Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, Bahrain, 2012

Bahrain blocks journalists to keep focus on F1

F1 Fanatic round-up

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Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, Bahrain, 2012In the round-up: Bahrain blocks foreign news correspondents from entering the country to report on protests as it continues to use F1 for political purposes.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Journalists refused entry to Bahrain (ESPN)

“The Bahrain authorities have refused entry to a number of journalists in recent days from organisations as diverse as Sky News, CNN, Reuters and the Financial Times.”

Media campaigners attack Bahrain on Grand Prix curbs (Reuters)

Deputy director of the Committee to Protect Journalists Robert Mahoney: “Bahrain wants the international attention brought by hosting a Grand Prix but doesn’t want foreign journalists to wander from the race track where they might see political protests. Bahrain tells the outside world it has nothing to hide. If that’s the case then it must allow journalists entry visas and let them report freely.”

GP adds fuel to Bahrain protests (The Telegraph)

“An estimated 10,000 people swarmed the highway north of the circuit on Friday to protest against the ruling Sunni regime, with rioting expected to break out across the city as it has most nights this week. Every day the protesters become more encouraged by the international attention they are garnering, with news reporters being denied visas as they scrabble to get in on the action.”

Security ramped up in Bahrain as Grand Prix action gets underway (The Independent)

“On a 32-kilometre stretch there were a total of 79, including cars, bikes and one armoured patrol vehicle. On arrival at the entrance to the track everybody involved in F1 had their bags searched, walked through a metal detector and was subjected to a body scanner, all exceptionally rare for the sport.”

Bahrain unrest ‘nothing to do with us’, says F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone (The Guardian)

Bernie Ecclestone: “I think you guys want a story and it is a good story. And if there isn’t a story you make it up as usual. So nothing changes.”

Ecclestone happy to play politics (The Times, subscription required)

“[Ecclestone] stood by the Crown Prince as he annotated a series of reasons ? all political ? why Bahrain should host a race. The Bahrain Grand Prix stopped being about sport a long time ago.”

Bahrain Grand Prix conference 2 (FIA)

“Martin Whitmarsh: I don?t think we?re going to comment on that. We are here to take part in a race. I think we?ve made our position clear. So unless anyone else wants to add anything, I think we are here to race.
Christian Horner: I echo Martin?s comments.”

Formula 1???s business model inherently politicises the sport (Stepreo)

“But the business model of F1 has meant that politicised events are increasingly inevitable. Almost every race in the F1 calendar (the British Grand Prix is a notable exception) receives some form of government backing. Even the new Grands Prix in the USA are receiving state help.”

Monaco announces track changes (Autosport)

“The track surface on the approach to the chicane has been levelled out, after a laser study of the road revealed changes as big as 20cm in the height of the track in the braking area. In addition, the wall that [Sergio] Perez hit has been pushed back a further 14.6 metres.”

Q&A with Susie Wolff, Williams F1 Development Driver (Williams)

“It was very important for me that any Formula One opportunity was a proper one; it couldn?t be a media stunt.”

Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying Betting: Rosberg to keep up the pace? (Unibet)

My latest article for Unibet.

Comment of the day

Steph praises the few in the paddock who’ve had the courage to say something other than the “we’re here to race” PR line:

Hats off to [Nico Hulkenberg] for saying something especially when he?s really still a newbie to the paddock and the politics.

Webber was the first to say something all the way back last year too so kudos to him too. I can?t hold one team more responsible than another as they?re all in the same boat but I so wish Ferrari with all their clout would say something.

From the forum

Site updates

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On this day in F1

Two years ago today I wrote this piece arguing stewarding standards had improved. Following some of the controversial decisions that had passed in recent seasons – particularly 2008 – I still think is a fair assessment.

Even so I expect stewards’ decisions will continue to be a hotly-debated area. There is still room for improvement and rare are sports where referees’ decisions don’t cause considerable debate among fans.

Image ?? Caterham/LAT

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  • 38 comments on “Bahrain blocks journalists to keep focus on F1”

    1. shame about monaco. removing trees to make the pit lane better, putting a load of run off at the chicane…

      1. lol. think they should demolish a couple of buildings and put a 1.2 km straight in somewhere.

      2. The run off is a good thing, that area was very dangerous.

        1. I agree. But ironic we hearing about safety issues re: Monaco today with the teams in Bahrain

      3. I don’t think moving the barrier back was the correct solution. The “peninsula” of barrier now poses a danger to cars driving out of the chicane and accelerating towards Tabac.

