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Hill backs Bahrain, but insists could have been better handled

"For me, the FIA was dangerously close to appearing totally naive, misinformed or, worse, taking the side that would like to underplay the humanitarian, social and security situation in Bahrain. Sure enough, the international community has had quite a lot to say about what is going on in Bahrain since. This was so inevitable that I am still trying to understand why the FIA did not take the initiative by making at least some comment that indicated it understood the difficulty of the situation."

Hill appears to hold FIA president Jean Todt culpable for not doing something to help alleviate the feeling of discomfort, as the Frenchman's only noticeable contribution to the debate was to okay the announcement confirming the event would take place.

"This I find baffling," Hill continued, "Surely it is possible to condemn acts of inhumanity without taking a side? The [ruling] Khalifas asked for the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) themselves. Is it political to avoid religious, political and racial discrimination? Surely these are universal human values?

"I'm sure it would have been possible for the FIA to find the words to raise the sport up to the higher ethical plateau described by Nelson Mandela who said: "Sport can create hope where once there was only despair." Instead, with nothing said, what we have are a political issue, a security issue and an issue over the sport's reputation. Could this situation have been avoided? Possibly not. Could it have been ameliorated? I believe so."

While debating the situation, Hill concluded that the least F1 could have done was to have made some sort of statement regarding the reasons for its decision to stage the race without appearing to be politically tied to one side or the other.

"F1 has to take advice from those who are better qualified, but they must also be independent and have no conflict of interests," he suggested, "More importantly, the FIA has to keep F1 and its personnel safe from the world's tricky little traps, one of which is political, but the other is ethical.

"There is nothing in the FIA statutes that says the body cannot provide ethical guidelines. What is the overriding objective of this 'sport'? Is it to unite different political factions, or to display the potential of mankind and to inspire the young to take up a challenge from which they will learn about themselves and the world? Does F1 not show that humans are capable of extraordinary ingenuity and cunning, without resorting to disrespect for the rules of the game? Does it not show that some things are more valuable than money? We can always hope.

"I supported Todt's decision to go because I felt we should all go with our heads held up, knowing why we are there and what is expected of us. To prevaricate more would have been unprofessional. To go divided would be worse for F1. So let's get on with bringing our own unique brand of 'goodwill to mankind' and count ourselves lucky to be free to say what we think. But a bit more sensitivity would not go amiss."

Tagged as: FIA , Damon Hill , Jean Todt , Bahrain , unrest

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Mark _

April 20, 2012 3:15 PM

As much as Hill changes his opinion he sure isn't affraid to talk about things wrong with a sport like F1. I agree about Todt being asleep at the wheel. But then again Todt is just another of Bernie's minions.


April 20, 2012 4:38 PM

Dreary Damon says "I supported Todt's decision to go because I felt we should all go with our heads held up, knowing why we are there and what is expected of us." Very good. but then it says "The 1996 world champion, who does not appear to be in Bahrain in his role as part of the Sky Sports F1 commentary team..." Well done Damon. I dare say a vital, unmissable WI jam tasting contest prevented him going (with his head held high)

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