David Tremayne: As F1 takes a battering, where is the silver lining?

The GP boosts wealth for organisers, but also the little people, corner shops and taxi drivers

Now that the most politically volatile grand prix in the sport's history has been run and the dust has settled momentarily in the troubled Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, amid a welter of arrests and protests allegedly involving 50,000 people in Manama, two questions are worth considering.

The first is: what did Formula One gain from going to Bahrain?

In public relations terms it was a spectacular own goal, with global media coverage slamming the perceived greed of those who run the sport – Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA president, Jean Todt, came in for savage maulings – and reinforcing the view of it as an elitist sport run by and for multi-millionaires who are unconcerned for humanity. Ecclestone habitually takes the view that there is no such thing as bad publicity, but though the race went ahead without any feared disruptions even he and Todt must be reflecting on that philosophy and pondering whether so much adverse reaction will have a knock-on effect on potential sponsors. Descriptions such as "vile", "amoral" and "lacking any moral compass" have been applied to F1 in recent days.

The other question is equally important, and may be more positive: what did Bahrain gain from the grand prix? And that doesn't mean just the Sunni leadership, who were so insistent on it going ahead, or the vocal Shia protesters upon whose every word so many media outlets hung during the weekend. It also means the silent majority of law abiding Bahrainis.

Hasan Emad, a self-employed Sunni working in real estate, told me and other journalists: "I had tears in my eyes when they first announced a grand prix in Bahrain. I have been a fan since 1994. I love Michael Schumacher!"

His friend, Yaqoob Salman Mohamed Al-Slaise, also a Sunni and an IT lecturer at Bahrain University, said: "We frankly need the race, whether to help our slumping economy with many Bahrainis buying tickets for the first time for the sake of making the race a success, or showing that the country's people will not 'stand down' in the face of those who incite violence on the street under the cloak of 'peaceful protesting' or attempt to sabotage the F1 by scaring away teams, media and fans.

"Violence does not bring democracy nor better human rights, nor does sabotaging a sporting event bring reforms. It only leads to more hatred and spite and keeps us in a political stalemate."

Perhaps the most interesting view came from their friend Ahmed Al Mahri – because he is a Shia and they are universally portrayed as anti-F1. "The grand prix marketed Bahrain," he said. "Nobody knew anything of Bahrain before it. And staging it this year helps us because people like you are here and you are listening and getting the right picture of what's going on in the country. And it boosts the wealth, not just for the organisers but for the little people, the taxi drivers and the corner shops."

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
SPORT
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick