Bahrain and Formula 1

So a bunch of Formula 1 people have got together at a function in London and have said that Bahrain is a fine place to go; that there are no real problems there and that the media is to blame for the current situation. They say that protests are just being caused by a few dozen disgruntled individuals and that one can be mugged or knifed in cities all over the world and that Bahrain is no different to many other places.

Wonderful. It is just a shame that the final doubts about the place were not swept away with invitations to the event for Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the two major human rights organisations in the world. If they had come to the party and said that all was well, then no-one would have any worries.

But since when was Bernie Ecclestone an expert in human rights? He knows how to make billions, and good for him, but I am not sure he is the right person to pass judgement on the political unrest inside Bahrain. Are we to believe that the tens of thousands who turned out on the streets a year ago complaining about the regime are now satisfied with the government of the country, particularly when they know from an independent report the things that the authorities did to people who opposed them?

I should add that I have no doubt that the race IS designed to bring hope to the country and that there ARE moves being made to make progress towards getting Bahrain back on the right track, but this does not mean that the opposition will just sit there and do nothing; nor that the authorities will not use excessive force to deal with anyone daring to disrupt the event. I stand by my belief that by going to Bahrain at this time F1 is putting its head into a noose and hoping for the best. It is also politicising the sport when it does not need to do so. And it is a huge risk because protest can come in many different forms. It does not have to be pitched battles on the streets. Protest can be blocking access roads to the venue, having a sit-down protest on the grid, or following the example of Fidel Castro back in the 1950s when his men kidnapped the World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio and held him prisoner until the race weekend was over.

I fervently hope that there will be no trouble because the sport does not need such bad publicity, but at the same time I do not think it is right for F1 to swan around giving the impression that all is well, if just up the road there are people trading tear gas, Molotov cocktails and bullets on account of the F1 circus being there.

Those who have the power (and the responsibility) to take decisions about the sport, have made their choices. They must now accept the consequences of those choices. The Formula One group decides on the calendar, and the FIA decides on what is good for the sport. If they get it wrong then the people responsible for those decisions must be held accountable.

110 thoughts on “Bahrain and Formula 1

  1. No one trusts Bernie on tax law let alone international human rights.

    I suspect that the race will pass peacefully given the ring of steel around it but I expect things might get a lot trickier outside the venues where the mass security cordon is not in place.

    Even China doesn’t need tanks outside a race track…

    1. There were a group of journalists invited by the Bahrainis, plus some team principals. I was invited but it was two days after I got back from Malaysia after two weeks away and it was in London. I live in Paris. Thus I gave my excuses. I have had long discussions with the Bahrainis over many months and this event ewas not going to change my view.

      1. I agree with your article, but also think that inviting yourself is a sign that this was not totally an easy PR dream with only positive questions being asked.

        I hope it all works out and believe F1 can be a positive “accelerant” for Bahrain’s image, but it is very risky. I’m pretty confident Bernie can spin it so that the risk is all on their side.

      2. Joe, your analysis is so much better. One of those journalists who also has a well-read and generally respected blog is most definitely singing from the hymn-sheet they handed out at the event. Your objectivity is to be admired and I get the feeling you will look outside the steel cordon when you are there. For that reason, this blog and/or GP+ will be required reading after the event.

      3. They’ve been lobbying you directly, have they? Not surprising I suppose… but all the more credit to you for the way you have covered the situation.

  2. Joe – I don’t know whether you’ve said or been asked previously but would be interested to know whether you plan on attending the Bahrain GP.

    You obviously have a view that F1 should not be travelling to Bahrain but will you or will you boycott the event and recommend others do the same?

    1. I will be there. It is my job to report on F1, thus I will go and report on things relating to F1, whatever they may be.

      1. I just hope there won’t be any reason to bring back “holiday pictures” like the ones Will Buxton made last year when they were shipped out with the GP2 crew.

        As you do, I fear there is no good that will come from this race. People will try and protest. Either they succeed and Bernie will be on TV saying how wrong that is.
        Or the government will ensure by all means that its “safe”, meaning a lot of people will get indicted, threthened or hurt physically.

  3. “Those who have the power (and the responsibility) to take decisions about the sport, have made their choices. They must now accept the consequences of those choices. The Formula One group decides on the calendar, and the FIA decides on what is good for the sport. If they get it wrong then the people responsible for those decisions must be held accountable.”

    Well said. I’m thinking of Adam Parr leaving Williams so suddenly, at the crucial time of the Concorde negotiations. This looks for all the world as if Williams have been forced to get rid of him and sign-up to some deal. This kind of menace – or at least shady dealing – may be commonplace in F1, but it has to stop. The utter and complete failure of anyone within F1 to offer any criticism of the governing bodies of F1 – we might call it an omerta – speaks volumes about how things are run. The scandals in cricket and football, not to mention the changes afoot in journalism following the Murdoch scandal, should be a warning to the FIA and FOM: just because things have been done a certain way for years doesn’t mean the police won’t come knocking at your door one morning. Even MPs have had to wake up and smell the coffee. I happen to know one former sponsor of F1 who says the risks, as well as the costs, of putting his firm’s name on the cars is simply too great now. A scandal would taint many brands, and see sponsors leaving in droves.

    Should F1 go to Bahrain right now? Almost certainly not (JS is spot on here), but more importantly, the question of HOW such decisions are made needs to be done differently. If F1 is to avoid the label of a mafia-type organization – a resemblance that seems more fitting each day – it must start to become more accountable and transparent – a process that should start today.

    1. I can see all the Twitter hashtags now, with sponsors names included, it could be embarrassing for them. Maybe we will see more cars looking like HRTs…

    2. “If F1 is to avoid the label of a mafia-type organization – a resemblance that seems more fitting each day – it must start to become more accountable and transparent…”

      I recall a quote from Bernie from several years back, responding to accusations that he and Max were like the mafia: “We aren’t like the mafia. We are the mafia.”

