It’s no secret I thought going to Bahrain was a bad idea. And I’ll say in the aftermath that I’m pleasantly surprised there wasn’t more negative consequences, starting with more people being killed in demonstrations or activities related to Formula 1’s being in the country.
That said, F1’s going there won’t make me quit watching the sport. It’ll make me rethink it, make me not plunk down any money soon on the sport (ah, we’ll hit a tough decision later this year, no?) and generally not feel great about being a fan.
Time to figure out what the heck cricket is all about, maybe?
I’m not quite there. But a story in Autosport today that is, essentially, a litany of team bosses whining and bitching about the media’s coverage of the situation in Bahrain — that sets me off.
Let’s be clear to everyone in a position to decide things in the sport: You decided to go. Team mechanic? You didn’t, and I’m sorry if it was a rough week. But team principal? I don’t care about your sponsors, I’m afraid. If you couldn’t take the heat, don’t go to the desert where there is a virtual fire raging.
Here are the various quotes from that Autosport piece. Oh, and online at least it is headlined: “Formula 1 teams criticise media for ‘politicising’ Bahrain Grand Prix.” Give me a break.
Lotus team principal Eric Boullier told AUTOSPORT: “I should not say it, but the media did not do for me what they should have done.
“There are various issues, which are up to the country to fix. But there are issues in every country, even in England, France and other European countries, and the over-dramatisation was definitely wrong.
“F1 is a sport and should be seen as a sport. We also know that it is very important for Bahrain to have this event, it is their biggest event of the year, and F1 should not be used as a political tool.”
Oh, I’m sorry Eric. The media is supposed to just make things easier on you. Do you need them to tuck you into bed at night and sing you a lullaby?
On the possibility that the coverage could turn off potential sponsors:
Boullier said: “It is their choice, but politics is never good to mix with sport.
“We have enough inside our paddock. We don’t need to bring what is going on outside in, and that is what the media did. The media brought the external politics inside the paddock and that is not good.”
The media didn’t do it. The media were telling the story, and that story was more about the external politics.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said his outfit did not spend much time worrying about how the event was being reported. But he feels that F1 should not have been forced into the political arena.
“It is difficult because you see an awful lot of enthusiasm for Formula 1 in towns and areas of the country,” he said. “It is not right for Formula 1 to be dragged into a political debate. And of course it is deemed to be political if you race and it is deemed to be political if you don’t.
“So our focus has been on coming here to do a job and getting it done and I am delighted to say that we have.”
Horner sets me off less, but he’s naive, stupid or lying (in my opinion) to say that F1 shouldn’t be dragged into a “political debate.” You shouldn’t tie the sport up with highly controversial and politicizing figures then. Why not tell that tale to Bernie Ecclestone?
Finally, word from Force India:
Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley, who had to withdraw his team from practice two because of safety concerns from his staff about travelling at night, said that there were positives that came out of the weekend.
“I am probably quite surprised by it all, because I believe irrespective of the criticism and some of the issues we have had, it puts Bernie [Ecclestone] and Jean [Todt] in a very visionary position,” he told AUTOSPORT. “They have delivered F1.
“For the Bahraini authorities – they have laid themselves bare to the world’s media. If that is not transparency, what is?
“There have been issues, and all sorts of things that we could improve on for next year from an F1 point of view, but F1 should not be about looking back with regret. It should be quite proud of what it has done because the solution now for the politicians in Bahrain is there.
“They now need to get into a dialogue away from F1 – and the fact that F1 was brave enough to go there, and the leadership was strong enough to do it, good for them.”
They laid themselves bare to the world? I guess so, in the sense we got to hear reports of the government detaining people, torturing them and otherwise instilling something just this side of marshall law in order to keep the race from turning into a real news story.
I’m not naive enough to think this will be a permanent black eye for F1. Things don’t work that way and people have short memories. Most people, anyway.
And that’ll be my last thing on Bahrain for a long while.