protesters. They don’t fight for liberation and democracy and the safety of puppies – they want a hardline fundamentalist Islamic state.

          1. And how do you start a “hardline fundamentalist Islamic state”? Maybe by toppling the regime that’s currently in power?

            That’s precisely how many of these previously liberated countries (Iran, Libiya, Syria etc) got their repressive regimes in the first place.

            1. But they would not really fit with the Shia majority protesting. Quite the opposite actually, as the fundamental Islam of Al’Qaeda does clash with a lot that is core to the Shia views of Islam

            2. And how do you start a “hardline fundamentalist Islamic state”? Maybe by toppling the regime that’s currently in power?

              The problem is that the protesters and al’Qaeda want different things. I anything, a’Qaeda would be supporting the Bahrain government.

          2. Rule number 1 in the revolutionaries handbook, create chaos and destroy the governments ability to govern.

    33. In a wonderful bit of dictatorial media twisting news Bahrain’s Justice Ministry will try in a military court 47 medical professionals for alleged deadly assault and refusal to help persons in need during the months of unrest in the kingdom.
      In fact the 24 doctors and 23 nurses are on trial for aiding injured participants of the riots. When demonstrators show up to protest the F1 race in November they must understand that there will be no medical aid provided when they are injured by the Saudi troops imported for the purpose to suppress their protests.
      Will the medical staffs that are there to serve the participants of the race be forced by ethical concerns and their Hippocratic Oath to provide their services? I think some the people from the teams who have first hand experience viewing the conditions in the less well off countries F1 visits see the truth of their position and relevance of their sport as entertainment.
      Honestly I think this is a ploy by the FIA and the Bahrain government to make FOTA responsible for lose of money that will not flow into their coffers when the teams inevitably refuse to race. As to the naive it just a motor race comments I encourage you read a little bit more about the news in Bahrain than the motor news sites. There are actual people with actual lives living in that country.
      All a bit too twisted for me so that we can watch a motor race.

      1. Further I find it hard to believe that the world wide exposure this story is receiving and will continue to receive as the now proposed event nears, certain people will find it hard to personally not stand upon their principles and refuse to go to Bahrain. If for instance Weber or another driver, mechanic or supporting staff refuses to participate in the race will they be sanction by their employer? Will the number two’s in the team system be forced to fill the voids? Yes with six more months before the new start time those who waffle will be held in the headlights for their lack of decisiveness. This story is unlikely to go away as the story of the people of Bahrain continues to unfold in the world media.

      2. Well these doctors apparently refused to treat wounded Pakistani’s and Sunni’s. I’d say that’s a clear violation of the Hippocratic Oath.

        1. Those are indeed one of the accusations made by the Government. This may provide a less biased look at the charges.

        2. Exaclt, apparently.

          The only indications that is close to being true come from the Bahrain government. Evidence rather points a different direction.

    34. The most obvious fault line is president Martin Whitmarsh’s connection to the Bahraini royal family, who are part owners of McLaren.

      Oh. My. God!

      I believe the Bahrain GP should be postponed until the physical wellbeing of the individual is not put in jeopardy by the expression an opinion contrary to government policy.

      1. Your GOD, their GOD therein lies the problem.

        1. Not at all hohum. That is just nonsense.

          1. So you don’t think the fact that the rulers and their supporters are Sunni and the protesters are Shia has a bearing?

            1. Not particularly, since a majority of the population is Shia. If a Shia minority was being persecuted I might agree with you. This is more class-based than sectarian strife.

              Although the fact that the ruling family is Sunni gives it a sectarian angle, it is not the primary basis.

            2. I mean, if a Shia minority was protesting a Sunni majority then you could call it sectarian. Sorry if there was any confusion

            3. Yes, that has a bearing, it certainly is an important part of the bacground.

              But the simple fact that both have the same God (Allah) makes your post nonsensical.

    35. Seeing the news item about the new medium tyres for Canada testing, I recalled something else. When were those young driver testing days supposed to be? Hope that doesn’t clash with now with race, guess it is good the teams have a sea of time during all those winter months to take care of such things, and who cars about planning anyway.

      1. When were those young driver testing days supposed to be?

        After Abu Dhabi. Before India.

