62 thoughts on “Bahrain. No comment.

  1. Can someone copy and paste the article. I’m sick of registering with subscriber needing bodies on the net. If you’re a paper – just print the fucking story!

    1. Johnny Mol,

      A publication might say: “Just pay for the f**king story” and it have as much justification as your remark.

  2. I never knew that many/much of the staff were arrested during the crackdowns. I wonder if they’d be even be willing to work at a future grand prix there.

    I don’t get why FOM is so eager to hold the race this year. I’m sure it’s for the hosting fees, but he never offered to cover it in the event the race is not held, FOM wouldn’t be on the hook. Anyway, I hope the teams stand their ground not to race in December.

  3. Here is another detail. Colleges started to open a week ago after being close for 2 months.

    But students had to sign a document where they pledge loyalty to the country and its “leadership”. Cars & students were searched at the entry gate. These measures convinced some to abandon studies altogether for the current year.

  4. I really hope Bernie can come to his senses for once and ditch this grand prix. Sure there are contracts he wants to adhere to, but the cost of F1 associating itself with such a disgusting country would be much higher than the compensation required to pay for cancelling the Bahrain GP contract.

  5. Mr. Saward,

    I have to disagree with you asking us to sign up to register to a third party.

    The reason that we follow you, and your blogs, is that you actually have information and opinions that line up with our train of thought, as it relates to Formula One.

    This little field trip is way out of your character.

    If you have an opinion, blog it for us all to read and comment on.

    As long as you quote the sources, I do not believe that we really care.

    Asking us to register to a third party website, and then draw our own conclusions, and comment on this blog, is somewhat spun.

    I am sure they have their own blog format, for people that are registered, to comment on their story lines.

    If this story is important in the Formula One circle, as you believe it is, let us know.

    Then we can stare ideas and opinions, in this blogs medium.

    Thanks Joe.

    1. Jumpy Bob,

      That you for telling me about my character and my job. The truth is that I was busy and did not have time to spare to create a suitable article. I have also banged on enough about Bahrain. The FT is a very credible source and the article speaks for itself.

      As I have said many times before if you want more then we can go to a pay-blog and then I will have a good reason to dedicate more time to this.

  6. Use google news and search for “Bahrain Grand Prix Financial Times”. It will allow you to view article without registering.


    I think it would be a disgrace if they ran the race this year or any time soon. I get it that China and some of these other countries (hell, probably EVERY country to some degree) have massive human rights abuses as well but I think Bahrain owns a special distinction at the moment.

  7. @Ben: The title uses wordplay “Bahrain races to restore normality” to quite elegantly highlight the tensions exposed in this short two-sentence article. I suspect Joe quite enjoyed the way they did that. The first sentence explains that the GP was canceled due to “protest and repression” and the second says:

    “Many, especially regime supporters, hope the government will decide by its June 3 deadline to go ahead with the Grand Prix, marking a return to normality for the Gulf business hub.”


  8. Thanks Joe, I love your column but common sense applies. I don’t need to register with the Financial Times to tell me that Bahrain is a powder keg.

  9. Or if you can’t be bothered to do that, just do a search for “bahrain races to restore normality”

  10. Mr Saward,

    Knowing what you know now, do you feel safe at the idea of going to Bahrain later this year or early next?

    1. Reboot,

      I will make that decision when the race is on, until then I am not wasting any mental energy on it.

  11. @Ben

    The FT will let you see it if you come from Google.

    Go to Google News, search for “Bahrain races to restore normality”, click.

  12. “it was cancelled in March because of large pro-democracy protests.”

    Right, it wasn’t the government shooting its own people.

  13. Surely the race would have to be abandoned for 2011 , as it looks like if it was rescheduled the civil unrest would increase then come to a climax when the race was there , as one of the biggest oppertunities for an international audience …

    Joe , in your opinion if the race was given the green light for this season , would teams object because of safety of their own staff?

    The mention of killing foreigners in the article would ring alarm bells with the organisers ?

  14. What a sad story. “The love of money is the root of all evil.” Paul the Apostle’s wise observation was written nearly 2000 years ago. ‘Twas ever thus…..

