April 17th, 2013 (F1plus/E. Black).- Last year around this time I wrote an article about Formula One giving the Grand Prix in Bahrain the green light. It started as follows, and I think you might agree that not much has changed:
"When Politics and Economics cross paths with Sports, the waters become muddy and the joy of sports is lost. We all know that F1 is more business than sports these days and to an extent, we understand and accept that as fact. So when is F1 no longer considered a sport? Perhaps it’s when it gets entangled in a political struggle of morality and finance."
The question of whether Formula One should or should not go to Bahrain amidst a certain degree of civil unrest is a question of safety. The question of whether the Grand Prix should go ahead amidst the current debate on human and civil rights is perhaps more of a moral argument.
The real issues for Formula One are Safety and Money. Last season, the situation in Manama and surrounding villages seemed much worse. The Grand Prix was held and there were no major incidents and no safety concerns. Everyone did their job and got paid and so did Formula One.
Based largely on the above scenario and no new threats, the FIA and most of Formula One feels it is safe enough to continue with the Grand Prix in Sakhir. The protests are localized for the most part and in pockets distant from the circuit. I would be lying if I said I've heard much news from Bahrain between last season's race and the last week or two. The media has been fairly quiet on the subject.
Sex sells, so do sensationalistic stories. Perhaps the main stream media takes the opportunity it is given, and takes advantage of Formula One’s global reach. It clearly puts Bahrain on the world stage and it gives protesters and media a chance to use that as a forum.
One question continues to haunt me. And that is whether or not the decision to run the Bahrain GP, crosses a moral or ethical line in the Bahrain desert sand, or if it's just a matter of business over sport.
Let me ask you three questions:
1. Would you hold the GP if you were calling the shots?
2. Does it cross any lines or should Political issues be left outside of the sports arena?
3. Should Todt attend the GP and support his decision to run it?
FIA President Jean Todt has decided not to attend the controversial GP.