        1. And before Brazil as well

          1. Right. Before Brazil. I was too used to seeing Abu Dhabi after Brazil.

    36. We go to China and because we can’t see its violence and oppression, we ignore it. We pretend that it doesn’t happen. But it’s always guaranteed ‘safe’ to race there.

      But I can also guarantee that more innocent people have died at the hands of that government since the Chinese GP took place, than will ever die at the hands of any Bahrain government.

      So FOTA have a difficult decision to make on so many levels.

      1. Just before the Olympic games there were some terrorist threats in China. But indeed their massive police/military deployments in case of unrest usually ensures that:
        A) No news gets out about the unrest
        B) It’s reasonably safe for tourists

        I think only India has a negative travel advice at the moment. Although Malaysia also has it’s threat of terrorism and kidnapping in certain areas.

      2. That’s not a hard guarantee to make when the Chinese population is approximately 1000 times larger.

        If you are talking percentages, then I would dispute that too. Of course, it entirely unprovable either way, so in the end numbers are a moot point. The locality in both time and space is the issue here for most people against the GP being re-instated. We’re not racing five months after Tiananmen Square.

    37. I imagine Bahrain has promised that they will pacify the population in 136 days, and the coming race has now given the goverment the impetus to do so by any necessary means. It will be done outside of the public view, and it will be terrible. Unfortunately, given that the country is small, western media have forgotten about it, the U.S./UK goverments are looking the other way, and Saudi troops are at the ready, Bahrain is in a good position to lock down the country totally by then.

      I think this is what Bernie is counting on. Bernis is doing to the country what was done to him by muggers on a London street. Unfortnately they are not in a position to laugh it off and to collect insurance claims.

    38. If the season was intended to end in Brazil where would the young drivers’ test take place? And with India set to occupy a new date further in December, will they even take place?

    39. I’m wondering whether there might some truth in James Allen’s hypothesis that the FIA really has no intention that there will be a race in Bahrain.

      They are confident that the race will ultimately be cancelled for one reason or another, but they want to keep the Bahrain royal family on-side, so they don’t want to be seen to be making the decision.

      1. They could have simply said that there was no room to move the race.

        It’s not really FIA’s call anyway. Ecclestone was scrambling to get the race back on the calendar from the moment it got cancelled. I seriously doubt he’s just putting on a show.

    40. The FIA again shows its commitment to a “green” F1.
      MONEY green!

    41. The reaction of many to the feeling that F1 is becoming too politicized is telling. The question must be who is doing the politicizing. FOTA, the FIA, the fans? Well no I do believe it is the government of Bahrain who want us to believe that all is well in the Kingdom. The sport is be hijacked by the ruling class of Bahrain to show the world they are respectful of the citizens of the country. I await Bernie to deplane waving a piece of paper declaring peace in our time. Lol
      With no disrespect for the problems of the citizens of Bahrain this should stop. I for one am tired of being used through my association with being a fan of motor racing being constantly dragged into this debate because of the desire of those who are only interest in the race from a totally monetary nature. Regardless of the final outcome of this foolishness the sponsors that will have their names splashed across all the media sites will know by now that most fans look on this decision with contempt.

    42. Not to worry! Mr Todt has it all under control.

      1. From Autosport:

        “Our special envoy had meetings with the human rights people responsible in Bahrain,” said Todt. “He met many people before the report was submitted and unanimously agreed.”

        Todt conveniently forgets to mention that the ‘human rights people responsible in Bahrain’ that he met are appointed by the King, Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa.

    43. It also irks me somewhat to realise that out of the 4,000 or so people involved in F1 teams, only one man (Mark Webber) has publicly come out and shown his support for the people of Bahrain.

      Others have either moaned about how unsafe it might be for the drivers (Barrichello) or have moaned about the last GP now being very late in the season (Ross Brawn). I think I know which side their bread is buttered on!

      1. Yes, I guess Mark is not planning a move to McLaren

    44. On the “F1 shouldn’t be political issue”:

      It would seem to me that not racing on the grounds of having missed their deadline and the potential of screwing up the calendar, plus the negative effects that has on next year’s calendar (i.e. it would be too soon) would be less political than racing there after squeezing them in, so anyone who says F1 shouldn’t be political should really be wanting this race to not go ahead.