      1. So let me get this. Joe can justify away going for his list of personal reasons, beliefs and no doubt comercial interests, but the rest of the sport stands accused of being immoral by going.

        Why don’t you stand by the conviction you seem to have so eloquently presented here. One person can make a difference and all that.


        1. Bill,

          I do not know why you are so keen to stir up trouble. If you had read the blog a little more than clearly you have, you would already know why I am going. I have explained that in full, not so very long ago. You can read the article here. If you cannot be bothered to read it, allow me to give you the five minute version:

          “While I still feel that it is bad for F1′s image to be there and will be a disaster if things go wrong, I am going to go. I feel very strongly that it is actually my duty to be there and to see for myself. And to do my job. Boycotting the race might be a gesture, but a journalist does not become the story, he merely reports it.”

          1. Joe,

            No trouble intended, just pointing out that you appear to have justified to yourself why it’s still somehow ok for you to go. I’m suggesting that others have probably done the same thing – rationalised it away as being “their duty” to continue the show etc.

            It just comes out as a little off when you’re criticising a show that your going to be part of – reporters pass or not, you’re going to be part of the story just by being there. You can’t take the high moral ground in writing, but go along with the pack and not expect people to ponder the possible hypocrisy.

            For what it’s worth, I too hope this doesn’t backfire for F1 (and the people of Bahrain).


            1. Bill, before criticizing further, you might wish to study just a bit on the role and responsibilities of journalists.

              Surely, you can’t possibly believe that journalists cover only those events of which they approve. Otherwise, only warmongers would cover wars, and only those who favor starvation would cover those who are starving.

              The situation calls for a bit of perspective. Informed criticism is good, uninformed criticism, not so much…

          2. As there is another Bill posting on Joe’s blog, how would you know which Bill it really is? Or does it not matter? Time for a name change?

          3. Not that I want to judge you, and your decisions are your own, nor do I want to tell you what to do… but maybe you could give a little of the GP+ profits from the weekend to a charity that helps Bahrainis suffering from the human rights abuse? Not a huge amount, just enough to make a little statement, and so we all feel better about the situation. (I don’t want to put you on the spot, we all donate in our own ways, and you need to make a living!)

              1. I did think so and am honestly surprised it doesn’t! It should do! Maybe I’m over stepping the line- but how do you not earn a living from it? I always assumed it paid for your ability to attend all the GP’s, and the blog was you being nice and providing a little something free. For the wealth of knowledge you provide on the F1 circus and the detail coverage you give – you definitely deserve to profit from it. Given the level of abuse you take on here, you doubly deserve it! I hope you don’t take my comment negatively- my preconception was you enjoyed a healthy personal income from your work, but I guess that’s down to the money that flows around F1. In hindsight I was probably a little out of line suggesting what you do with your money, it is after all, yours!

          4. I don’t envy you for having had to make that decision. Personally, I would never dream of criticizing you (or any journalist) for deciding to go or not to go. There are risks either way, and it’s you (not I) who will have to live with the consequences. I wish you well.

        2. I’m sure the one kind of people the human rights groups DO want to be there is journalists!

          I wonder if Channel4 will give the even particular attention after their alleged snub by the BBC with regards sharing the F1 coverage!?

        3. Bill, can I ask if you’ll be following any of the Bahrain GP TV coverage? Will you make a point of avoiding the specialist F1 media outlets? Have you written to Energy Drinks companies, mobile phone service providers, car. Companies, banks etc objecting to their attendance at the GP? Have you then received intelligent, fair minded, thoughtful and well written justification from these people? I assume you have given the force with which you got stuck into a journalist on an open blog that has spend the last year marshalling the issues and analysing a serious matter with sensitivity?

        4. yeah, maybe all journalists should stop supporting repressive regimes by travelling to their couintries and filing accurate reports about what’s happening there, that’ll show em!!

        5. If Joe and others didn’t go, then the only story we’d get is reports from those keen to promote the party-line. I think it’s probably better to have an independent journalist go and see for themselves and report back what actually happens.

          But rather Joe than me.

  4. Too many vested interests for any sensible decisions to be made, in my view.

    F1 as an industry should be able to do much better than this, and so should the various Governments who issue travel advice etc.

    Not a place that I would ever want to go to, but collectively ‘we’ should be waiting for a proper and secure solution before running any races there again.

  5. Any word on the rumour from the Malaysia coverage rumour that well placed source has said Bahrain will not be going ahead?
    (Cant remember if it was the Sky feed or the Aussie commentator intro)

  6. Here is the current advice from the Foreign Office for British Nationals travelling to Bahrain.

    “There are ongoing demonstrations and protests across various parts of Bahrain. We cannot confirm where or when any such activity or resulting disruption will take place, but you should maintain a high level of security awareness, exercise caution, particularly in public places and on the roads, and avoid large crowds and demonstrations.

    The Government of Bahrain has imposed a curfew on the waterways around Bahrain between 18:00 and 04:00. You are strongly advised to respect the curfew.

    Passengers arriving at Bahrain Airport may experience long delays at immigration due to more stringent checks being carried out by officials. Also, the Bahraini authorities have indicated that visa requirements for foreign nationals, including British Citizens, may change soon. British visitors are advised to check the website of the Bahraini Embassy in London for updates.

    There is a general threat from terrorism in Bahrain. Terrorists continue to issue statements threatening to carry out attacks in the Gulf region. These include references to attacks on western interests, including residential compounds, military, oil, transport and aviation interests.”

    Sounds attractive, n’est-ce pas ? Don’t take the yacht, and be careful to avoid large crowds (insert own joke here).

  7. As always a good and objective analysis of the situation in Bahrain.

    What would the sport be helped on so many fronts if Bernie would finally retire. The only front that’s, maybe, negatively affected by his retirement would be the cash flow towards CVC. That man is in his pursuit for money so out of touch with the real world that there isn’t a thing that surprises me about him (Initially when the Mosley scandal was made public I was sure they made a mistake and meant Bernie because Bernie just fits the picture of an SM loving executive a lot better than Mosley does… in the end I was wrong but still I would not be surprised if more people thought that).

