Tensions rise in Bahrain as protest anniversary passes

F1 Fanatic round-up

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Bahrain International Circuit

In the round-up: The Bahrain government take steps to prevent a repeat of last year’s protests.


Bahrain restricts protests on uprising anniversary (BBC)

“There have been many disturbances in predominantly Shia villages on the outskirts of the capital. Police are firing rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades at demonstrators, who are throwing stones. There was very heavy use of tear gas in Sanabis overnight, and a resident of Sitra said the streets outside his house were littered with spent tear-gas canisters.”

Bahrain forces patrol capital on revolt anniversary (Reuters)

“The re-emergence of armoured personnel carriers for the first time since martial law was lifted in June underlined the concerns of the Sunni Muslim-led monarchy about a new explosion of civil unrest by Bahrain’s disgruntled Shi’ite majority.”

What I Learned at the Airport in Bahrain (Huffington Post)

“At this writing, it’s 5pm local time. My flight got in at 2:15am. I have been informed that the director of immigration has decided that I shall not have a visa to enter Bahrain – although in the past it was the practice of the Bahrain authorities to give visas to Americans in the airport pretty much automatically – so the authorities are saying that the only way I am leaving the airport is on a plane out of the country.”

Letters to the editor: Bahrain Grand Prix will help reform (The Times)

“Those who want Bahrain to continue on the path of genuine reform will do the cause no service by cancelling the Grand Prix this year. Indeed, surely the presence of thousands of Western visitors and journalists in the run-up to and during the event will act as an additional incentive to the authorities in Bahrain to show the international community its sincerity in the cause of reform and that their support for Bahrain is well placed?”

Gary Meenaghan via Twitter

“Just received a call from organisers of Bahrain Grand Prix inviting me to an F1 launch event this Sunday in Sakhir. Clearly no plans to cancel race.”

Troubles over the Lauda movie (Joe Saward)

“There is legal action afoot over the upcoming movie about Niki Lauda, with a European consortium claiming that they had agreed a deal with the Austrian to make a film called 33 Days – To Hell and Back.”

Keeping the faith – Q&A with Peter Sauber (F1)

“It definitely has not become easier for the smaller teams. To cut costs in Formula One is a very difficult and thorny issue. The [Resource Restriction Agreement] was a step in the right direction, but now other steps must urgently follow.”

Mateschitz: Webber will get equality (Crash)

“We really have no choice except to defend our two world titles. The only change is that Mark [Webber] has a new chief mechanic.”

Senna: Barcelona to show truer picture (Autosport)

“We were not following the same sort of testing programme as everybody else. I think we are there together with other guys in the midfield but we will only find out for real in Barcelona when people start doing more straightforward test programmes and then we will see.”

‘Renault engines offer fuel advantage’ (GP Update)

“When discussing race advantage, [director of Renault F1 Sport Jean Francois] Caubet explained that Renault-powered cars can line-up on the grid with 15 to 18 litres (approximately 20-24km) less fuel than its rivals.”

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Comment of the day

The thought of a Magnussen in a McLaren has got Supernicebob all nostalgic:

So, a Senna in a Williams-Renault, will we see a Magnussen in a McLaren-Mercedes at a race this year for further mid-nineties nostalgia? Take care of your appendixes Jenson and Lewis!

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to East Londoner, Ives F1, Mouse_Nightshirt, Tim P and Tom!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Asked a year ago today whether the new tyre compounds, DRS and the return of KERS would increase overtaking, Fernando Alonso was sceptical:

“It can be useful to overtake a car that is one or two seconds slower. Maybe the rule’s objective is to favour an overtaking move when a race gets ruined by the impossibility of passing a much slower car, as happened to me with [Vitaly] Petrov in Abu Dhabi. Overtaking between front runners will be difficult in 2011 too.”

As predictions go, that one was up there with me tipping Michael Schumacher to win the world championship in 2010

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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38 comments on “Tensions rise in Bahrain as protest anniversary passes”

  1. All I can say about this renault news is that less power equals less comsuption and its clearly that way for renault because they simply dont have more power to give.

    1. i disagree. merc, ferrari and renault are roughly equivalent on power, so the advantage clearly swings to the one that can make the same amount of power with the least amount of fuel.

    2. Exactly, I’m not buying the arguement that the Renault engine is massively underpowered compared to the Ferarri and Mercedes units. That was just a yarn that RBR started spinning when they weren’t dominating races the way they should have in late 2009 and early 2010.

    3. 15 less is a lot of weight.