      1. I agree, they appear to be moving heaven and earth to fit Bahrain in.

    45. mark webber is paid to drive.
      if he wants to talk politics…F1 is not the place…and mowsly? the former F1 BOSS should stop trying to influence F1 from outside.he should retire in piece.
      in his time FI was run like a personal kingdom whereby perceived enemies were punished with high fines like the mclaren team during the spygate saga.

      1. Mark Webber has freedom of speech. Nice innit.

        Max Mosley could have dumped McLaren out of the championship. They got off lightly, very lightly.

        1. webber raced in china..there is no freedom of speech..and Ai weiwei is in body knows exactly where he is..and last years chinese nobel peace prize winner is still locked up by chinese authorities and his family prevented from even collecting the prize on his behalf.
          webber did not complain.he should keep off and drive where his employer takes him period.

    46. Well I’ll be very interested to hear FOTA’s response considering Domenicali and Mallya both voted to re-instate the race

      1. Notice how evasive Todt’s eyes are when he talks. He does not believe a word he is saying.

        Interesting that this seems the first confirmation that Stefano Domenicali was there representing the manufacturers and voted in favour of Bahrain’s reinstatement. Perhaps time to drop a line to Luca to tell him I’m now thinking of selling my Ferrari.

        BTW, is the interviewer Ted Kravitz?

        1. Notice how evasive Todt’s eyes are when he talks. He does not believe a word he is saying.

          When I’m standing at the front of my classroom teaching a group of year nine students about Romeo and Juliet, my eyes could reasonably described as “everywhere”. Does this mean that I do not believe what I am saying? or does it simply mean that I’m addressing thirty students at once, and thus cannot fix my gaze on just one person?

          I think you’ve been watching too many episodes of “Lie to Me”. Tim Roth might be filled with British swagger, but it’s little more than pop psychology.

        2. He might have just been looking at the camera or his assistant or something.

    47. Brother naivety rules. From their safe comfy sofa the please don’t bother me with this crap crowd warbling on as if Bahrain is a football field where the needs of fans must be met at all cost. Life outside the stadium is in turmoil for those living there. There will be protest because the world will be watching, people will suffer during these protest. The people suffering are trying to achieve the same freedoms you enjoy. The only solution will be free democratic elections and the relinquishment of power by the present rulers to satisfy the needs of democracy.
      When you speak of the country of Bahrain and compare it with China remember that the Island is the same size as the island of Montreal where the next F1 race will be held. If the city and inhabitants of Montreal where in revolt would the world see the situation a bit differently. Would not Montrealers use the world wide viewed event to bring attention to there cause. The government of Canada spent a billion dollars for security at last years G8 summit to prevent Canadians from disrupting the meeting in Toronto and it appears illegally jailed thousands of demonstrators. What do you think the Bahrain government is willing to do to prevent there citizens from attaining democracy.

    48. Hi Keith,

      I think the next poll on Jean Todt’s approval rating is overdue now…

        1. “scheduled for two weeks’ time”! Can’t you follow the lead of the FIA and massage the schedule so that we have it earlier?

      1. Now if Ari Vatanen were FIA president, I somehow think he would have given more credit to the human rights watchdogs about the situation in Bahrein than to one Carlos Gracia hosted by the reigning royal family.

        1. yup, i think you are right there. I was so disappointed when he lost.

      2. I think the next poll on Jean Todt’s approval rating is overdue now…

        The results of which can already be discarded because people will only be thinking of Bahrain. Which is not the only thing that has happened of late – there is, for example, his handling of the off-throttle blown diffuser saga, the stewards handing out penalties to Lewis Hamilton (which he completely deserved), the calls for red-flag rule procedures to be changed, the introduction of the “extra hard”-spec Pirelli tyres and half a dozen other factors that will promptly be ignored by people looking to make a political statement simply because the WMSC voted to return to Bahrain – a decision that was Todt’s sole responsibility – to which Todt has responded by saying the FIA will monitor the situation closely because, let’s face it, anything can happen in the next five months.

        1. I am sure Keith will cover all recent developments in the article like he always does. And even if after that everyone votes on the basis of the Bahrain decision alone, so be it. That’s public life…

          I for one feel Todt has behaved like a complete opposite of Mosley, a tad too much… I can not see a stamp of his personality on any of the recent decisions.

