Perhaps ironically, despite many people calling on Formula 1 to stay away from the tiny Gulf state (myself included), the fact that teams are now encamped at the Bahrain International Circuit has allowed the accompanying media the opportunity to witness and report on some of the real events happening to the ordinary men, women and children here. Without F1, we can be certain that this level of attention would have been reduced to just the odd by-line.
There’s little use criticising Bernie Ecclestone for putting this event back on the calendar; I’m pretty sure that Bernie sleeps well at night, whatever is being said about him, but the FIA is different. Its charter clearly states that it will not engage in political discrimination in the course of its activities, whilst Article 2 affirms its objective of upholding the “interests of its members in all international matters concerning automobile mobility and tourism and motor sport.”
Well I don’t believe that the FIA is acting in accordance with its charter; politics aside, it cannot be in the general interests of its members to see the organisation, and Formula 1 (which it regulates) brought into disrepute by allowing this Grand Prix to take place. We should rejoice that Formula 1 is now a global sport, and we must accept that sport will always be used to promote agendas and earn revenues, but this should not be at the expense of the freedom of the people where it is taking place.
There is very little appetite in the paddock for the race to go ahead but the teams and drivers have jobs to do; they’re professionals and they’ll do it. So we shouldn’t criticise them for being there, it’s where they have to be, and I think that the people of Bahrain realise this. But for the FIA, there is no excuse. They should now withdraw whilst they still have some dignity. The world is watching.
19th April 2012