Tag Archives: Bahrain GP

Rosberg heads Bahrain practice 2 while Force India pack up early

Rosberg was comfortably ahead of the Red Bulls

Rosberg was comfortably ahead of the Red Bulls

Nico Rosberg led second practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix, but the main story of the day was Force India packing up early for safety reasons.

After a team bus was caught up in a petrol bomb attack on Wednesday evening, the team has decided to leave the paddock early, in order to avoid the planned protests later on in the evening. It is expected that they will return for qualifying tomorrow, however.

Rosberg’s time of 1:32.816 was 4 tenths faster than Mark Webber, with Sebastian Vettel another 3 tenths back. Michael Schumacher had a near miss with Vettel near the end of the session at turn 10, but both cars emerged unscathed, with the Mercedes going 5th.

Despite leading proceedings, Rosberg warned that Mercedes’ tyre overheating issues were worse than ever:

"We have to analyse things. In general, conditions are probably the worst they
have been here with the tyres overheating.

We learned a lot and we are looking much better than maybe we would have thought. 
But we need to see where we are. We are having to make changes because out there 
it's very unusual - conditions are very tough."

Times from FP2:

 1. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:32.816            35 
 2. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:33.262  +0.446   26 
 3. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:33.525  +0.709   28 
 4. Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:33.747  +0.931   26 
 5. Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:33.862  +1.046   31 
 6. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:34.246  +1.430   28 
 7. Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:34.411  +1.595   34 
 8. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:34.449  +1.633   31 
 9. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1:34.615  +1.799   32 
10. Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:34.893  +2.077   34 
11. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:34.895  +2.079   29 
12. Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:34.941  +2.125   29 
13. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1:35.183  +2.367   33 
14. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:35.229  +2.413   26 
15. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1:35.459  +2.643   38 
16. Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault      1:35.913  +3.097   32 
17. Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault      1:35.968  +3.152   35 
18. Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault      1:36.169  +3.353   30 
19. Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth     1:36.587  +3.771   32 
20. Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth     1:37.803  +4.987   33 
21. Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth          1:37.812  +4.996   28 
22. Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1:39.649  +6.833   27
23. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  N/A                 0
24. Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  N/A                 0

Hamilton leads Bahrain first practice

Hamilton only set 11 laps

Hamilton only set 11 laps

After all of the debate during the last few days, the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend had a quiet start, with Lewis Hamilton leading an uneventful first practice.

Lewis only set 11 laps in the 90-minute session, setting a 1:33.572 regardless. Sebastian Vettel had reverted to the newer-spec Red Bull car, and was 0.3 seconds off the McLaren.

Paul di Resta was 3rd, on the softer tyre. Chinese GP race winner Nico Rosberg was 4th, with Jenson Button 5th, who said he was not expecting to be fast this weekend:

"At the moment I'm not a guy to watch out for but at the moment the Red Bulls and 
the Mercedes look very quick. The Red Bull is surprisingly [quick] but hopefully 
we will know a bit more tomorrow.

There is a lot of work needed in our garage to improve what we have. I'm not happy 
today, we have tried lots of different things and none of them really worked so we 
will work late tonight and hopefully find something that will work tomorrow.

At the moment I can't make either [tyre] work."

Fernando Alonso was almost two seconds off the pace in 13th place, with teammate Massa a further two places back.

Timo Glock’s spin at turn 1 near the end of the session was the only noteworthy event.

Times from FP1:

 1. Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1:33.572          11
 2. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1:33.877  +0.305  21
 3. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   1:34.150  +0.578  26
 4. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1:34.249  +0.677  23
 5. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1:34.277  +0.705  14
 6. Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes   1:34.344  +0.772  26
 7. Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1:34.483  +0.911  17
 8. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1:34.552  +0.980  22
 9. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault          1:34.609  +1.037  17
10. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault          1:34.847  +1.275  20
11. Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1:35.024  +1.452  22
12. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault       1:35.268  +1.696  24
13. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1:35.436  +1.864  21
14. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault       1:35.497  +1.925  24
15. Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1:35.719  +2.147  19
16. Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1:35.929  +2.357  24
17. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:36.195  +2.623  20
18. Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault       1:36.330  +2.758  11
19. Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault       1:36.484  +2.912  18
20. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:36.591  +3.019  20
21. Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth      1:37.467  +3.895  17
22. Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth      1:38.006  +4.434  18
23. Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth           1:38.877  +5.305  19
24. Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           1:39.996  +6.424  23

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.

Pressure grows to cancel Bahrain Grand Prix

It is clear that many do not want the race to go ahead - some more than others

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.

Bahrain abandons efforts for 2011 race

Heads of the Bahrain International Circuit have given in to mounting pressure and announced that they will not persue holding a Grand Prix in Bahrain in 2011.