  8. What I thought was notable from the statements given from that meeting at the RAC club was that all those at the meeting would bear absolutely no responsibility if anything goes wrong, they would all shrug their sloping shoulders and say “it’s nothing to do with me”. Yet it is those very people who have made the decision to go.

    Let’s be clear, it’s about money not sport. There are plenty of other venues, but Bahrain has a lot of money invested in F1, mostly connected either directly or indirectly with the ruling family. They use F1 as a PR tool for their main business which seems to be banking.

    Bernie is now blaming the media and was quoted as saying “….the press should be quiet and deal with the facts rather than make up stories”
    Ah, if only Bernie could control the press, perhaps he should buy the Murdochs out. 😉

  9. Excellent summary of the situation – don’t let the real situation get in the way of the cash flow. Well said Joe.

  10. I think you are too generous to the other side of the argument in saying ‘I have no doubt that the race IS designed to bring hope to the country and that there ARE moves being made to make progress towards getting Bahrain back on the right track’.

    Bahrain has never been on the right track. There is revolt because the Sunni minority exploits the impoverished Shia majority. The political aim of the race is not to bring hope to the country but to cement the position of the ruling class by demonstrating ‘business as usual’. i.e., money talks as usual.

    That is why, by associating themselves with oppression, the teams, and even any fans that might be going there, could be setting themselves up as legitimate targets. Fortunately the opposition appear to be not terrorists but just pro-democracy protestors, so hopefully there might be no terrorism aimed at F1. Hopefully.

    ‘I stand by my belief that by going to Bahrain at this time F1 is putting its head into a noose and hoping for the best. It is also politicising the sport when it does not need to do so.’

    Here I completely agree.

  11. If F1 goes to Bahrain despite the warnings of terrorists, human rights organisations and governments, then they should be applauded for standing by their own decision. That takes real guts. And if by chance the race goes without disruption, F1 will be hailed as peace brokers who brought the nation of Bahrain together from the brink of chaos.

  12. Last September I was on an overnight flight from Bahrain to Paris on the national carrier. Fortunate enough to be seated in business class I struck up a conversation with the lady next to me. She was or is a human rights lawyer in Bahrain! her opinion was celar that both the rights of the people and in particular the rights of women in the region have been set back decades by recent actions. She showed me pictures taken in the streets of Bahrain. These showed large groups of women dressed in the hijab and burka. Apparently they roam the streets shouting at women who are not dressed the same as them.

    She was no apologist for the govt. either, far from it. But she was adament that Iran is behind it all and GP or no nothing will change until Iran gets its way. That being the representation of the majority in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

    My point is that I hope the GP goes well for the people/teams/drivers/fans but that the uprising is far from over. Just a pity the circuit is so boring…

  13. Pitpass article titled: Bahrain unable to guarantee safety.

    Just hope nothing goes wrong and no one gets hurt in anyway.

    Mr.Saward, am looking forward to your podcast, been awhile since the last one.

  14. Very well put Joe.
    As a travel secretary for one of the teams, it does not feel right sending the guys out to somewhere that has experienced so much trouble over the past year and if trouble does kick off while all the teams are out there, it is going to be a big job to get everyone out of there under the circumstances.
    The FCO travel advice is probably ok for individuals travelling to Bahrain, but once the F1 circus rolls into town, everyone’s feelings are that things could go from bad to worse. Of course we do not want any trouble and would like to Grand Prix to go ahead without any conflict, but just a view from my perspective.

  15. I read somewhere, I think it was James Allen’s blog, that Bernie claims not to be taking any special personal security measures. Presumably to persuade ordinary people that it is safe. Of course his idea of normal security is most people’s idea of Alcatraz. Try getting into the paddock in Monaco to understand the concept of “normal”, not even “special” security. We all know he is the master in disingenuity but this borders on blatant lying. I am horrified that the race is going ahead and think it should be boycotted, period, but I respect Joe’s reasons for going.

  16. I respect your decision Joe, and I am glad you take the effort to explain us why you go. I wish you and the rest of the Circus a safe time there, and I sincerely hope that the GP can really bring some hope and restore some pride to Bahrain and its people.
    By the way, when the right times comes to talk about more lighthearted issues, maybe you could elaborate a bit on Fangio being kidnapped?
    Looking forward to the report of the race and your report on the events that will come alongside the GP.

  17. I’m wondering – this make it all sounds like the F1 GP is the only international event (sport, concert, art, etc) going on in Bahrain since last year… is this the case?!

    1. You might be right. I believe there was to be an international golf tournament, but it was postponed. Other than that, I’ve heard nothing regarding large scale events in the country, but I may have missed something.

  18. Joe, time for you to censure some of the idiots on here who are ‘ willfully ‘ eager to have a pop at you ?

    Those of us with a mind fully understand your stance and subsequent reasons for going.

    Thanks as always for the time you take to share your passion with all of us.

    1. So censor (or did you really mean censure?) those who disagree?

      Either way, an unfortunate thing to argue for in a blog post concerned with a place like Bahrain where people are, generally speaking, not allowed to disagree either.

      Do you really want a blog full of “well said Joe” posts?


      1. If you are going to take the time to enjoy a free service that somebody offers, I think you should keep your negative opinions to yourself. If you were paying for it, then by all means you are entitled to share your opinion.

        But you do not have to be here, Bill. It seems as if you read this blog solely in an attempt to oppose the points that Joe makes.

        Everybody is entitled to their opinion… but if you were to come in to my home and criticize my selection of furniture and artwork… I would tell you to “get the f out”. This is technically a personal space for Joe. As he clearly states in his BLOG RULES… you are posting because he has given you a PRIVILEGE. You don’t have the RIGHT to say these things. You have a PRIVILEGE.

        1. I don’t think Joe has an issue with constructive criticism – please jump in an correct me if I’m off base here Joe.

          I think Joe has an issue with wild pot shots being taken just because Joe’s opinion differs.