        I think a better solution would have been to improve the barrier itself. TecPro has proven to be a space-saving alternative to tyre barriers, but I still firmly believe that in a 90 degree impact like Webber in Valencia and Perez in Monaco, tyres do a much better job. The problem with tyres is that the cars are often buried in them, which can leave a driver’s head vulnerable, but they do absorb much more of the impact.

        In a slower speed impact, TecPro barriers are fine, but something more is needed for such high-speed impacts. The accident in Monaco last year proved as much when Perez’s car wasn’t slowed down at all by the TecPro, and it only went as far as padding a 250km/h side-on collision with an armco barrier.

        So I think a better alternative would be to have the TecPro guarding a thick wall of tyres, so when the driver hits the TecPro, they are buried in the tyres, but they get the full benefit of their superior energy absorbing qualities.

        The only problem I can see arising is TecPro not wishing to work with/have their product used in conjunction with old technology. I hope this isn’t the case, however, because I’ve thought about this for a long time and I’m yet to think of any reasons why it shouldn’t be completely safe.

      4. Good move by Automobile Club de Monaco, removing the height variation of the surface, which should remove the potential for cars bottoming out in the braking zone.

        @damonsmedley your idea seems to make sense. Use the techpro as the first layer, stopping the car from being buried by the tyres, and let the tyres do the impact absorbing. You could maybe even use like a big thick rubber belt on the front face of the tyre barrier, which would stop the car from being buried in the tyres.

        1. The techpro barriers should maybe also be secured by rails to the ground that lets them slide, but prevents them from lifting up. The photo in the Autosport article shows that the techpro barriers lifted up, and Perez’s car slid under, making the tehcpro barriers ineffective.

      5. From a racers aspect: why did they remove the bumps? If your car can’t take driving over them flatout, then you lift. Or you change the setup of the car. Maybe they should remove the harbor chicane completely, so the drivers can’t make mistakes there.

    2. So we got told today (by Mr Prince who thinks UK riots same as theirs) that there was every opportunity for the protesters to be interviewed and have their say. Why would you stop reporters entering the country.

      Maybe they know the life of an F1 reporter is 18 hours a day at the track, but fothers may have a little more time to explore.

    3. Lol Yeah Kick all the journalists outta there. 99.9% are snakes anyway. There just looking for a story and to start more problems as the media and journalist do. if i was the bahrain authorities and or bernie i wouldn’t let them in aswell, why whould i want someone( Who doesnt have a clue about anything in the country) talk rubbish about it?. Once The race is over You lot will not even hear about Bahrain lol..

      1. Why would want you do that? That tactic isn’t exactly helping their already tarnished image. But I suppose it depends how oppressive and sadistic you want to world to view your country’s ruling body as.

      2. @matt2208 I’ll cut myself short of saying I agree but you do make a couple of valid points, most importantly regarding how the situation will be perceived from Monday onwards.

        Bad news sells.

      3. I think you should go to bahrain and join the protests to get an idea of what they are going through. We will certainly hear about bahrain after the race as the world is watching to see how the latest protestor died ax well as the hunger strikers well being.

    4. dysthanasiac (@)
      21st April 2012, 2:31

      Sovereignty is a peculiar thing. Citizens of the US, UK and [insert “Western” country here] would cling to it like a life preserver if the world demanded something they were unwilling to give. Now they forget it when someone else has something they’re unable to take.

