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Is there really any chance of the 2013 Bahrain GP being cancelled? - April 18, 2013 by admin
2010 Bahrain Grand Prix - Sunday

Start of the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix , Photo Courtesy of LG EPR

A car bomb set off in Manama’s Financial District on Sunday night, the 13th of April, a week before the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, and with the opposition February 14 movement claiming responsibility, has of course raised security concerns: but is there really a chance of the race being cancelled in 2013? Or perhaps postponed?

The Bahrain Grand Prix won’t be cancelled due to the rights and wrongs of what happened in 2011, and since, where the Bahrain Police and Government have been accused of Human Rights abuses. The Bahrain Grand Prix was cancelled in 2011 but returned in 2012, many believed it shouldn’t have done so and that F1 shouldn’t have been seen to support the Bahrain Government. The arguments against running the race in 2013 though haven’t strengthened since 2012 so on this count there is no reason to believe the race will be cancelled, and certainly not at this late stage.


The potential for disruption to the Grand Prix though, including attacks, has to be considered still, and monitored up to the morning of the race. In 2012 an incident where a vehicle the Force India team’s personnel were traveling between the circuit and their hotel in was attacked with petrol bombs saw the team sit out Friday practice. This followed assurances in the run up to the Grand Prix, from security and police in Bahrain, that no such incidents would occur.


Has this changed in 2013 then? Are security risks higher following this bombing? Presumably the timing of which a week before the Grand Prix isn’t coincidental, or is security tighter this year with more detailed planning in place?


Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t see a problem in going back this year but the teams have to be willing to attend so all will need assurances. Force India though, understandably the team most likely to be concerned about security threats, have come out saying they have no concerns.


Bob Fernley of Force India is quoted by AutoSport as saying “There are bound to be incidents, but ours was just one of those unfortunately things last year and it just got blown out of all proportion,” and so it appears the race will go ahead baring any incidents between now and then.


The worry is of course that protestors and opposition groups such as the February 14 movement will try to scare away the teams, who have now arrived at the Sakhir circuit, before a wheel is turned.

Bahrain Grand Prix looks set to go ahead - February 20, 2012 by admin
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.

High Profile MPs urge dropping of Bahrain GP - February 9, 2012 by admin
The Bahrain International circuit

The Bahrain International circuit, Photo courtesy of Allan Donque

As we have mentioned the Bahrian Grand Prix looks in doubt already, the FIA and Formula One Admisinstration though have kept the official line as ‘There is no reason to doubt that the Bahrain GP will go ahead’, they would be unlikely to say anything else though until the point it is cancelled of course and it is becoming a line that is now looking even less believable.

 

A high profile list of MPs and peers in the UK have called on the FIA to cancel the race, this list includes Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, Lord Alton, Lord Avebury, Baroness Falkner of Margravine, Lord Hylton, Caroline Lucas and Lord Boswell who wrote an open letter to The Times newspaper.

 

They wrote, “The continued political crisis in Bahrain is a troubling source of instability in the Gulf region, and the lack of any move towards political reconciliation concerns those who wish to see Bahrain move in the direction of greater democratic accountability.” They then went on to go over the facts about a lack of reconciliation in the country between the Government and opposition groups.

 

The FIA has in the past claimed that they believe Bahrian has taken big step forward while many activists in the UK, Bahrain and elsewhere argue that human rights violations continue but are simply ignored by western media. Only last week news came out that a British man had been attacked and had his fingers cut off by government forces, what this suggests could be happen being to Bahraini citizens can only be imagined; there are even stories that many employees of the Sakhir circuit accused of having celebrated the cancellation of the race in 2011 were cancelled.

 

The group of politicians finished their letter with “Until it takes concerted measures to reform the electoral, penal and judicial processes, international observers as well as ordinary Bahrainis can have little confidence that Bahrain is on the path to reform and political stability. We urge the FIA to reconsider its decision to continue with the race.” As mentioned before though and as happened in 2011 it still seems likely that the Bahraini government will force the cancelling of the race: wishing to ensure the event doesn’t become a window for the world in to the situation in the country, tickets for the Grand Prix in April are yet to go on sale.

Of the two doubtful races for 2012 Austin looks most likely to go ahead - January 19, 2012 by admin
Formula One coming soon to Austin, hopefully

Formula One coming soon to Austin it seems, photo by Larry D. Moore

Bahrain is looking increasingly unlikely to go ahead while the US Grand Prix at Austin’s circuit of the Americas is looking like it probably will go ahead. The work on circuit of the Americas is continuing apace and the previous delays have been made up for it seems: one has to assume that the owners are pretty confident of holding a race in order to push ahead in this way.

 

Circuit of the Americas should be completed in August now, with the race not being until November this gives plenty of time for homologation, the vice president and Chief Executive of the circuit are visiting Bernie Ecclestone this week to update him on progress.

 

As for Bahrain there have been renewed calls for the race to be cancelled and there seem to be few improvements to the situation in Bahrain with protests continuing, which are banned by the government and being put down by government forces, though in recent weeks primarily using rubber bullets to force dispersal.

 

The protestors of the opposition group Al Wefaq plan another protest at an air show in the country this coming weekend which will be watched with interest by those involved in Formula One: it may be an example in minature of what will happen at a major event like a Grand Prix. If the Grand Prix were to see protests then the event could first of all be severely disrupted and the safery of spectators and Formula One personel could be at risk. If the government’s forces took action againist protestors though and they were injured or killed this would reflect very badly on Formula One and the FIA for the decision to go ahead with the race.

The Bahrain International circuit

The Bahrain International circuit, Photo courtesy of Allan Donque

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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