F1 »

Bahrain to remain on F1 schedule 'forever', insists Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone sees no reason to drop Bahrain from future F1 schedules, despite the controversy this year's event provoked.
Bernie Ecclestone looks certain to have stirred up further controversy over F1's involvement with the strife-hit kingdom of Bahrain by suggesting that the two will remain hand-in-hand 'forever'.

The Bahrain Grand Prix returned to the F1 schedule in 2012, a year after the race was cancelled due to civil unrest stemming from the Arab Spring uprising that swept through northern Africa and the Middle East. Only confirmed by the FIA a week before the F1 circus was due to decamp to Manama, the race served as a renewed focus for protests and demonstrations although, despite the death of one protestor on Friday night, the situation does not appear to have been as bloody as some sections of the media reported.

The event itself was not disrupted, but the weekend culminated in reports of a British television crew being arrested and GP2 teams - who have to stay on for another event this coming week - being caught up in further violence.

Ecclestone has long appeared blase when asked to comment on the prospect of the race going ahead, dismissing reports of trouble in Bahrain as media hype, suggesting that going there was no more dangerous than going to Barcelona and offering to ride shotgun with spooked Force India team members caught up in a firebombing on Wednesday night.

While smoke could be seen rising at various spots on the horizon before the race, and there were reports of tyres being set alight in numerous villages, the sport's ringmaster remained unrepentent when subsequently asked whether he thought it prudent to return to Bahrain in future seasons.

"Absolutely. Forever. No problem," he told Reuters, "I think it's good because people talk about things, you know. You know what they say - there is no such thing as bad publicity.

"[Motorsport in the Middle East] is growing all the time, and other places are interested. I think it will grow here for sure."

While other F1 aspirants, such as Turkey and Korea, have either lost their place on the calendar or are rumoured to do so due to poor crowd numbers, the Bahrain International Circuit does not appear to face the same threat, despite a disappointing turn-out on Sunday. Already seen as the plaything of the ruling Sunnis, the race is not dependent on ticket sales to survive, but the 'added attractions' laid on in an attempt to prove that, under the 'UniF1ed' banner, all was well in the kingdom did not prove as big a draw as anticipated.

"It's like Disneyland," a foreigner working among the off-track attractions commented, surveying the music stage, circus performers and musical theatre, in the stalls. "This is the best entertainment village I've seen in a long time. They've really pushed the boat out - for obvious reasons."

While the official attendance was given as 28,000, television pictures appeared to show far fewer people in the grandstands, while the Paddock Club, popular among corporate sponsors and their guests, was largely deserted. The majority of the crowd was reckoned to be made up of expatriates taking the opportunity to see F1 first-hand, and not the various sections of the population that the royal family had sought to reunite after a year of unrest.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
22.04.2012- Circuit atmosphere
22.04.2012- Circuit atmosphere
22.04.2012- Circuit atmosphere
20.04.2012- Circuit atmosphere
19.04.2012-  Atmosphere, `One Nation in Celebration`
22.04.2012- Race, Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of Formula One Management
01.05.2016 - Race, Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of FOM
01.05.2016 - Race, Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of FOM and Marco Tronchetti Provera (ITA), Pirelli`s President
30.04.2016 - Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of FOM
30.04.2016 - Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of FOM
30.04.2016 - Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of FOM
30.04.2016 - Nikki Lauda (AU), Mercedes with a present of Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of FOM for his birthday.
03.04.2016 - Race, Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
03.04.2016 - Race, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB12 and Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Red Bull Racing RB12
03.04.2016 - Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
03.04.2016 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
03.04.2016 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
03.04.2016 - Race, Maurizio Arrivabene (ITA) Ferrari Team Principal

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.

Barky - Unregistered

April 23, 2012 8:22 AM

Next up the North Korean GP, followed by the Iranian GP, followed by the Syrian GP. It's quite right that F1 shouldn't be political, it should be moral though.

© 1999 - 2016 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.