F1; Go to Bahrain

There’s a huge amount of traffic on Twitter conversing about the ethical and political repercussions of hosting a race in Bahrain in 2011.

After having watched the Senna movie and taken many a beautiful phrase; one of which “F1 is too much politics”, I have to wonder where the ‘real racing’ is? Is it in go karts like Senna suggests? And are we resigned to this fact? Or as a fan base could we unite and keep the ‘real racing’ in the pinnacle of the sport?

Bahrain has had a lot of media coverage of late, since its rise from a dusty oil town, to a financial meltdown, and now it seems the entire nation rioting in the capital city clambering for equality or democracy or something, reportedly.

Ok, so ‘civil unrest’ is the big term thrown around. Well, we’ve encountered this before; does South Africa ring any bells? Well it shouldn’t, as its far removed from this scenario.

South Africa had an issue with Racism, on mass. This was rightly tackled head on at the time and later resolved. Bahrain’s wish for a regime change isn’t a global issue. The apparent wish reported by ‘media sources’ is based upon the Western belief that all Middle Eastern countries are backwards, neglected and dumb, oppressed by rich Sheikhs .

This belief is where the illusion falls flat, the people of Bahrain aren’t dissimilar from myself writing this on a second hand laptop or you reading this on a brand new iPad. We work long hours and pay bills and complain about the government, heck sometimes we even let the students riot to keep Cameron & co on their toes. But F1 never tells Silverstone it isn’t visiting this year, in fact it gave it a 20 year contract!

The Bahraini’s similarly have done all the same, paid taxes, worked hard, let a minority kick up some dust on Capitol Hill, and suddenly its “unstable” because the foreign reporters based there have got all excited over a few tanks rolling around the street. Throwing the words ‘warzone’ and ‘gunshots’ into a report; email to New York, and suddenly the big ‘S’ word comes into play, Safety.

Okay, I’m drifting, but let me put it very simply. What Bahrain is going through right now is no global issue when you compare other countries that hold races without any raised eyebrows or calls for F1 to make a “political statement”.

In 2001, America was unforgettably attacked and thousands murdered. Did we cancel their race? Nope.

Korea, is a country so messed up that its actually split in two and has extreme military presence along its entire “Berlin Wall”, do we cancel a race there? Nope, we build a brand new track and gleefully embrace it.

And China. Who for reasons you all know, I cannot accuse of anything. But there’s a heavy veil over China’s billion-strong population and every year this veil is lifted to allow in the world to see in a carefully controlled demonstration that it’s not all bad, and they are a jolly bunch capable of hosting an exciting race for the world to watch and admire.

So why are we making an example of Bahrain? Is it a warning shot to the bigger fish out there that F1 needs to fry?

Senna says F1 is too much politics. And here we are, 17 years on, and nothing has changed. How has F1 become this political tool? And how can we wrench our beloved sport from the hands of money grabbing politicians?

The answer, from what I know, is Go to Bahrain. Race, and show that nothing is wrong at all.

In the words of the over dramatic, the show must go on, so, ON WITH THE SHOW!