Daily Archives: April 14, 2012

FIA: Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead

The FIA has responded to doubts over next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix, stating that the race will go ahead as planned.

Several groups, including Amnesty International, have expressed their worry that the sport will be used as a political tool. Currently, the Bahraini authorities are routinely clashing with pro-democracy protestors, and the safety of F1 personnel has been called into doubt.

However, the sport’s governing body has said that the event will be secure:

"Based on the current information the FIA has at this stage, it is satisfied that 
all the proper security measures are in place [...] therefore, the FIA confirms 
that the 2012 Gulf Air F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain will go ahead as scheduled."

Despite one team principal stating otherwise last week, most teams have claimed that they are happy to go to Bahrain. Ross Brawn has said that he believes that the situation is better than last year:

It is very difficult for us," said Brawn. "We have to take the advice of people 
who have all the information that is happening. We have reassurances from the 
FIA that they believe we can have a safe race there, so we follow that advice.
"We are not seeing what we saw last year, for sure. We are taking all the sensible 
measures you can to have the best race we can have. There are a lot of positives 
about going there, so we don't want to lose that."

Despite this, a report from Amnesty delivers a scathing attack on the Bahraini authorities:

"In recent months, the Bahraini authorities have become more concerned with 
rebuilding their image and investing in public relations than with actually 
introducing real human rights and political reforms in their country.

Indeed, for the authorities, much is at stake. They are keen to portray Bahrain 
as a stable and secure country in order to stave off international criticism. 
But as the country prepares to host the Formula 1 grand prix on 20-22 April, 
after the event was cancelled last year in response to the instability in the 
country, daily anti-government protests continue to be violently suppressed by 
the riot police that uses tear gas recklessly and with fatal results. Acts of 
violence by some protesters against the police have also considerably increased 
in the last three months.

Holding the grand prix in Bahrain in 2012 risks being interpreted by the 
government of Bahrain as symbolising a return to business as usual. The 
international community must not turn a blind eye to the ongoing human rights 
crisis in the country. The government must understand that its half-hearted 
measures are not sufficient - sustained progress on real human rights reform 
remains essential."

In recent days, protestors have directed their attention firmly at the Grand Prix. Pictures of Bernie Ecclestone have been torched, and several demonstrators have dressed up as Formula 1 drivers holding machine guns. Twitter hashtags such as “#BloodyF1” make their message clear – they do not want the sport to be seen as supporting the authorities.


Rosberg takes first Mercedes pole in 57 years in China

Nico Rosberg took a surprise pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix, causing a major upset by leading the field by half a second.

Michael Schumacher was 3rd, but will start alongside his teammate due to Lewis Hamilton’s grid drop. Kamui Kobayashi was a surprise 4th, and will start 3rd tomorrow. Here is what happened:


Paul di Resta started proceedings with a 1:38.190. This was promptly beaten by over a second by Lewis Hamilton, pushing ahead of his teammate.

Kamui Kobayashi split the McLarens, while Webber pipped Lewis for 1st place. Jenson got within 0.06 seconds of Mark’s time to demote Hamilton to 3rd.

Felipe Massa was struggling in 16th, so he was forced to use a set of the soft tyres to survive Q1. A final push on the new rubber put Massa on top of the timesheets. However, he was soon displaced by Romain Grosjean.

Despite having good pace, Perez decided to use the option in Q1 as well, and set a 1:36.198 to end the session on top. Jean-Eric Vergne was almost a second off his teammate’s time, and was knocked out of Q1.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:37.714

19) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:38.676

20) Vitaly Petrov – 1:38.677

21) Timo Glock – 1:39.282

22) Charles Pic – 1:39.717

23) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:40.411

24) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:41.127


Kamui Kobayashi was first out, setting a 1:35,962, but was soon displaced by Nico Rosberg. The top 5 were separated by 2 tenths of a second.

It was a poor start for Red Bull, with Vettel only 6th and Webber 9th. Romain Grosjean messed up his first attempt, and left it until the final few minutes to set his time.

The two Ferraris went on their final runs at the same time. Alonso did his best to trouble the frontrunners, but was only 6th, while Massa was 10th.

Mark Webber ended Q2 on top, while the Renaults shoved Sebastian Vettel out of the top 10 in the final minute. The double world champion will start 11th on the grid.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Sebastian Vettel – 1:36.031

12) Felipe Massa – 1:36.255

13) Pastor Maldonado – 1:36.283

14) Bruno Senna – 1:36.289

15) Paul di Resta – 1:36.317

16) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:36.745

17) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:36.956


Kimi Raikkonen was straight out at the start of Q3, setting a 1:35.898. However, Nico Rosberg set a fantastic 1:35.121 to take top spot. Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton were half a second slower than the Mercedes driver.

Mark Webber was over a second off Rosberg’s time. Jenson Button had a similarly poor lap, ensuring both drivers were out of contention for pole.

Kamui Kobayashi shocked many in the paddock by going 4th ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Hamilton and Schumacher were unable to improve on their times, leaving Rosberg half a second in front of the entire grid. This ensured that Mercedes take their first pole position since Italy 1955.

Lewis Hamilton will drop from 2nd to 7th, meaning that Mercedes have effectively locked out the front row, with Kobayashi an incredible 3rd.