Despite the troubles of the past fourteen months, the Bahrain Grand Prix has been confirmed by the FIA in China this morning, irrespective of the ongoing violence in parts of the tiny country.
I disagree wholeheartedly with this decision. Motorsport has always been about business – ever since day one – but now it is entering the realm of political football, and is being used heavily as a tool in a territory fighting to define its future.
The moment the “Unif1ed – One Nation in Celebration” poster was unveiled, this race should have been called. This decision by the FIA to plough on regardless, despite the highly sensitive political situation in the region displays a shockingly poor level of judgement.
That much of the talk regarding safety has focussed purely on the drivers and teams shows utmost disrespect for the fans, marshals and independent media who will be frequenting the event without the aid of security guards and armoured cars.
The drivers exist in a bubble, underneath several sheets of cotton wool. They will be fine. What happens to everybody else is seemingly unimportant to the governing body of motorsport.
That the FIA have painted a message of “all is well” despite contrary reports from human rights organisations and independent media is also a depressing sign of weakness.
I have barely missed a Grand Prix since the mid-80s. In this instance, I think a long walk on April 22nd may be a requirement.
This site will not host any opinion coverage of the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix.
FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP – BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX
The FIA is the governing body of motor sport and therefore of Formula One. As such, it sets the season’s calendars following the proposal of the Commercial Rights Holder (CRH) in accordance with the local national authorities in all matters relating to safety.
Within that context, the FIA ensures that any event forming part of an FIA World Championship is organised in compliance with the FIA Statutes and the relevant Sporting and Technical Regulations and that the safety of the public, officials, drivers and teams is secured at all times during an event.
The FIA must make rational decisions based on the information provided to us by the Bahraini authorities and by the Commercial Rights Holder. In addition we have endeavoured to assess the ongoing situation in Bahrain.
President Jean Todt led a fact-finding mission to the Kingdom in November 2011, meeting a large number of decision-makers and opinion formers, including elected Shia members of parliament, the president of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, ambassadors from the European Union countries, the Crown Prince, the Interior Minister and many members of the business community.
All expressed their wish for the Grand Prix to go ahead in 2012, and since then, the FIA has kept in close touch with all these stakeholders. Away from the public eye, the FIA has received regular security briefings from the most senior diplomatic officials based in the Kingdom as well as from other independent experts.
The 2012 calendar, as presented by the CRH, was ratified by the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) in September 2011. Since then no request from the F1 Commission or the CRH has been made to the WMSC to either postpone or cancel the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Based on the current information the FIA has at this stage, it is satisfied that all the proper security measures are in place for the running of a Formula One World Championship event in Bahrain.
Therefore, the FIA confirms that the 2012 Gulf Air F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain will go ahead as scheduled.