It is clear that many do not want the race to go ahead - some more than others
Similar to last year, pressure is growing on the FIA to cancel the Bahrain Grand Prix, which is scheduled to take place next weekend.
Repeated crackdowns on pro-democracy protestors in the region in 2011 have spiralled into waves of violence in recent times. Only yesterday, a home-made bomb exploded in the village of Eker, injuring seven police officers. A spokesperson declared this an “act of terrorism”.
Civil unrest is just as high this year – hunger striker Abdulhadi al-Khawaja is the most prolific example of the people standing up to their government. His protest has been going on for two months, and there are fears that his death in the hands of the authorities would inspire further protests and violence.
The teams have stayed silent on the matter for a while, but recently have taken a stand against the FIA. While the sport’s governing body has repeatedly stated that the race will go ahead, one anonymous team principal has broken his silence and spoken out against the race:
"We're all hoping the FIA calls it off. From a purely legal point of view, in
terms of insurance and government advice, we are clear to go. But what we find
worrying is that there are issues happening every day."
Last year’s farce showed that the FIA are perfectly happy to lie blatantly about the situation until the last second. Only a week before the race was cancelled, they staunchly supported the Bahraini authorities, citing a “spirit of reconciliation” in the country.
This year, they repeated that exact same phrase, while again emphasising that the race would go ahead as planned. Bernie Ecclestone, meanwhile, only blamed the media for stirring up trouble:
"It's business as usual. I don't think the people who are trying to
demonstrate a little bit are going to use anything to do with F1. If
they did they would be a little bit silly.
The problem is people like you [the press] who make the concerns not
the teams and not the people in Bahrain. Seriously, the press should
just be quiet and deal with the facts rather than make up stories."
He then went on to praise the country:
"The good thing about Bahrain is it seems more democratic there than
most places. People are allowed to speak when they want, they can protest
if they want to."
Of course, money has played a large factor in proceedings. The main reason the FIA left it to the race organisers to cancel the 2011 race was so that they could keep the $40m race fee paid by the circuit, despite no race going ahead. To pull such a stunt with people’s lives at risk is just obscene.
With such a large risk involved in going to the troubled region, it is unthinkable that Formula 1 could race in Bahrain this month.