In recent days the FIA announced that the Bahrain event would return to the calendar, moving into India’s original spot. However, Max Mosley, Bernie Ecclestone and FOTA all agreed to oppose the event. Their argument was that unanimous agreement was needed in order to change race dates, which was never going to be achieved.

After months of critisism from international media, the circuit organisers have conceded that a race will not occur there in 2011.

Circuit chairman Zayed Alzayani has announced:

"Whilst Bahrain would have been delighted to see the Grand Prix progress on October 
30th in-line with the World Motor Sport Council’s decision, it has been made clear 
that this fixture cannot progress and we fully respect that decision.

Bahrain has always sought to play a positive role in the continued development of 
Formula One, from pioneering F1 racing in the Middle East, to helping other countries 
in facilitating their own races in new territories, as well as providing our own 
unique experience and universal welcome to Grand Prix supporters.

Bahrain has absolutely no desire to see a race which would further extends the 
calendar season detract from the enjoyment of F1 for either drivers, teams or 
supporters. We want our role in Formula One to continue to be as positive and 
constructive as it has always been, therefore, in the best interest of the sport, 
we will not pursue the rescheduling of a race this season.

We look forward to welcoming teams, their drivers and supporters back to Bahrain 
next year and would like to extend our deepest gratitude to our supporters, including 
staff, volunteers, sponsors, private businesses and the general public, for whom I 
know this year’s decision will be a disappointment. We would also especially like to 
thank the FIA, FOM, The Bahrain Motor Federation (BMF) and the teams for all support 
and understanding they have extended to us at this time."

While it will not be confirmed for a while, it is almost certain that the Indian Grand Prix will now be returned to its original October 30th date.

Bahrain Grand Prix returned to calendar

Amid unanimous opposition the Bahrain GP has returned

Amid unanimous opposition the Bahrain GP has returned

The Bahrain Grand Prix has been reinstated on the 2011 Formula 1 calendar, after a decision made today by the World Motor Sport Council.

The Grand Prix will take place on the 28th – 30th October, when the Indian GP was supposed to take place. No statement has been made on this yet, but it is believed it will be moved back to December, a move that teams are strongly opposed to.

The following statement has been issued by the Bahrain International Circuit:

The head of the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) today welcomed the decision of 
the FIA (Federation Internationale de L’Automobile) World Motor Sport Council to 
reintroduce the Bahrain Grand Prix to the 2011 calendar.

The decision, announced by the FIA after the Council’s meeting in Barcelona, 
follows a FIA delegation visit to Bahrain to assess the situation in country 
this week.

Zayed R. Alzayani, Chairman of the BIC, said: “This is welcome news for all of 
Bahrain. As a country we have faced a difficult time, but stability has returned; 
with businesses operating close to normal, the State of National Safety lifted and 
countries removing travel restrictions.

“Collectively, we are in the process of addressing issues of national and 
international concern, and learning lessons from the recent past. By the time the 
Grand Prix arrives we will be able to remind the world about Bahrain at its best.

“The Bahrain Grand Prix has always been a source of national pride and it is an 
event than transcends politics. Not only does it receive strong support from the 
Government, but also from all major parties in Bahrain, including our largest 
opposition group, Al Wefaq, who yesterday endorsed both the BIC and motor racing 
in Bahrain.

“Importantly, it will also offer a significant boost to the economy. The Grand 
Prix attracts 100,000 visitors, supports 3,000 jobs and generates around $500m 
of economic benefit. Its positive effect will be felt throughout the country.

“On behalf of Bahrain, I would like to thank Bernie Ecclestone, Jean Todt and 
the FIA and the rest of the motorsport community for the support and understanding 
they have extended to us this year.”

Bahrain is a pioneer of motorsport in the region and the rescheduled Grand Prix 
will be the 8th hosted by the Kingdom since its inaugural race in 2004.

After a meeting of the teams in Monaco, team principals agreed their unanimous opposition to the reinstallation of the Grand Prix. After a government crackdown on protestors in the past few weeks, nearly the entire paddock is against returning to the troubled state.

However, according to the Guardian, the teams have no choice in the matter if they are instructed to race:

The Formula 1 teams are united in their opposition to the reinstatement of the Bahrain 
Grand Prix but concede that they would be legally obliged to attend should the World 
Motor Sport Council give the race the green light."

The teams have made their opposition clear to Bernie Ecclestone. Several human rights groups have also written to the FIA asking them to remove the race from the calendar.

While I don’t want to get political about this, I feel that this is completely the wrong call. On the same day that the race was reinstated, thousands of Bahraini citizens are taking part in a funeral procession for an activist killed in police custody. The efforts that the Bahrain government made to get this race back were disgraceful, and Formula 1 simply cannot be a part of this.

FIA allows 1 month Bahrain deadline extension

The 2011 Bahrain GP still appears uncertain

The 2011 Bahrain GP still appears uncertain

The FIA has allowed the Bahrain Motor Federation an additional month to decide the future of the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix.