          I know from previous posts that Joe has an issue with personal attacks.

          Just because its a blog doesn’t mean it can’t be kept civil and disagree or criticise in a constructive and respectful manner, just like you would face to face.

          Its a privilege to post and disagree and have sensible discourse. Again, jump in if off base here Joe, but I don’t think Joe has an issue with divergent opinions so long as they are handled in a civil manner.

          For what its worth if someone walked into my house and said “you’re furniture is crap” they’d probably be on the way to the door pretty quick. If though they said something like “have you thought about a different style/colour for you furniture because a lighter colour would help to make the room seem larger” I’d be willing to discuss the point.

        2. Spot on Dale. Bill can be taken seriously when he’s in a position like Joe’s and he lives his life out loud in public as Joe is here. Til then, just the usual ‘it’s easy to be an anonymous armchair critic’ of those handful who are walking the walk.

          Kudos again Joe re Bahrain. Clearest words yet. You’re the only person not speaking the party line I know of, other than Rob Widdows at Motorsport:

        3. Hold on there a minute Dale, I’m not in anyone’s home here. I’m visiting a public blog where the owner allows comments (even those that are disagreeing) from pretty much anyone. While I certainly don’t agree with *some* of what Joe writes, I do RESPECT that he allows open conversation about the topics he posts on.

          Closing that down, so we only see the “cheers Joe” stuff, while certainly Joe’s prerogative would change the dynamic here. That said, I fully accept Joe can censor (refuse to publish) anything I write here. If that happens, so be it.

          As for being negative, if you mean I’m being negative, because I have an opinion counter to your own (or Joe’s) on the Bahrain thing by saying criticising the show, while at the same time being part of it, doesn’t feel right to me – I’m a little bewildered at how that can be seen as negative. You don’t have to agree with me, that’s fine, but it doesn’t mean I’m posting negative comments.

          The problem here is while independent journalistic input from Bahrain is indeed a valid consideration, there’s no way of separating the attending journalists from the “F1 circus”. They’re seen as part of the circus turning up in Bahrain it’s not at all like (in my opinion) journalis reporting on some of the sad conflicts around the world.

          I’ll leave this here and only reiterate my wish that the event goes smoothly, not just for F1 but for the people of Bahrain.


          1. Joe isn’t “part of the show” he reports on it, there is a clear difference between a performer and observer. As a journalist it is right that Joe goes to the event and reports back what he finds. There are journalists in Syria right now risking their lives to tell us what is happening there, they don’t support the Assad regime by being there.

            1. Let’s agree to disagree on this. A see a clear difference between the journalists in Iraq, Syria, Afganistan (pick your war zone) and someone who follow’s the F1 circus around the world. I’m sorry, it’s chalk and cheese to me.

  19. Great article and interesting debate from us anoraks. I too wonder if those who shout “hypocrisy” will be tuning in to eat their own words. We need more people like yourself in the paddock Joe. All the tip toeing around “important” figures and PC reporting makes me ill.
    GL in Bahrain.

  20. “I stand by my belief that by going to Bahrain at this time F1 is putting its head into a noose and hoping for the best. It is also politicising the sport when it does not need to do so.”

    Exactly. Well said.

  21. If there are no big protests, I wonder if there’ll be some snarky banners and clever displays of protest in the grandstands. If so, wonder if fom will be clever with their camera use… Should be interesting to watch

    1. Bigger question is, will information about protests be allowed out of the country or will it be suffocated in the name of the GP?

  22. Joe, please be safe and god be with you, bahrain gp, its no brainer it should’nt go ahead its that simple…..joe great reveiw….

  23. A couple of things:

    1. You’re not a journalist risking your life reporting on an international crisis Joe. You’ve taken a decision to go to somewhere and report on a motor race. If Bahrain and it’s struggles were really important to you and on your agenda you’d be there now, trying to make a difference rather than commenting remotely and even refusing the opportunity to go in advance. I agree about your comments regarding Amnesty and HRW however. If transparency is important to Bahrain for its credentials then it’d be open doors. And it’s not. And whilst I don’t have an opinion on you going or not, I believe Bill in his comments above presents another POV which is no less valid than yours and I respect you for publishing those. But I tend to agree with Bill.

    2. Why are we all so hung up about Bahrain yet no one mentions the human right atrocities in China nor Malaysia? Not to mention questionable political/social structures in Singapore, Brazil or Korea out of this years schedule. China is a horrendously oppressive government but as the sport is not politicised there (like the Bahrain threat), everyone goes along with their head in the sand. I find that a bigger agenda issue than Bahrain which the anti-gov’t (regime) have at least had their message heard.

    As a sport F1 goes for the money over the human rights and it has always been the case. The dollar is the mitigating factor.

    1. The difference between Bahrain and China is very clear. In Bahrain the race has been politicised. It is very clear and very simple.

    2. Ever been to these countries Matt, spoken to the people, worked with their Governments, engaged with their industries ?


      Money’s not a mitigating factor, it’s the honey soaked cream.

  24. Great summary of the situation, thank you.

    I guess the many incestuous business relationships between Bahrain money, the teams, and Bernie, make a happy face painted over the current conditions inevitable.

    1. I think that GP+ is a fantastic product. The problem is that the average F1 fan does not know that it exists. If one cannot afford to advertise on TV, how does one tell F1 fans about it? Guess what? Racing magazines are not going to accept advertising from products that are going to kill them. So, it is left to word of mouth and that takes time. GP+ will make a profit when it pays for the full travel costs for those involved in the production for a season. That is still some way away. If those who love it spread the word then we can speed up that process…

      1. Joe – I’ve been reading your blog for a number of years and decided to subscribe this year. In my opinion, you are taking advantage of the new media revolution. Not that you need advice, but I would politely suggest continue doing what you are doing now. That is, take advantage of new innovations such as podcasts and the internet. Take the other sites as they are, just rehashing press releases, and concentrate on your niche. The true fans will see the quality and migrate across to eventually pay the premium for a premium product. I think James Allen has done a good job with his blog. But its easier when you already have an established media profile!