      I think that it would easily counter any downside of less horse power because I think the BHP difference would be, not that much.

      1. I think that when comparing engines the maximum power output is interesting, but possibly more important to how Red Bull went about fast laps was the tracktion at lower revs, which helped them with good corner exits (surely helped by being planted on track with their major downforce)

    4. This perhaps offers another reason why the McLarens were seemingly faster (relatively or absolutely) than the Red Bulls later in the races in 2011. At the start the Red Bulls would have had a significant weight advantage for a similar if slightly lower power output. At the end with the same weight and with any minor power advantage the McLaren would have been faster or at least closer.

  2. There there, Keith, no need to feel bad for your Michael Schumacher prediction. Quite a few people thought he might take another world championship, and a large majority thought he would win a race or at least pick up some podiums.

    As for me, my prediction turned out to be very accurate, though I had the advantage of making it after four races had already been completed. My comment on the Guardian, April the 20th, 2010:

    How long does Schumacher have to prove himself again?

    When he started, I saw lots of predictions of at least a podium finish, if not a win, in the first race. When that didn’t happen, people started saying “give him three races”. It’s now been four races, and he’s been out-performed by his team-mate in every single one of them, picking up a measly ten points along the way. So now the focus changes again: “give him until the end of the season”, or “he’ll be excellent next season”. Some comments in this blog are already writing him off as a racer, by highlighting his technical insight. If that’s his main asset, he should be a test & reserve driver!

    Are these comments coming from the same people that were so excited about his return when he announced it? Perhaps, when Schumacher still can’t cut it at the end of 2011 (and that’s my own prediction), they, and he, will finally admit it was a bad decision for him to come out of retirement.

    And I’ll be delighted if he proves me completely wrong.

    1. I clearly remember discussing with my friends (mostly don’t follow motorsport) saying: “if he’s coming back, it’s because he’s getting the best car and I assure you all he’s going to win the championship or at least fight it”.

      1. @fer-no65

        After seeing how Badoer tanked in the Ferrari and thinking how Schumacher wasted his talent on mopeds mostly, I was happy that he wasn’t fighting the Virgins constantly for position.
        However, I had higher expectations for 2011, allthough that was largely due to a strange feeling that they might have actually improved the car.
        The late start in 2012 doesn’t look too good. I still hope Schumacher can make it to the podium this year around. Especially when a USA comeback is around the corner.

        I mean it would be like Rocky VI in so many ways.

    2. @estesark I don’t think you will find Schumacher saying it was a bad decision. I lost count of how many times the BBC commented on how relaxed he was and how accommodating he was now in comparison to his days at Ferrari. The guy rarely didn’t have a smile on his face in the last 2 years and he even had a laugh and a joke with Liuzzi after he parked his Force India on his head in Abu Dhabi 2010.

      Perhaps he did expect to at least finish on the podium, but I see a guy who is very content with what he’s doing and that is vindication enough for me that he does not regret his decision to come back.

      1. The guy is obsessed with F1, when he was younger his obsession lead to obsession for victory that even made him pull those quite unfair moves. He was very unsatisfied with not winning.
        Now after stopping f1 he got so bored that he appreciates even just driving and that’s why his more relaxed. The fact that he already had success also makes him feel less weight since he doesn’t feel he has to prove staff so all in all he can be more relaxed and throw a smile or two even if his not blowing away the competition.

        1. I really like your theory @solo!
          It’s true, Schumacher’s behaviour has changed, like @andrewtanner said, and it’s all for the best in my opinion!

      2. @andrewtanner

        That was the part of my prediction that was wrong – I realise now that he will never admit it was a bad decision. But the main part was the fact that he still won’t be challenging at the front after two years back, and that has turned out to be the case.

        As has been mentioned, Schumi is a lot calmer and more relaxed nowadays. I have warmed to him this season. I never liked him when he was winning all the time, and I was put off him even further when he nearly put Rubens Barrichello into a wall, but now I just think he’s good fun.

  3. Alonso’s prediction wasn’t that far off…

  4. It’s stunning to think that the talent decayed by so much after only three years. I suppose there’s still some hope

    1. There are other factors in Shumi’s apparent decline apart from the passage of time and the 3 year hiatus. Competition has increased. He’s not in a car that’s clearly the best. His team is not solely dedicated to his individual success. Technology has taken a leap forward and regulation has helped even the field.

      But very few sports allow aging competitors to stay at the front, no matter how dominant they once were.

      1. Well, We still don’t know if it has declined.

        Maybe Rosberg is just that good?

        I’d say not but, we can’t really say for sure can we?

