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!

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Top 20 Great Drivers

When I ran this post via my sounding board, a man of over 30 years experience watching Motor racing across the world, including Monaco, Interlagos and Donnington, this was his response.

“What? No Kimi? It can’t be! What about Brundle? He beat Senna in F3 1983! And what about Lauda? Fittipaldi? Piquet? Vettel? Rob you can’t post this, you have to put one of the Schumacher’s in. And you can’t include Mike Hawthorn, you just can’t.”

So with a little tweaking, TheTyreWall as a collection of opinion has found its 20 most highly rated drivers of F1 from 1950 to 2010.

  1. Jim Clark  –  The Farmers Son
  2. Ayrton Senna  –  The Soul of Racing
  3. Stirling Moss  –  The Underdog
  4. J.M. Fangio  –  The Godfather
  5. Jackie Stewart  –  The Safety King
  6. M. Schumacher  –  The Stat King
  7. Gilles Villeneuve  –  The Potential
  8. Alain Prost  –  The Professor
  9. Fernando Alonso  –  The New Millenium Professor
  10. Lewis Hamilton  –  The Spitfire
  11. Alberto Ascari  –  The Maestro
  12. Graham Hill  –  The Pilot
  13. Phil Hill  –  The Gentleman
  14. Jack Brabham  –  The Team Owner
  15. John Surtees  –  A Knight of Wheels
  16. Jochen Rindt  –  The Lost Champion
  17. Alan Jones  –  The True AussieGrit
  18. Stefan Bellof  –  The Missing Champion
  19. Keke Rosberg  –  The Flying Finn
  20. James Hunt  –  The Playboy

Clark takes top spot for being the Farmers Son in a sport full of rich kids, and beating everyone. Moss get’s ahead of the Fangio because of his unflinching loyalty and morals. Stewart then pip’s Schuey to round out the top five on the ground of his safety work and the countless lives his work has indirectly saved.

Villeneuve is catapulted to 7th way ahead of a similar Bellof due to a few marvellous drives in circumstances always set against him. Alonso is ranked ahead of Hamilton who does make it to the top ten as I predict these two will be battling at the top for years to come.

Ascari was possibly the main catalyst in the growth and fanatical mentality of the tifosi, inbeing the last Italian World Champion. The Hill come in line astern, both gentlemen of their era and fine brave pilot’s, literally in Grahams case. Next the original and greatest owner/driver, followed by the only king of two and four wheels.

The final five is where a great many names hit the cutting room floor. No Mansell, Hakkinen, Piquet or Vettel. These final few to round off the grid show that it’s not just about the racing craft and skill that make a great F1 pilot. Sometimes it’s a youthful impatience, Bellof, or all out aggression, Jones. And sometimes it’s about failing to keep a safe distance from the glamour of the off track perks; not that I blame him.