      1. What on earth are you talking about. Who is trying to take bahrains sovereignty?

    5. The power of living in an electronic world…

      Anonymous Press Release – Operation Bahrain
      Thursday – April 19, 2012 7:00 PM ET USA
      Anonymous has watched with growing alarm the incredible human rights abuses of the Bahrain regime. We have watched this tyrannical government tear gas it’s own people literally to death, with over 30 fatalities so far. We have watched as thousands of innocent protesters and activists have been jailed. We have suffered with our dear friend @AngryArabiya on Twitter as she watches her father slowly die of a hunger strike in prison to protest the atrocities committed by the regime of this “king” of Bahrain. We have witnessed doctors and nurses imprisoned for simply treating the wounded protesters that your security forces have brutalized. And finally we have suffered in outrage the ignorance and out right lies of mainstream media regarding what is REALLY happening in Bahrain.
      1) This is NOT a Shia uprising against a Sunni government. It is a popular and peaceful revolt against the medieval concept of absolute monarchy. It is a movement that spans all strata and sectors of society, and all religions in Bahrain. It is a movement that demands only freedom, justice – and democracy.
      2) This government is not quelling violent protests, it is brutally and violently crushing peaceful dissent.
      3) This government is NOT legitimate. It is a tyrannical, barbaric – and human rights violating dictatorship. And ANYONE doing business with this regime have the blood of Bahrain’s Freedom Martyrs on their hands.
      For over a year now, we have as a global movement concentrated our efforts in Libya and Syria, leaving Anonymous Bahrain to to defend their fellow citizens in cyber space. This will no longer be the case. As of tomorrow, Friday – April 20, 2012 the entire global Anonymous will begin to take up the cause of the Bahrain Revolution. The King of Bahrain be warned, we are about to unleash the worst ********* you have ever seen – and your time as dictator is over. We will help your people remove you from power, and we will see you tried in the Hague for your many crimes against humanity.
      The occasion of Anonymous re-launching Operation Bahrain will be this despicable Grand Prix Formula One race to be held in Bahrain tomorrow through the 22nd of April. Mr. Eccelstone, you are either one evil ************* to hold your race in support of this regime (The Kings family are actually investors and make direct profit) – or else you have been lied to and are ignorant of the atrocities committed by these tyrants. In either case, beginning tomorrow – and lasting for the duration of your race we are going to ******* educate you on the truth in a way you can not ignore.
      Beginning tomorrow, and lasting for the duration of this race – Anonymous will turn your web site (www.formula1.com) into a smoking crater in cyber space. We will also jam your phone lines, bomb your E-Mail inboxes – and wreck anything else of yours we can find on the internet. You can god damn well expect us. And to anyone in the world who watches this race, either in person or on television – you also have the blood of the Bahrain Freedom Martyrs on your hands. Turn your face away from this abominable entertainment, and join us online to defend the brave protesters fighting for their freedom in Bahrain.
      Finally, we join with Anonymous Bahrain in asking that all the drivers in this race protest this evil regime by refusing to cross the start line at the beginning of the race. Internet Freedom Fighters around the globe, join us this weekend and fight for freedom and justice in Bahrain: irc.voxanon.net #OpBahrain
      We Are Anonymous – We Are Everywhere – We Are Legion – We Never Forget – We Never Forgive – EXPECT US SIGNED — Anonymous

      I have been watching this situation with interest, the website has already been taken down once in the past 24hrs, but is currently operating. Anything is possible for this group, it will be interesting to see what interruptions they may impose on the event and people involved. They obviously dislike Bernie, will he become a target of electronic attacks? Will comm’s for the event be interrupted? I find it interesting that, as people who are offended by a situation ( the protests in Bahrain) , we respond by having our own protests and threatening our own attacks in the form of boycotting tv coverage, electronic attacks and refusal to participate. Yet we have no real knowledge of the situation at hand except the information provided to us by tv, electronic devices and those who are willing to participate ( journalists ). We’re only human.

      1. Yet we have no real knowledge of the situation at hand except the information provided to us by tv, electronic devices and those who are willing to participate ( journalists ).

        With the rather fundamental limitation that the Bahrain government is actively blocking journalists from entering the country, and outside of the lazy cynical takes on this (mainstream media are liars, etc), the only reason for stopping people from looking into your country is that you don’t want people to know what’s going on in the streets.

    6. I can’t get excited about this weekend… Which is a very weird feeling. I just hope everyone gets out ok.

      Bernie is sick to condone it.

      1. I’m curious, is Bernie actually physically there?

        1. For those outside the UK and unable to watch the BBC iplayer

          Crown Prince Paddock Interview

          Bernie Paddock Interview

        2. According to the reports above, yes he is.

        3. He was on the world feed at least in FP1, walking round the Force India garage, not sure if he’ll be there on Saturday/Sunday.

    7. As sure as I am that this was far from Bernie and the Barhaini Royal families intention, I think their insistence that the race happened this year is actually a good thing for the people of Bahrain. Hopefully without people being harmed wether involved with F1 or citizens of Bahrain, the staging of the race has helped to thrust the political situation in Bahrain even further into the public spotlight, with UK politicians and members of the Bahraini elite being forced to comment on the unfolding events. Perhaps Bernies transparent greed and toadying to the rich and powerful might have actually created a situation in which the mass media and sports media are reporting on circumstances that perhaps normally many of us might not be aware of, or concerned with. The situation in Bahrain is far from black and white and indeed there are aspects of it – such as indentured foreign labour which are still not being talked about, but due to this race it is becoming harder for the ruling elite to hide behind an arrogant wall of silence.

      Perhaps Bernie is actually a closet social reformer hellbent on using F1 to shine a spotlight on inequality throughout the globe, Burmese and Syrian GPs for 2015 and Bernie for the Nobel Peace prize?