  15. It doesn’t make pleasant reading. If one takes it as the truth, then F1 can’t go IMHO. The two things that swing the whole thing for me are, The Medical staff being targeted and the Circuit staff. Nobody in their right mind takes medical staff into custody, and worse, for doing their job. I listened to the BBC world service a while back from the Gulf and decided then, that no way should F1 be going there. Reading this article only reinforces that view. Lets give them a date for next year and give them and the powers that be more time.

  16. I think the last line in the article summarizes it perfectly

    “I came to Bahrain thinking it was the Beirut of the Gulf,” says one banker, referring to the island’s liberal outlook. “But it now reminds me of Lebanon for all the wrong reasons.”

    And not having a 3rd of the staff will not help in getting a GP done well and safely if it does get pushed through.

    Good luck Bahrain to work to a “normal” state. Take your time to do it right.

  17. By the way Ben, registrating is free of charge. You can then read a limited amount of articles per 30 day period, or pay to have unlimited access.

  18. Joe you make your feelings about the Grand Prix in Bahrain very clear. It should not go back.

    I tend to agree with you. Is there any formal movement that you are aware of where people who share your view can register their support or voice their concerns?

    Not that Mr Ecclestone would give it a second look, but I think the message must be sent none the less.

  19. I’ve made my own mind up – I don’t believe F1 should return to Bahrain. If F1 does go back this year then it will lose a lot of credibility and I would hope that team managers and drivers would make a stand and say ‘No’ if it was decided that they should return this year.

  20. Go to news.google.com and put “Bahrain races to restore normality” into the search box. That should let you read the article without registering.

  21. Ben & others,

    FT uses the same strange system as a number of other websites, you dont need to register if you arrive there from Google, or 1 of the other larger link generating sites. They want your contact details, but they want the traffic from Google and some of the other social networking sites more.

    http://news.google.com/news/search?aq=f&pz=1&cf=all&ned=us&hl=en&q=bahrain+financial+times will therefore show you a direct link to the article in question.

    Anyway, the article really doesnt have anything new its just rehasing old material.

  22. Joe,

    If this is the news that the Bahrainian authorities (allegedly) fired and/ or jailed a quarter of the track officials because they applauded the race being cancelled, then it reinforces my belief that F1 should not return to the country… (unless there is a significant change in governance there).

  23. FT registration is free at a base level.

    The situation in Bahrain is an extreme manifestation of the problems inherent in Bernie’s expansionist policy. Not only is F1 being dragged around the world to perform in front of empty grandstands, but it’s also taking money from increasingly unsavoury regimes.

    Bernie needs to assess a country’s desire to have a race on more than just their willingness to pay.

  24. Yup I saw this the other day on their website, thought it was a very good article. That a paper as professional, high brow, and well respected as the FT has come out with a direct argument showing that the Bahrain government is using the circuit to political means, is important.

    Of course, everyone knows this already. But often papers are wary of posting direct arguments like this one. Added to the fact that the FT readership is exactly the kind of business that bahrain will be trying to draw to its country, its an important statement from the paper.

    for those complaining about the link, grow up. if you want to read, register. If not, dont moan about it. I would actually advise subscribing, as it is one of the best news sources out there, along with the BBC and NYT etc. huge insight, huge amount of material. So dont moan when they refuse to hand it out for free like most of the crappy red-tops etc. Even the Times is pay to view now. Its happening everywhere, so get used to it!

  25. I’m not registering either. I’m cheesed off with 3rd party sign up’s. Back to the other “FREE” news about this subject.

    Just ditch the place. Don’t even look at the country until it’s safe to plant daffodils again.

    I can’t see why he’s so desperate to keep it ( there’s a hint of sarcasm in there ).

  26. “But even motorsport has been dragged into the Sunni-dominated government’s campaign against largely Shia protesters.”

    Not all motorsport or even all sport … 2 weeks ago the was a motor race at the Bahrain circuit with no protests or lack of support staff, and last week there was rugby tournament, also with no protests or lack of staff.

    Makes you wonder why F1 has been specifically targeted by protesters and the suddenly unavailable support staff, support staff who were very available 2 weeks ago for a motor race.