        I know you get criticism regarding your involvement with Caterham, but rightly or wrongly becoming a paid PR mouthpiece (not saying you are now) may be the only way for journalists to make a living.

      2. I’m sure you’ve considered it but google advertising, marketing affiliate schemes with other blogs/newsources and the occasional video podcast that gets hits on youtube are a lot cheaper than TV advertising and more likely to get conversion into sign-ups for an e-zine. If you paid for some google site advertising, quite a few of the unmentionable sites would end up carrying them without complaint as it’s an ad server they don’t control.

        Though I’ve no idea what you’re operating budget or margin is currently.

      3. Whoa, harsh on yourself, Joe.

        1. I am not sure your average F1 fan is always your market for GP+. Not just talking about my mom here. I just know people who would never read a F1 magazine are attracted to your features.

        2. There is tons of design polish to be applied the kind that can get out of hand badly when you have a production department – and trust me they always fluff that too. But you can dress a certain way for a certain ball without the maids and footmen.

        3. Buy advertising. Occasionally. If you can deal with TF for entertaining his passengers, get someone to chuck your latest copy into the FT on Friday. (A selection, sponsored, maybe). No need to genuflect and administer anything actually modified. Not very expensive for any party, FT and others like bringing business savvy news to their inserts.

        4. PDF is a pain, it almost always sorta works, but it is not a panacea, neither is the lovely landscape format. iPads and many other things are framenting everything like the early 90s home brew kits. Find who can do the translations well. Do you know all about how the ipad things scale content, and therefore are sure you are delivering what you think you are?

        5. You have no way for someone to pay to take just one copy, or browse something at random, all of which can be done, but i never wrote to you my research results because the supposedly neat web 2.0 style companies want to do lock in for revenue (Apple store style) and i thought that a non starter.

        6. Old GP+ articles are not searchable anywhere. Actually this one is readily fixable if crude and rude would help, just not sure that’s the interface anyone wants.

        7. Your blog has just acquired that awful “keep scrolling down for more” javascript thing which is refreshing the document object model and makes navigation back to relevant stories a bit harder. Make it easier for people to find connected content any which way.

        8. There is no easy way to skim through your blog to the relevant copy of GP+, severing the discussion of the time from the magazine, discussion often as not flowing from magazine. Be a nice loop to connect anyhow.

        9. Boring old one, but you don’t extend yourself out of this sphere. We are constantly debunking syndicated journalists who claim to know what they are on about. If anyone disbelieves me, see FW’s endorsement of Joe’s business newsletter. Scarbs put something up on Gizmodo, and i won’t suggest that, bit too random, but there are many other fora full of geeks who are affluent and love racing.Occasional outreach would not harm,

        10. Repeating myself, but no way to test a month or two and access the back issues, assuming credit card paid for similar to a news-stand magazine price. You need a way to get people hooked, and then a way to sell them the usual subs. You will not have all loyal customers who never would dream to “share” their archives forever.

        11. (too lazy for the obvious references going to 11) if you let out a portion of your old copy, say at a year distant, onto one of the flash / PDF based sites who can link to advertisers on the fly, and cut that back to your blog in links, you build page views numbers these people trust. Yes that goes against my objection above, but it is doable and a functional start which would bring some revenue.

        12. (going for it) I got very obsessive that none of the COTS (common off the shelf solutions) work or tie you in, and so something better needs to be built. But i could easily imagine a simple layout for the blog that would bring content from GP+ forward, that would allow one or at least fairly simple click payments to get a taste, that presents all of this, and that as a single site can be searched by someone who cares to stick around. Without spoiling your blog. This is where i had to skive off, as ran out of time, but i think it possible with less effort than I first thought. I had imagined prototyping a “searchGPplus” kind of site to just see if that worked, if allowed to do so, to point to the good things, but just a test would have required me to ask that i could do it. Well, i could just do it, but I think the big search engines are too avaricious about utilising original writing for their own ends, so i would approach differently. Actually I think they have become their own victims, as search results are a constant effort against spam. That could be drastically reduced here.

        13. Okay, 13, anyone about here fancy a crack at any of the tech side of this, say this early summer? I’m hiring for another project, but that is starting slow at the moment, so this could be having some fun in the meanwhile, definitely a experiment but properly done because i have some overlap. Incidentally, if you can explain what you are doing, i don’t care what programming language you like to use, this is not HPC and cycles are available to test things out. But don’t think I am any kind of guru, I just know enough not to burn myself. There is no reason not to pull e.g. selected GP+ material related to every blog post, and then some connexions via Joe cyclopaedia, and then more. Take it simply: just a simple “context box” for everything there, and a way to buy articles for a teaser rate (with adverts, all online) and hand that back when a full GP+ is subscribed. All adland care is how many views, none of this changes Joe’s subscription income for the worse. I wish we could go back to non javascript pages on one originating site it is possible to verify, but that is just not the case any longer. What would you like to see from an archive, right hand side besides the discussions?

        I’m simply wondering if any of the above might stick to the wall, so forgive me, because I am making no presumptions at all how GP+ wants to be run. But some of the above could be prototyped, and then there are interesting ways to link in advertisers via their systems which i do need a refresher on (I deal in print, bear with me) . The alternative is awful racing “portals” and look at them, they really date from when Netscape charged thousands processor (I forget who they bought to get their “portal”) but here you could start with original content aplenty as a lexicon, and use that to patch in many more links. There’s a rather nice advantage to the GP+ copy, also, because you’ll not have to cull all the repetitive press release material that stuffs other publications, so chances of getting good results are at least simplified, even if you think that bit trivial. Simple wish: that there was some way to click on a most likely link to the magazine articles from this blog, and as a subscriber be logged in straight away, and pull the page in my browser. Some of that obviously could be done advertising supported, for non subscribers, but I’d need a way to have it all synced for the ad feed to that e.g. so that a single advertiser could take the lot or a pleasant rotation, no flash ads, printable resolution. You heard me, if I have been logged in to help my mom online, I do not want to have profiled adverts of a girly mini coupe presented to me. I want something relevant to real racing. (and no, my mom does not need HRT except them to go a bit faster . . ) If you print a two page freebie article, why should not the third middle page be for a Cadillac? These are things worth attempting to iron out, because the way I see it, all the online advertising is simply pushed by ignorant buffoon algos and does not a blasted thing to help a publisher run their ad inventory. I want instead a pull and then a cull from metadata. I don’t say for a moment this is trivial, but I want to hear from you if you think this is a good thing to try in general.