        1. I tried to reconstruct from Wikipedia how Rosberg (in his debut season) stacked up against Webber when they were both at Williams (my memories are vague on the subject). I don’t see any evidence that Rosberg outperformed Webber then, so I doubt Rosberg is (now) ‘that good’.

          1. Because people never get better after their first season.

        2. @mike Rosberg is good, but he’s not THAT good. I think @scalextric got it right.

          I also think Schumacher knew that.

          1. I agree, was kinda just posing the idea.

  5. I can’t read the whole article from the times, but, from the caption Keith posted it is hilariously stupid.

    If Bahrain gets the race, there will be a crack down on protesters in the lead up to the event, then the race will go ahead completely fine, and then afterwards it will all go back to how it was. Just like when China had the Olympics. It’s incredible that anyone can think otherwise. People said the same thing about China, has anything changed? Absolutely not at all.

    I’m sorry, but for me, this looks very straight forward. Nothing has changed, the Bahrain Government has said lots of fancy things (read: shameless propaganda) to get the international community on side (And I’m saddened that it’s working).

    APC’s roaming the capital tells you all you need to know. Ask yourself, why do they use an APC? the answer, is intimidation. If they are still using intimidation to prevent protests then… well… unless you support the money grabbing, then I can’t see how you can support it.

    It’s very easy to be dismissive in our armchairs. But imagine if military forces where roaming outside your house. Now imagine if they where hostile to you because of your religion. For me, it’s not a good look for F1 to go. (Especially as they didn’t go last year.)

    1. Things in Syria didn’t improve with Arab League monitors there – is anyone naive enough to think Western journalists will be given unrestricted access to Bahrain to see everything going on? If they are there ‘for the race’ I expect the government to helpfully shuttle them from their hotels to the racetrack along prepared routes which will show how everything is actually like ‘The Land Of Chocolate’…

    2. Yeh, think I’m gonna give that race a miss. It’s nothing special anyway, and the royalty seem to think it’s more precious than their people.

      1. Personally, I don’t think cancelling the race in Bahrain again isn’t going to do the country any good, The Bahrain government simply cannot afford to lose more revenue cancelling their race for a second year running. They need to start thinking about the country’s welfare and by the looks of it, It’s totally unpredictable at the moment. Like @Mike said, probably an identical scenario with the Beijing Olympics will end up happening.

  6. Happy birthday to everyone mentioned! Enjoy it.

  7. “There is legal action afoot over the upcoming movie about Niki Lauda, with a European consortium claiming that they had agreed a deal with the Austrian to make a film called 33 Days – To Hell and Back.”

    Why of why do they wait all this time to launch a legal action? Always happens. They now know Ron Howard and his “movie studio / financiers” have already invested heavily. We knew about the making of this movie ages ago. It’s been motoracing and movie news for a long time.
    Bet Ron is slightly more annoyed than me though.
    IMHO – Feels like a money grabbing opportunity.

    1. You answered your own question.

    2. @chalky Strike when the iron is hot and all that. Sad really. I very much doubt it will have any impact on the film.

  8. So Webber WILL GET equality? So he didn’t had it before?

    1. the red bulls (except Adrian Newey) are always trying to look like idiots.

    2. Haha that’s funny.

      Of course he had equal status. All second drivers get the same treatment! :D

      You’re just silly.

  9. Bernie’s remarks today, downplaying the recent events in Bahrain and claiming that “all the teams” are as happy as larks about going to Bahrain, are revealing, and not in a good way. He might like to think that F1 is “not political” but this attempt at whitewash looks naive at best. It looks for all the world as if some powerful F1 stakeholders in the middle east are pushing hard for the Bahrain race to go ahead, and no one within F1 dare say anything against them – criticizing the Emperor’s New Clothes is a dangerous business.

    I’m amazed that we haven’t heard any grumbles from the big sponsors. Some of them (at least) will be very keen to avoid any contamination if things go bad in the next few weeks. Holding a grand Prix while armed guards patrol the circuit won’t look good for anyone.

  10. Can anyone explain why tickets are on sale for all races up to and including Singapore (September) but not for Bahrain (April)?

    Maybe there’s a perfectly good reason but I’d be a bit dubious if I was intending to go.

  11. It’s not the gay coat that makes the gentleman.

  12. Infected Crayons
    19th February 2012, 22:37

    So embarrassing. Looking at all the comments, I cannot believe that so many educated and informed people don’t even believe in bothering about the state of humans. If we care so little about each other what hope is there for the rest of the species of this planet, our last refuge.

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