    49. If there are any victims of violence lets hope it Bernie and Todt. That would make the race worth having….

    50. Well, this is interesting. According to The Times, Ecclestone has been in talks with FOTA and, incredibly, is asking for a new vote. (requires a subscription)

      He is disputing the FIA’s report that there are no problems in Bahrain, as Todt restated in his interview with the BBC.

      He is suggesting putting the Indian GP back to its original date of Oct 30 and putting Bahrain provisionally for Dec 4, going only if it is “safe and well”.

      1. Thats just Bernie reading the wind and providing a sop to public opinion whilst still giving his Royal friend a race.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    52. congealedmeat
      7th June 2011, 3:37

      All the political reasons aside, there is only one really good reason for not having this race.

      The track just isn’t an entertaining place to watch an F1 race.

      1. The track just isn’t an entertaining place to watch an F1 race.
        Yes, let’s use the situation in Bahrain as an excuse to abandon the Grand Prix entirely. We’ll respond to the protests and the violence simply because it suits our agenda.

        We have a word for that: exploitation.

    53. It is difficult to separate political and economic considerations when such a high profile event like a Formula 1 race is at stake. FOTA should be entitled to a stronger voice among the decision makers in Formula 1 if the FIA hopes to keep Formula 1 the unrivaled, upper echelon in motor sports. After all, the teams and manufacturers are next in line to the fans/venues as being vital to the longevity of the sport. If a fracture develops among the FIA and FOTA then the rumors of a competing breakaway championship might start gaining traction!

    54. Slackbladder
      7th June 2011, 5:26


    55. for scribe,

      everyone has an opinion and they are free to express it, except in china as this will earn you a 10year term in prison…if you’re lucky.

      my original point is this, prior to the tunisian uprising bahrein held a round of F1. no problems. then there is an uprising that has zip to do with the race per se. the race this year was cancelled due to safety and security reasons. the government of bahrein has now deemed it safe enough to hold the race. F1 has decided to hold the race, as it should if the safety is secure.

      what is your problem F1 is about racing cars, not being drawn into becoming a political tool which you and your supporters are now doing. it is true that no one raises a finger re china…why? their cruelty and inhumane activities towards their own people is well hidden, most of the time.

      all this ‘conspicuous compassion’ is more ‘look at me’ than a realistic and pragmatic viewpoint in the clear light of reason. by taking this very safe option of posting your perceived humanism is all rather soft. F1 should proceed with caution, hold the race if it is safe to do so, then leave and let the bahreinis sort there own problems out.

    56. If these people really feel this strongly about human rights then they are going to have to pull out of other races as well as Bahrain – including China and Turkey. The feelings being aired by some of the teams and drivers is nothing more than hypocrisy.

      F1 drivers should stick to racing and leave the politics to the politicians.

      1. But you aren’t bothered by F1 being used as a political tool by the ruling family?

        1. “Political tool”? How?

    57. i would like to say that holding the race, as intended, has nothing to do with politics. the reason that it has been rescheduled is one of safety.

      not holding the race is what is political. next thing all the ‘compassionistas’ will be holding candlelit vigils and tying yellow ribbons around mythical trees!!!

      this is F1….racing cars around circuits.

      1. Agreed.

        Mark Webber needs to get off his soapbox and concerntrate of trying to catch up a certain 20-something German!

        1. His team need to get their act together,Mark is doing his job very well.

    58. Sundar Shankar
      7th June 2011, 13:59

      I think a provisional reinstatement makes sense, because the situation could be radically different by the end of October. But I find it difficult to see the race actually taking place, there are too many negative consequences. The logistical nightmare and stretching the season to December will be hard on the teams, and give headaches to fans planning to attend the Indian GP. But more importantly, there’s no denying that whichever direction this power struggle in Bahrain goes, all it takes is one lunatic suicide bomber or a disgruntled thug/cop with a gun to make us all regret racing there. I’m not ruling out a similar possibility in another country, just that the chances of that happening in Bahrain are much higher at the moment. Besides, in China and Turkey, neither the government nor the oppressed people have drawn F1 into their fight. In Bahrain, the rulers want to use it to tell the world everything’s fine. The protestors may view F1 personnel as one with the Khalifa family and hit the F1 circus to make their point. Since it is impossible to provide security to the hundreds of ‘normal’ people in the teams, it is a huge risk when the situation could potentially turn volatile quickly.

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