        All just off the top of my head, but this has been nagging me as a pet project plan for a long while, and I am definitely hiring into this summer for something rather similar.

  25. Who knows whats happening in Bahrain. Nobody can really say its wrong to go because of reports on UK media. They might be bias or they might be plain wrong.

    At least if Joe Saward goes we might actually know what really is happening happening. He’ll give a fair refection of the truth I think – unlike when he writes about Schumacher 😉

    Best reserving judgement until the Monday after the race.

      1. we need a fluke, and then a lifelong script for vallium,


        Still Likes Schumi Just Only When He’s Chasing

      2. I think it’s fair to suggest it. I just don’t think it’s age specifically. I think the formula is just too different to schumachers preferences and he’s never been as adaptable as say alonso who is a freaking chameleonic driver. I suspect if we had unlimited testing and tyres built to his requirements again Schumacher would drastically improve his results. I don’t think he’ll win another WDC but I may be in the minority in saying that his competition in the past few years is a lot higher than during his glory years.

        But I think everyone has a right to an opinion and as a journalist who knows a lot more about the sport than I do I respect your opinion. Same with your views on Bahrain though there it seems a lot more people agree with you generally.

  26. Question to all:

    If Joe does not go, who do you trust to report?

    Joe does this on his own penny. Name another.

    Now if you want to protest, i submit to you a sharp weapon: The Fax Machine.

    Call up saying you need urgently to get a critical contract just signed back to a sponsor. You can refuse to be drawn, because that is standard practice on important deals. Then send a proper letter. You may have to work out some names first, but since you are doing this once off, go for the most senior finance guy.

    Never tell whoever picks up the phone anything. Nobody serious calling cold would do that, never.

    If particularly upset about this race, concentrate on potential, not existing sponsors, who signal far more effectively to deal brokers the market.

    So i’ve a fair Q, and you have something better to do than harrangue Joe.

    I have reason to believe my arguments are effective. Make yours as effective.

    – john

    1. But J(oJ), you are assuming that the folks you are addressing are motivated to do more than take uninformed potshots here.

      Good of you to think the best of people, can you teach me how? 😉

      Also, while it may not be pleasant to read, it’s good that Joe continues to display a great deal of tolerance for disagreement. AFAIK, the only time he censors is when faced with repeated instances of someone being rude…

      1. I would gladly tell you how to think the best of people always, RShack. Not in jest, either. My pop always ran the same little story: two men walk down the street, and one says “hey! look, see that muddy puddle” and the other says “no, friend, i only see the reflection of the sky”. Dad said that to me so often I failed to see the mud when it clung to my boots, but i never let up on seeking the beautiful reflections. Maybe I just had some weird ones, early on, a merc bust in tears holding on to me because Whitney Houston was playing and he was dun in for his wife he missed, so i spanked my account for a few gs and we went, and he saw, and years later he made a point to pay me back. By calling my ex directory home number i changed along with my address many times since then, as he was landing . . even tough Colombians have honor to floppy haired geeks like me. I’ve more, though. I grew up with a blessing of well to do parents and a nice school. They did a thing: they all twisted me to never look down on the world. Only reason I get on about this is I really could cry for the times goodwill got spat back at me. But I can’t count those. Why measure something no good?

        1. I was expecting either nothing or perhaps some pleasant banter, but you surprised by provided such a nice story about your Dad and puddles. Thanks for that, I will remember it.

