• Bahrain Grand Prix

Time for F1 to look in the mirror

ESPNF1 Staff
April 23, 2012 « Ferrari limited the damage - Alonso | F1 will return to Bahrain - Ecclestone »
A job well done? Bernie Ecclestone and Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Isa Hamad Al Khalifa in the safe world of the Bahrain International Circuit © Press Association
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While the headlines in the immediate aftermath of the Bahrain Grand Prix were occupied by the return of Sebastian Vettel to winning ways, there were also reflections on the wisdom of staging the race and the damage to the image of the sport by doing so.

The Times considered the subject serious enough for a lead editorial which pulled no punches. "It was a success for tear gas, attack dogs and brutality. This was a sporting event that should not have happened. That it did is to the shame of Bahrain and Formula One alike.

"The world's leading motor sport should flinch to look in the mirror. Those who gave the merest regard to anything other than profit -- among whom Mr Ecclestone and his associates do not appear to number -- could easily have attached conditions to the race's return."

In the same newspaper Kevin Eason, who has been filing reports from Bahrain all week, was confronted by Bernie Ecclestone. "[He] sought me out yesterday, pointed his finger and told me everything I have written from Bahrain was rubbish and that I had not spoken to people who wanted the race. I put it another way: I wrote stories that maybe did not agree with F1's world view."

In the Daily Telegraph, Tom Cary wrote: "Despite the spectre of civil unrest, the many threats of disruption and sabotage, stringent measures put in place by Bahrain's security services proved crushingly effective. While it remains unclear what casualties, if any, were sustained in clashes between protesters and riot police elsewhere in Bahrain last night, just two arrests on race day -- both women -- represented a major victory for the Bahrain International Circuit."

Paul Weaver in the Guardian noted the unreal atmosphere at the track. "Bonkers, a clown flown in from the UK, entertained spectators, and there was a military march-past, like a flexed muscle before an imaginary foe. Bad things were happening out there, but not at the Bahrain International Circuit."

"Now Formula One, and Bahrain, must start the recovery process from what has been a public relations disaster for both parties. Sunday might have been better than Ecclestone could have hoped for but the sport has shipped enormous collateral damage."

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