  27. Bernie constantly says that F1 doesn’t do politics, which let’s face it, is patently false on many levels. It’s clear to me that until Bahrain has had a stable period of peace and rest (probably on the order of years) without human rights abuses on the scale which the current government has unashamably demonstrated over the past few months, that F1 has no place here. Further more, F1’s reputation would be muddied, and the sport shunned elsewhere in the world.

    And that’s before we even move to the safety and well being of the teams, the staff, the journalists etc …

    Stay away from Bahrain.


  28. Johnny Mol,

    “Just print the *** story”. But if they did, you would expect to pay if it were printed in the newspaper. Asking you to register (ignoring the other routes to the story) at no cost offers them a possible minute return in advertising, etc, for “printing” the story on the Internet.

    If everyone demanded that all news be free, who the hell would pay for the creation of it ? It’s the Achilles’ heel of the Internet news business, and the reason that various publications are now tentatively going behind a pay wall. As a former journalist, I never understood, from the start, why any news organisation gave its expensively created product away free. Nike doesn’t.

  29. Geez – Joe does us a service by going against the old saying “you don’t get owt for nowt” yet still people complain.

    Interesting article that I hadn’t picked up elsewhere, thanks for drawing it to my attention

  30. joe…I think this a classic case of the perils that professional journalists face: be damned if you tell, be damned if you don’t…:-)

  31. Ignoring all the comments about registering to read the story, something which takes only a few minutes and is free, and going to the story. It just confirms my belief that Bahrein is somewhere where F1 should not return to until there is a lawful democratic government representing all sections of society, not a place ruled by a despotic elite.

  32. People shouldn’t pick on Bernie so much. After the divorce settlement the poor bloke barely has two billion to rub together.

    This saga leaves a very sour taste. It’s all about the ego and sheer greed of the individuals involved and does more to bring the sport into disrepute than certain teams and drivers have over the years.

    1. Mon Pen,

      Perhaps you don’t know about other investments that Mr E may have in property etc…

  33. Hey Commentators (but only some of you), Joe informs you of an article (that he thinks will inform) while travelling, FREE of charge, and YOU, yes YOU have a go at him?? If you don’t like the FT’s register policy, you could like er, use a false email address (or link from Google as pointed out above). That would be a lot less energy than coming back to an article and moaning. As Joe said he does this for free and has made his position on Bahrain before, plain to all. Have some manners!

  34. Well, outcome forgone, quoting myself,


    the Quis custodiet bit, at least.

    Not cool, this. Monocultural rule defines suspicion. Not realizing they have a bigger problem, they winnow the field. Hardly surprising at all.

    Oh, how it was:


    notice they took down their photo archive for that date, or it’s unavailable.

    These places ought to be paradises. Keep reading that archive, which ought now to be in quotation marks, for op-ed i do not remember being in the print editions i coveted for the wonderful divers imagary.

    – john

  35. F1 had no problem for many years visiting South Africa when apartheid was in the rudest of rude health from 1962 trough to the mid 1980’s. It only left after the 1985 GP when the writing was on the wall in most senses of the expression.
    The current abuses in Bahrain have a long way to go before they approach what was perpetrated in SA, and given that Bernie ran the show then I do not think that he will be losing too much sleep about the appaling treatment of Medical people and protesters recently in Bahrain.
    To be honest, anybody who happily visited SA in those days and were happy to eat in whites only restaurants, stay in whites only hotels and travel…….etc should thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Note that the SA authorities used to get around the laws for rich and influential non-white international visitors (Arabs, Japanese, Chinese, Indians etc) was to make them an “honorary white person!!” I kid you NOT!!

    F1 should stand up and proclaim that Bahrain for the time being is a no go area until there is change for the better!!
    If history is anything to go by then when these sorts of protests start it is only an matter of time before permentent change occurs. It may be a year, 5-10 years or even a few decades but it does eventually!

  36. Joe, thank you for taking some time to again acknowledge the human plight in Baharein. I don’t think anyone can tell us when it will end and F1 placing a June 2 deadline was kind of a slap in the face to the people struggling for their freedom. Have a wonderful time and enjoy the weather in one of the most beautiful places in the world!

  37. Read the story through Google.

    I’ll be ashamed if F1 races in Bahrain any time soon. I hope the sponsors of the teams will feel such heat they’ll insist on taking their branding off the cars.