With the original deadline expiring yesterday, rumours mounted that the Grand Prix was in serious doubt for 2011. However, after encouragement from Bernie Ecclestone a few days ago, the FIA is giving more time for the event organisers to make the call.

Violent protests against the Bahrain government caused the race to be cancelled in March, and since then the country has been in a state of emergency.

This one-month extension is being granted to assess the condition of the state’s political climate, which is currently tense to say the least.

With this, it seems almost certain that, if the race is rescheduled for 2011, it will take place after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and before the Brazilian Grand Prix. This is because the 4-week break in the summer is too close to organise a race, and the 20th November seems to be the only achieveable target for the race to go ahead.

Ecclestone gives Bahrain GP decision extra time

Bernie Ecclestone has given the Bahrain GP organisers more time

Bernie Ecclestone has given the Bahrain GP organisers more time

Formula 1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone is set to give more time to the Bahrain Grand prix organisers, who are trying to reschedule the race after it was cancelled earlier this year.

Political turmoil and civil unrest caused the event to be called off, and with tension in the region still high, the Grand Prix is still in doubt.

With this in mind, Ecclestone has said that he is willing to allow another month to the organisers:

"We need to wait a little bit to see exactly how progress is made. I suppose we'd be 
safe by early June or something like that.

Things can change in a couple of weeks...so you don't know. All of a sudden everything 
might be peaceful in a month's time and they are happy to run the event and so we are 
happy to be there."

In March the World Motor Sport Council set a deadline of May 1st for the event. However, with a state of emergency in place until the 15th May, and travel offices warning against travel to the Gulf state, there appears to be no end in sight yet to this debacle.

Bahrain GP decision delayed until May

The 2011 Bahrain GP is still in doubt

The 2011 Bahrain GP is still in doubt

After the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix, which was due to take place this weekend, the race organisers have been given until May 1st to decide the future of the 2011 event.

Speculation over the past few weeks has been mounting over if the 2011 race can actually take place, as the 20-race calendar contains very few empty slots for Bahrain to fill. Only two choices are currently being discussed. The first is to host the race during the summer break, in early July. However, the searing temperatures (up to 40 degrees) has discouraged this date.

The second option, and the better one in my opinion, is to move the race one week before or after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. However, this poses logistical problems to the teams, who would have up to 3 races in 3 weeks.

With a difficult decision on their hands, the Bahrain Motor Federation has been granted time to make their call, according to an FIA statement:

"The World Motor Sport Council asked the Bahrain Motor Federation to communicate by 
May 1st at the latest if the Bahrain Grand Prix can be organised in 2011."

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has also stated that he will look for every opportunity to host the race:

"I don't know how likely it is that there is going to be peace in Bahrain. But if 
there is, we will find a way.

The people there have been very big supporters of us, and are becoming bigger and 
bigger. We have much more support in Bahrain than we did when we first started 
there, and if they want the race we want to supply it for them."

Bahrain Grand Prix called off

The 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix has been postponed

The 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix has been postponed

After a week of violence in Bahrain, the country’s prince has decided that the 2011 F1 season opener will not take place.

Instead the season will commence in Melbourne, Australia, on the 25th-27th March.

The announcement was made earlier today by the Crown Prince of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa:

“We felt it was important for the country to focus on immediate issues of 
national interest.

Bahrain’s priority is on overcoming tragedy, healing divisions and rediscovering 
the fabric that draws this country together to remind the world of the very best 
that Bahrain is capable of as a nation once again united.”

It is currently unknown whether the race will take place at a later date, or be cancelled entirely. However, an FIA statement has referred to the race as being “postponed”:

“The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile supports the decision of the 
Bahrain Motor Federation and the Bahrain International Circuit to postpone the 
scheduled first Grand Prix of the 2011 season due to be held in the Kingdom of 
Bahrain on March 11-13.

This decision is the outcome of the close co-operation between the FIA, Formula 
One Management, the Bahrain Motor Federation and the Bahrain International Circuit.”

Similarly, the pre-season test in Bahrain, on the 3rd of March, has also been cancelled. Barcelona will organise another test on the 8th-11th March to take its place. Also, the two-week gap where the Grand Prix should have been may also play host to another test elsewhere.

After the horrific violence seen in recent days, there is no doubt that this was the right decision. Even if clashes quell soon enough, the time taken for the country to repair will take weeks or months, and it would be of no service to the people to host a Grand Prix during that time.

In F1 terms, focus will eventually switch to when the race will (probably) be rescheduled. While the event may be moved to the final round slot, I feel it should take place on the 6th November, a week after the Indian Grand Prix, and a week before the Abu Dhabi GP. The thinking behind this is that the close proximity to Abu Dhabi will eliminate the problem of 3 Grands Prix in 3 weeks.