      1. Well said. Bahrain has been ignored up to a couple of days ago. F1 put it on the map this past 12 month. There would be nowhere near as many people up in arms about it if it wasn’t for F1. It’s all well and good F1 pulling out but it only means that the FIA do the job our governments should be doing. The West is allowing F1 to take the flak, it takes the pressure off them to intervene, yet again.

    8. Spare a thought for the GP2 paddock, who are stuck in the country for another week doing twin Bahrain race weekends. That already didn’t make sense to me from a racing perspective, now its just absurd.

    9. @Matt,
      You appear to be well informed about the Bahraini issue and your perspective is often overlooked in the saturated negative press that inundates the airwaves.

      Why were journalists not going there last month? Now they scent the possibility of blood, accidental or deliberate, they are rushing to cover the macarbre as is their wont.

      1. Of course they are. They love it. They can’t get enough of it.

        That sounds like I’m being sarcastic. I’m not.

      2. Simple. Bahrain was blocking all journalists not connected with specific, non-controversial (in the government’s eyes) events until this week. The ones who are there now are on a special “F1 Visa”, with other journalism types universally blocked until Monday.

    10. From the ESPN article:

      Bahrain’s information ministry said that non-sports journalists who had been denied entry were welcome to come after the grand prix was over and blamed “logistics” for the problems.

      I guess it is no surprise that totalitarian regimes are reluctant to give up their power, but such blatant, and completely unconvincing lies are just ridiculous. How are they expecting this to improve their international image?

      1. @adrianmorse Sounds to me like he’s making a very subtle point. The point being ‘will anyone care after Sunday?’. He knows the country is in turmoil but he also knows that the global media won’t give a hoot after the race and why would they? TV coverage has been non-existant up to a few days ago.

        1. He also knows the level of protests won’t be as high after the GP, so there’s less chance of journalists seeing anything too shocking.

    11. This is such an odd weekend for F1.

      F1 should be an exiting event for any country to hold, it should not be a political platform.

      I watched the BBC interview with Bernie and this is what I made from it:

      – He argues that the worlds media is coming to Bahrain, which could also allow protesters to get their voices heard. This point has come into question from some of the worlds media being blocked from entering the country, as mentioned in this round up article.

      – Bernie also mentions in the interview how F1 has nothing to do with what is going on in the country. It clearly has not caused this uprising…you don’t have to be a genius to spot that. However, F1 is the pride and joy of the Crown Prince, so will be using Bernie as a puppet to build upon his political platform. The FIA should have really taken a firmer stance.

      It’s simple, we should not be racing in a country where a team misses a practice session in order to get home before dark.

    12. Drivers are also banned from smiling this weekend it seems

    13. 20cm?! That’s crazy. The pit-lane alterations sound good too. It sounds silly but I can see why they would do it, based only on my knowledge of recent F1 games.

    14. The drivers more than anyone, due to their high profile, have been put in a difficult situation, Button and Hamilton more than most because of the ownership of McLaren.
      I just hope the podium winners can muster the courage to step away from the ceremony after the anthems and not indulge in any champagne fun and certainly don’t accept trophies from whichever dignitaries are wheeled out.
      A unified show of strength would do a lot for F1’s increasingly tarnished image.

    15. themagicofspeed (@)
      21st April 2012, 11:39

      This is PR suicide for the sport, first and foremost, as it effectively promotes F1 as a sport which cares more about money than it does people (given the treatment of fans in Britain, a lot of people know that already – Ecclestone and co could not care less about anybody unless it means he isnt getting paid, because he is truly a disgusting person) – obviously this is much more serious than not being able to view for free – this is about people dying, ignoring mass oppression, human rights abuses, turning a blind eye to corruption, and wilfully putting in considerable danger everyone who works in F1 who is in Bahrain.

      All of this is so a) The organisers don’t again pay for a race that they wont even be getting (like happened last year), and b) Ecclestone gets his money – he sincerely does not care how many people are suffering, as long as he gets paid.

      Sometimes, this weekend being one of those times, i am so ashamed to have anything to do with this ‘sport’. It has lost any and all credibility, in my personal opinion. The FIA are just as bad, because they as the governing body have the final say wether it happens or not, but are spineless and just do as Eccles-Hitler says.

    16. Having been to Sakhir the last two days I find the reporting of events here over the last couple of days to be wide of the mark in terms of the intensity of any trouble.

      Security at the circuit is tight but not restrictive, we have neither seen or heard any disturbance since we have been here.

      Do I think F1 should have come to Bahrain, the answer is a definite yes, it is most unfortunate however for Politicians both here and in the UK to seek to use F1 for their own political gains.

    17. None of this will matter on Monday. I love the amount of translucent caring ppl show on this website. It makes me not want to visit it any longer.

    Comments are closed.