Date: 17th April 2012 at 9:24am
Written by:

Formula One is set to return to Bahrain over the next few days for the first time in over two years.

Last seasons event which had been originally scheduled to be the seasons opener was at first postponed and then eventually cancelled due to political unrest in Bahrain.

This years event has been the subject of a lot of media coverage. Last week this built up to the position when FOTA [Formula One Teams Association] released a press statement stating that it was the decision of the FIA to decide if a race shouldn’t take place.

FOTA was virtually pushed into that position by mounting media speculation that some of the teams were not happy about the prospect of racing in a country with ongoing human rights issues.

Ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix the FIA announced that the Bahrain Grand Prix would go ahead this weekend, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone held a brief meeting with the teams in Shanghai informing all the team bosses that the race would be going ahead. Reportedly there were no questions, no complaints and the meeting was wrapped up very quickly.

Ecclestone hoped that would draw a line under it and Formula One could head into the weekend with no further complaints, while the Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed R Alzayani insisted that holding the event was not a gamble.

He told Sky Sports: ‘We’ve been in Formula One for seven years and we will be in it for much longer than that, We wouldn’t take a decision on a gamble. But it’s a calculated decision, we’ve weighed up our options and we are committed to the Grand Prix and to its success.

‘I don’t think anything drastic will happen. It’s not Syria or Afghanistan.’


But while Formula One appears content with the decision, Amnesty International have said that the crisis in the country is not over.

‘With the world’s eyes on Bahrain as it prepares to host the Grand Prix, no one should be under any illusions that the country’s human rights crisis is over,’ said Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui told Sky News.

This has led to Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander calling for the event to be called off.

‘The authorities are trying to portray the country as being on the road to reform, but we continue to receive reports of torture and use of unnecessary and excessive force against protests.’

‘To go ahead at present risks sending the wrong signal at a time when the authorities in Bahrain should be focused on delivering real reform,’