The Bahrain International circuit

The Bahrain International circuit, Photo courtesy of Allan Donque

We have to admit at F1 Cities we felt fairly certain that the Bahrain Grand Prix would eventually not go ahead in 2012 and that the fact tickets were yet to go on sale was evidence of this; today though (20th of February) about two months before the race weekend tickets have gone on sale.

 

Sakhir Circuit chief executive Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa claims that there is a lot of interest in the event, much of it from corporate clients. In the past atmosphere has beeen lacking at the circuit and so it is important that tickets sales ramp up quickly but it is expected that many from outside of the Arabian peninsula will stay away and even those from Arabia and within Bahrain may decide to go to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix instead.

 

Supporters of the race are claiming that it will unify the nation or that the focus on the country will force the governement to cease any ongoing human rights abuses and that protestors will be able to use the event to raise their cause with little threat of violence against them while thousands of journalists are in the country. The Press Conference where the staging of the Race was confirmed announced that the slogan for the race would be ‘UniF1ed – one nation in celebration’: suggesting that Bahrain is now a happy place where the events of last year are forgotten and the disenchanted have changed their minds. Many though see that Formula One is giving the message that the Bahriani government can do what it likes to its people and no-one cares; it is a year since the ”Day of Rage’ but no-one has been punished or bought to justice for what happened that day, or rather no-one on the government side.

 

Regardless of whether most fans feel that the race going ahead gives the wrong message there is the chance that protests at or near the circuit, quite likely starting at  the university next door, people won’t want to risk getting caught up in it at all even if the risk is low and the Sakhir circuit itself doesn’t really have a history of classic races to attract people in.

 

Meanwhile Bernie Ecclestone has backed the race but crucially the FIA are yet to come out worth a statement, the FIA, not driven by money like the F1 administration, could still be the ones to cancel the race but it is looking less likely now: then of course the race could still be cancelled or disrupted on the race weekend if protests do flare up.