    Red Bull! Fun energy drink with a murderous dictatorship? Hardly the image they’re racing to promote.

    I wonder how Pirelli would respond to tens of thousands of car enthusiasts – the people who buy their premium tyres – being told Pirelli is blacklisted by consumers?

  38. Nicko!,

    same here, the dateline for events is April . . .

    so this freaking thing is not on Jane’s, or Monitoring, and just comes out now on the proverbial wire, who cost between them 4 grand pcm to subscribe . . .

    and well it’s the FT et al who report, but Joe didn’t delay, to relay.

    The lovely effect of having advertiser “clients”, sorry but i have customers, not the industry word “client”, only whores and solicitors have clients, and both, and this is the root of the word, demand conspiracy.

    Actually, i find it difficult, when secondary journalism happens. But not here, because Joe has been on the case, not toeing the line.

    – j

  39. Gareth – Since the Royal family owns part of McLaren, I don’t see any protests against McLaren right now.

  40. While I wouldn’t bitch at Joe for FT’s short-sighted policy that only loses them readers, I do want to point out that giving up your contact details in no way equals “free”. Your personal Information is a commodity, and the same goes for your attention and time. I wasn’t prepared to give FT any of that for this particular article, but I don’t think it’s seemly to whine about that choice.

  41. @Karen: that these events you mention went on without any protests, could that be because the protesters are either just too damn scared or imprisoned already?

    @Nicko! That your friends in Bahrain haven’t heard of it should not be surprising. Media in any of the Gulf States are censored in some way, shape or form.

  42. It has all been said before about F1 and their sposors being tarnished by going to Bahrain but I would like to add my voice to the debate, which to be honest seems to be very one sided. I think that F1 should definitely stay away from Bahrain this year and be very wary of returning any time soon.
    I love F1 and have barely missed a race in the 16 years that I have followed it. But I don’t think I would be able to watch F1 race in Bahrain this year. It would leave a very bitter taste in my mouth.
    F1 surely has more to lose by going there.

  43. If everyone was so concerned with human rights then we wouldn’t go to Abu Dhabi, certainly not China, and perhaps some other countries. I’m not for a second suggesting that the time is right or wrong to return to Bahrain, but some of the comments are ill-informed in light of history.

  44. I’m not saying China is perfect or any other country but if China repeated Tianamun Square or any country sent in tanks and machine guns to suppress free speech I wouldnt expect to see them hosting a grand prix within weeks.

  45. @petermg

    I don’t know where you get your historical information which makes you well informed but most of us get the same information and then have to make a decision with less than all the facts. Opinions will differ after reading the same information. That doesn’t make people ill-informed.

  46. One small step rather than none at all.
    Issues cannot be fixed all at once but at least the majority of the F1 community can “get behind” the concept of something rather than nothing!!
    TBH, I do think the those with the “real say” would be terrified of agreeing in June to a Bahrain race and moving the schedule around, then at a strategic point in the Autumn the issue goes pear-shaped on the ground once again and those who run F1 end up, not only looking stupid and greedy but supportive of regimes who’s shelf lives are running out faster than a plate of schucked oysters!!
    One only has to look at the newly proposed trial in Egypt, the sequestering of personal fortunes of miscreant Arab Leaders various and the “NATO” military involvement in Lybia to realise that change is enevitable. If there is a caveat, it might be that we might not like what replaces what exists currently but that most certainly is not a matter for us!!

  47. Thank you for the article link Joe, the stuff about the staff at the circuit was definitely new info, at least to me.

    And as you say, the fact that the FT are choosing to highlight this is, in itself, important.

  48. I’ve just booked flights (and will be booking tickets when available for the Indian GP in October, which is when the Bahrain GP is slated to return should Ecclestone decide to fit it in. I’ll be miffed to say the least if India is displaced to accommodate a race in an undemocratic country that violates all sort of human rigfhts laws, just because Ecclestone wants to honour the contract. F1 doesn’t need 20 races, 19 is fine.

  49. Cris & Joe, I agree. Any country today would not be able to host a GP if they started shooting their people.

    What I don’t get – is the sense of urgency to hold this race.
    Is it really that important to get on the schedule.

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