Politicians are never slow to spot an opportunity and it is clear from some of the opinions being expressed in the UK media that there are questions about Bahrain and whether or not it is a good idea to hold the event. The F1 industry is largely a British phenomenon and thus there is more interest in such things than there is in France or Italy where the reporting is generally restricted to subjects that interest the locals. The British Government is not warning people to stay away from Bahrain, but it is listing all the protests and suggesting things that visitors can do to avoid getting into trouble.
Last week the British Foreign Secretary Williams Hague said that it is up to F1 to “assess the security situation in Bahrain and also to decide politically if they want to go”. There is an implication in that statement that should not be missed. Hague made it clear that there is a political dimension to the event that takes it beyond the spheres of sport and security.
Now the British Shadow Foreign Secretary (the opposition party’s spokesman on foreign affairs) has said that the race should be cancelled.
“F1 bosses should call off the scheduled Bahrain Grand Prix,” he said. “To go ahead at present risks sending the wrong signal at a time when the authorities in Bahrain should be focused on delivering real reform.”
The international human rights organisations are continuing to try to stop the event.
The Bahrain government maintains that all is well. The FIA agrees.