          1. I am never sure whether my Dad told me stories he made up nor not. He could write, but flirtation with the communist party as many his generation on the “literary left” did, until they mostly sussed that out, caused him to be censored just for that, before he even got going. The sad fact is that the entirety of his considerable output was lifted from our family home by my step siblings who had no claim upon them. Save one short play, very very deliberately marked for me, which he wrote just as the war was ending. I’m a ninny with filing systems, but when i come across it, I’ll OCR it ad put it up somewhere, because it is a very sweet reverie. Just exactly not the fighting spirit encouraged on the radio at the time. These radio plays (many recorded and never broadcast) paid for my step sisters immense, almost ruinous, medical bills (the public health service did not quite exist then) and later cushioned my education (though that took my Uncle’s money to meet, an incredible cost). But they were the way he coped with a manic depressive wife, who I think was his only love and also his dance partner, the dining room was filled with silverware from their time (aussi disparu) who suffocated herself on the gas. My step siblings had no place nor right to remove and deny either I nor my mother these extensive copyrights, nor would they know what to do with them, and a body of work may have been destroyed. Still surviving is my Dad’s writing on Squash. Not of personal interest enough to snatch, I guess, but didn’t stop my other lot trying to sell the rights to this they do not own, sub rosa, I only found that out weeks ago. This theft, because it is a theft, even conducted by violating a police cordon, I even believe the only way they could have arrived so swiftly was by private plane, because my father died subsequent to a fall, and had picked some interesting enemies in his later years, or rather the repercussions of it, have been terrible, and neither are they over. I believe they wanted to bury what they imagined were their own memories, clearly painful to them, and to deny me or anyone else. My Dad was a irrepressible optimist, the kind that may only be grown out of blessed circumstances, or in his case, poverty and illegitimacy (a serious matter then requiring I believe his elder step brother to forge some papers to get dad to a school) and social ostracism including from his religion. Yet possessed of a temper borne out of frustration with all human frailties, which I did inherit, but went to extremes to restrain in me, successfully, I recall as a young teen I managed to deeply upset my brother in a split second and few years later I could never take my temper seriously, and bust out giggling every time I got the spark. We are all, primarily, silly human beings, fragile and engorged brittle with our own self estimation. A not atypical afternoon when I still went to a school which sent us home for homework at a early hour, you might find he’d trapped a priest, or accosted some young thing, and was deep in seance with them, challenging their beliefs and assumptions about the world they saw. It was always someone else’s world he was interested in, not his own, and that can be understood from his losses. From him I learned it is best to believe in Man, even when that is the least appealing prospect. As a erstwhile effect, I gained a habit, also, of testing priests and rabbis and any man of religion, and recall the new priest at my prep school sighing that I had been placed on earth to unravel his faith. But sadly, for whatever reason, my dad’s best work, even his diaries of my childhood, have been spirited away, and I think that a loss to the world beyond me. I don’t forget, not a bit of it, however, and try to pass on what always felt good. If you believe, and I am not sure anything makes sense, that I was denied the writing my dad devoted his sleepless night to because of jealousy or some reason to protect my siblings, the only way I got to see my sister in adult life, only the other year, was by explaining that all he talked about every day was absolutely everything to do with them, what he had seen and experienced, and that maybe my siblings omitted to consider that as a retiree, our days were not circumscribed by demand of routine, i had all his concentration, and from the moment I woke to when I slept, well he was there talking with me. Forgive me, I’ve let myself get a bit upset. You either laugh or cry, was one of his verbal ticks, too. So I choose to laugh. What a silly thing to do to explain all this and think suddenly, “but there must be _some_ formula one reference I can make!”. Yup, pop never went to see Rosemeyer drive when he could have and was living thataway, so I am forever disappointed in him! Oh, and despite that sacrilege, pop did get me watching the races even if for the strangest of reasons! All best, RShack, yours – j

  27. cold or warm calls, i mean, let alone hot. Might have scribbled this here before, but it is mine: “If you’re explaining, you’re loosing.” Just try, doesn’t come easy, but write to the right number, amazing who can be on the end, unfiltered. Don’t get angry, boy i see frustration out here, get even. Only my book says even means not being brushed off, as opposed to eye for eye. Promise you, you will feel better. Maybe look for the non obvious names on a board, older the better. I’d give out my cold call playbook if i wasn’t re testing it, but no way am i astray. People who control big businesses are very often charmed by who truly wants to engage them. Have faith, rise above PR anticipation, and common argument, choose who you want to speak with, ignore anyone not in their late years unless you are pitching a sham. Try. What heck is going down is not the plaything at all of men my generation, and by this blog, I am a Semi Old Fart.

  28. I would like to throw another point of view into this bear pit.

    People with wealth believe that anything can be bought and that their wealth can gloss over a lot of things. Perhaps it is so with Bahrain.

    Here’s the thing. I agree with Joe that the race has become politicised and on that basis alone, going there in 2012 could be a Rubicon that should not be crossed since it sets a precedent for every race that follows. Whether there is trouble or not its a worrying precedent.

    Bahraini opposition are being provided with the capability to get their message onto the world stage in so much easier a manner with a GP being staged. The government knows it also.

    This is a volatile mix.

    Add to this the fact that the Bahraini government are going to be loathe to ‘blackout’ communications in the country if something goes wrong because the global press will be up in arms and, while I really hope I’m wrong, there’s a greater potential for something to happen.

    Worse yet, all you need is a ‘lone wolf’ like the one who tragically shot French soldiers and children in Toulouse and the potential risk is yet higher.

    The equation of civil unrest + global sporting event + high level of international visitors x global media coverage = an ugly, dangerous situation.

    The safe way out would be to pass on the event again and see what happens next year.

  29. Well, for the first time in a long time Formula One has become embroiled in global politics. It was bound to happen and you get the feeling this has nothing to do with money, the Bahrain Government are possibly underwriting the costs so FOM/CVC will not lose out financially.

    There has been an enourmous amount of instability across the entire region recently. Perhaps this moment presents an opportunity for all involved in the Spring cleaning and the Formula One media to show it like it is…

    All the very best.

  30. I’m fairly sure that Bernie would consider “a few dead protesters” to be be things that “won’t get in the way.” You don’t get to make billions by siding with the oppressed; though you might sell them stuff, of course.

    1. I think “a few dead protesters” would be the last thing that Bernie would want.

      While, personally, I don’t think he’s made the best business decisions regarding F1, I do know this, he’s a smart guy. As a smart guy he knows that “a few dead protesters” would do the image of the sponsors absolutely no good and that represents a far greater threat to the stability of F1 than any financial shenanigans around the upcoming Concorde agreement.

      So while I think Bernie is taking a huge risk in going to Bahrain because of the potential trouble that could erupt, I strongly doubt that he’d consider dead bodies in the street to be something that ‘won’t get in the way’.

  31. I have a lot of faith, RShack, and i reckon the good comes out in the wash.Saying go here or go there is not even what i’d say to my kids, if they were my own, said that anyhow to eho is a fine woman anynow. But pointing a direction. That get’s ’em going, if they care. Why not say how, will always be a heart who strikes it. Need just one or two, and a couple others being there not only to hold the strap. I don’t have nout to give save “don’t do that, Son!’” Wish i had one to tell. Hear, hark, not a bad thing people get angry others hide their fears, become nothing because of someone elese’s pity. Tell them, stuff all that, we’ll do better because. Love, j

    1. Points well taken.

      For myself, I continued to offer do-and-don’t direction to the young’uns, despite knowing from my own story that once they achieved the state of developmental psychosis known as adolescence they would be unlikely to listen beyond finding what to oppose. The hope was that the gist would sink in for later reference, even if the temporal particulars were ignored out of hand. Wonder of wonders, they all turned out grand, which tells me I didn’t do too much accidental damage. They even seem to have bought my boring repetition about how they should do what they will be proud of later, rather than whatever seems the best release in the moment. Too bad I can’t always practice what I preach(ed).

