Posts Tagged ‘Melbourne’

So last week’s Bahrain Grand Prix was good, then?

No, of course that sentence is inaccurate. Partly because there isn’t really such a thing as a “good” Bahrain Grand Prix, but mostly because of the distinct lack of Bahrain Grand Prix that took place. And despite the deeply unpleasant reasons behind the race’s cancellation, I can’t help but, from a Formula 1 perspective, be a little happy about it. I didn’t buy into the nonsense that ‘professional’ ‘journalists’ spouted after last years opening event at the wealthy island monarchy. It was by no means the “worst race ever” or “a sign of Formula 1’s continuing decline” as we were told by the same group of predictable sensationalists who told us that the following race in Australia was stunning. It was an unsurprisingly disappointing event after 4 months of build-up, but average by Bahrain standards. What that race did give us though, is a very good indication both of why Bahrain should not be the opening race of the season, and why it shouldn’t really be a race at all. Or at least those are the lessons it should have given us. Instead we had weeks of team managers, drivers and others telling us they would “improve the show”, which damaged the credibility of F1. These people were basically saying “F1 is boring, and to make it more interesting we must make it less of a sport”. Of course the following race in Australia was exciting, as it always is, and the fuss ended. Everyone forgot about Bahrain, the real questions of why that fuss occurred were not answered, and no lessons were learnt. Fast forward a year and F1 is somehow faced with exactly the same situation of Bahrain being the opening Grand Prix, and the inevitable disappointment and damage to F1’s public image that will arise as a result. A repeat of that has been avoided however, and I’m sure Australia will provide the thrilling season opener that it always does.

Of course to suggest the situation Bahrain finds itself in is a good thing because F1 fans won’t be bored for a couple of hours on a Sunday, would be mind numbingly selfish. The Grand Prix is insignificant compared to the situation the country is currently in, and far more important is the issue of human rights that the people of Bahrain have been denied. It does raise an important question though. Is Bahrain the kind of country F1 should be involved with? The actions of the corrupt monarchy (members of which we are used to seeing walking down the grid and telling us how wonderful Bahrain is) and the way in which they have reacted to the incredibly reasonable demands of the protesters with force would suggest no. There is also a very strong argument, however, that politics (real politics, rather than F1 politics) should not interfere with sport. It’s a question that will always spring up for as long as Bernie’s money seeking brings us to more and more countries with questionable leadership. It’s also a question I’m not going to answer, because I don’t have an answer, but it’s one we should continuously ask ourselves. Or we could just not go to Bahrain because the Grand Prix is a bit rubbish and leave it at that.

I still think F1 fans should be happy about the cancellation, however, purely because the race would have been dull, and that dullness would be exaggerated by the fact we have been deprived of F1 for several months. In recent years Melbourne has established itself as the rightful location of the opening race, and we should make the most of it. Especially seeing as it may not be around much longer, a great shame that will deprive Melbourne residents and politicians of the wider economic benefits that the race brings (which they appear to have failed to notice) and deprive Formula 1 of a popular, exciting and successful event. We should also make the most of the season finale returning to it’s rightful place at Interlagos this year, after two strikingly uneventful concluding events at the enthusiasm-crushing Yas Marina circuit. Presumably they failed to pay the extra 700 billion pounds or something. Either way, with a race schedule increasing dominated by money, it’s nice to get the ‘bookends’ right, even if there are still some issues with the ones in the middle.

As far as Bahrain is concerned, with violence and suppression continuing in the country, Bernie’s aim of holding the race this year is increasingly unlikely. The future of F1 and Bahrain is unclear, and if the much criticised 2010 event was the last race we see in the country for a while, I don’t think Formula 1 should be disappointed. There’s increasing demand for a slot on the F1 calendar, and I think everyone agrees Bahrain needs to do a lot more to deserve a place ahead of, say, Spa or Montreal. I also highly doubt the real people of Bahrain would be particularly disappointed either. There are more important things that the Bahraini people need than a Grand Prix.


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