June 03, 2011

Bahrain A Go-Go

The FIA, in their infinite wisdom and uncanny powers of reasoning, have decided that there'll be a Grand Prix in Bahrain after all this season.  It will be taking over the weekend the Indian Grand Prix was scheduled for, October 30th.  India will now be the last GP of the season, running on December 11th.  Not only will this be the longest F1 season in terms of number of races, now it'll be the longest in terms of calendar time as well.

As one can imagine, this is not going over well.  The deputy director of Human Rights Watch said "It seems like a highly questionable decision by Formula One.  (Teams and drivers) now have to make a decision influenced by financial reasons and personal feelings."  The Guardian is essentially calling for teams to boycott the race.  Mark Webber, who has been the most outspoken driver regarding a return to Bahrain, tweeted "When people in a country are being hurt, the issues are bigger than sport. Let's hope the right decision is made."  Former world champion Damon Hill came out against the decision, saying F1 "will forever have the blight of association with repressive methods to achieve order."  And the head of F1 Update! here at The Pond said "This is a ridiculous decision by the FIA.  If the championship has been decided by Bahrain, look for teams to not even show up."  As much as it pains us, the F1U! team actually agrees with former FIA Fuhrer Max Mosley's view that advertisers are going to run screaming from the public relations fiasco that will occur.

If you have any questions about exactly why the decision was made to race in Bahrain, one needs look no further than this article on F1 Fanatic.  Formula One Group, the corporation that owns the rights to the promotion of F1, is set to generate almost $1.8 BILLION in revenue this year.  Money makes the sport go 'round.

Which also explains the other news that came out of the FIA today: the calendar for next year has 21 races on it.  The inaugural US Grand Prix on the new circuit in Austin, TX, will be June 17th, 2012.  One year to get the track ready... cross fingers, folks!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:05 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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1 I haven't heard any news about Bahrain in a while. Did the protests there subside?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 03, 2011 08:32 PM (+rSRq)

2 Mostly, yeah.  The Brits recently lifted their travel advisory, and the Bahraini government declared the state of emergency to be over on June 1st... two days before the FIA began meeting to decide on the race.  So it's all hunky-dory, right?

Not so much.  Bahrain still won't let international reporters into the country, and the government controls the internal press... which is why you haven't heard anything on the news about the situation there. 

Still, some news has gotten out... none of it good.  I can't find the report on F1 Fanatic, but there was a blurb about 28 members of the racetrack's staff being arrested.  I'm sure it was only coincidence that they were all Shi'a.  English Al-Jazeera said that young women who were protesting have been beaten and threatened with rape for taking part.  Some of the things Amnesty International have been saying make for grim reading as well.

So... take that for what you will.  Sounds to me like there's still something going on, perhaps just under the surface.  If F1 does race there, expect troubles.

Posted by: Wonderduck at June 03, 2011 09:41 PM (n0k6M)

3 Austin Tx in the middle of June is murderously hot, 95-100ºF daytime temps with not much cooling at night. I'd think adding this race to the end of the schedule next to Brazil makes a lot more sense.

Posted by: von Krag at June 03, 2011 10:43 PM (VGXAE)

4 Von Krag, that's about the only thing that's keeping me from going to the race in 2012.  Well, that and money, but primarily the heat. 

While putting the race at the beginning or end of the calendar makes sense from the view of the climate, the teams don't want to have to travel to North America more times than required.  If you move the Austin race, then you have to move Canada as well... and Canada in November is worse from a racing standpoint than Austin in June.

Posted by: Wonderduck at June 04, 2011 07:31 AM (n0k6M)

5 Wonderduck, just why the F1 PTB & Berni excluded the US for so many years is a question I can't answer. The largest media market worldwide needs instant gravitas that a end of the season race would give. With teams & all forms of racing being ultra-competitive today & more of them clustered trying to get to the top of the media heap, end of season F1 might make a compelling bit of news. This is the kind of hook that can break open the US media, which IMO is rather simplistic in its need for a linear story too. Indy has a 100 years of racing tradition but as a series Indy has flopped since the Tony George instigated split. NASCAR is showing signs of weakness as its racing & drivers has become too homogenized. F1 can only benefit as a clear & exciting alternative to bland here in the US if Berni et all balance Europe, Asia & the Americas by making the USA race worth caring about rather than a bone tossed.

Posted by: von Krag at June 04, 2011 08:24 AM (VGXAE)

6  But the end of the season race only has gravitas if the points standings are that close. We got really lucky last year with a fantastic race to close out the season. This year we may not be so lucky. If Vettel keeps it up, this season will be over with several races to go.

I'll probably see about going (it's not very far and, well, it'll be murderously hot even if I stay home!)

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at June 04, 2011 12:25 PM (vE/gS)

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