      As my Dad reported as his own realization upon reaching 70, “parenting isn’t something you succeed at, it’s something you survive.” I can only add, “and perhaps learn from as well.” The daughter who died far too young from a dread long disease went about that final part with such strength and grace that she surely taught me more than I ever taught her. Not my blood, but my big thrill was that she felt both lucky and proud that I thought of her as my own. A bit non-standard having one’s stepchild as a role model. We all stumble along as best we can, being true as best we are able. At present, one of my ambitions is to become more like my dog. All the best to you, my friend.

      1. Do and don’t simply never worked with me in my teens. But that was also luck, our home was a kind of English Florida, retirement coast, where almost everyone I met, or rather their wives, missing their children and grandchildren who might rarely visit, cooed over the “nice young boy”, who sadly not much later became tired of his Nice Young Boy reputation. I was treated so well, hardly ever needed anything told to me. Oh, then girls and hormones and rock bands. Ooops!

        I married very young, and from my wife inherited a step daughter (not so young we’re talking reality TV here, my wife was my elder by 8 years) when she was 5. Didn’t need any other kids. The father lost in the mists of time, I have really little idea how, but he may have been hazed pretty bad in the army, and flunked mentally. I never pressed it. But having her to look after impressed me deeply. I actually do look up to her because she’s taller than me, but I am devoted to Anna. Good kid, absolutely always a good kid, i mean preposessed of her own sensibility, obviously no longer a kid at all but i am still chuffed to bits and a bit ashamed instead at my own self in comparison. I’m so sorry to hear how things were different with you.

        I don’t know about parenting for myself, I mean of my own, but I notice the bemused and pleasant “oh my!” shocked expressions now permanent on my contemporaries who have just got around to that. You shouldn’t be thinking about such things at the tip of 40, i do think, too close a call. My mom was older when i was born, and is shook her up health wise far too much. Who I love is older than me, enough of a difference I don’t rate any chance I’ll be a parent biologically. Those are painful conversations. Last of male line, me, too.

        What a funny world we live in. Thank you RShack, for taking me out of my shell and reminding me that it’s a simple thing to say you care, and a very hard thing to truly care for others. And thank you Joe for permitting this exchange. I shall return to my usual annoying geek self soon as poss! Take care RShack, all best from me. yours ever, – john

  32. Joe, that was an excellent post.

    I’ve always wondered what it would be like for an F1 driver to need treatment from a doctor who’d been punished for treating protesters in 2011.

    1. I suspect a lot of “news” sites get their news from here. I am not actually saying they are being underhand or plagiarising, but instead observing that when I am not beholden to a conviction on the subject, i find it almost never a wrong idea to follow Joe’s drift. Not everything Joe writes is “above the line” in the sense of explicit news, but if you read between the lines, there’s signals I think are very clear. Therefore, reading here can be a very accurate barometer, sufficiently accurate I’d say to persuade a churnalist to write a new story contradicting their earlier.

      I forget her name, but there was a Dow Jones reporter who covered the money markets and she was widely appreciated for her talent at implying the real drift and gist of her cables in a almost (as perceived by lustful traders) sensual fashion, her prose actually conveying the message more thoroughly because she could command the intonation of her language. Not many develop their writing ability this far, or for that matter recognise the rich potential.

      This is also why irregular readers of this blog often seem perplexed as to what is meant. We all value plain talk, but mainly in theory, consider any difficult chat you ever had with your spouse for one example of when gentle direction beats blunt remark. At a cruder level, it’s always fun to get the “Aha!” moment when the penny drops. At a very practical level, whenever you are in continuous contact with any person or for that matter a deal, you usually find that conversation starts to follow a pattern of inferences rather than statements or suggested conclusions rather than predictions. We’re all sensitive to that gentle beat, but many professions don’t take one to the same plane of sensitivity, and in daily life sadly we’re often at a loss to convey even trivial information effectively.

  33. Girls, Girls!

    Enough of the bickering already.
    Surely not a question of whether anybody should attend Bahrain GP but why in tarnation is it being held there at all.
    The decision to cancel last year was correct and the decision to cancel 2012 is also the right decision.

    Don’t say we didn’t warn you Bernie.

  34. Are the teams that much the tail to Bernies dog? If the teams called Bernie into a room and said “No Bahrain” what could he do?

    No cars = No race

    In my opinion a major portion of Bernies paycheck is earned by attracting the heat to him and not the teams.

    1. Sort of go with that Steve

      Can you imagine the need to supress the news coming out of Bahrain if it does kick off with the teams locked into the circuit and tanks back on the street. Perhaps having to clear the way through the streets to get the teams to the airports.

      That’ll go down well

    2. If the teams called Bernie into a room and said “No Bahrain” what could he do?

      Not pay them 1/20th of their monies due that year. Just what every team’s budget needs!

      1. Frankly, if I were a sponsor I’d offer to make up the shortfall, so as to protect my name from unhappy association. I don’t see that as interference with separate contracts the teams have to turn up for the race, but rather I believe it could be drafted as a performance bonus clause for whoever actions by my sponsored team align themselves with my own concerns for my brand. In fact it would be fairly simple to implement, contractually, though I’ll not speak for the details because I am not privy to how the contracts behave contango, nor shall i speculate how such a provision could be interpreted and brought into effect. But if widely adopted the idea could potentially be presented as support for ethical goodwill in the sport. In other words getting more and better PR out of just having that provision known to be there. It could be better than that, because I believe a good deal of fans would look well on any system which increased the independence of the teams. Whenever you think how to handle a brand,or for that matter any deal, it can or at least should only ever be constructed in a positive manner. This is why you won’t hear, publicly at least, any sponsor expressing concern over this race or any comparable situation. Imperfect as my proposal may be, it’s positive in outlook, not negative.

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