Rethink call on Bahrain Grand Prix decision

 

Pressure was mounting on the motorsport authorities today to reconsider the decision to go ahead with this year's Bahrain Grand Prix.

MP Richard Burden, who is active in Parliament on both the Middle East and motorsport, echoed yesterday's call by former world champion Damon Hill for Formula One governing body the FIA to think again about holding the race on April 22.

Mr Burden, Labour MP for Birmingham Northfield, said: "Damon Hill is right to call on the governing body of motorsport to rethink its decision to go ahead with this year's Bahrain Grand Prix.

"I say that as someone who is a motorsport nut as well as an MP with a keen interest in the Middle East.

"The inquiry which the Bahrain government set up into the events on its streets last year proved to be more independent than many expected and there is no doubt that there are those amongst the country's rulers seeking genuine reform. It is also true that not all the problems in Bahrain come from one side.

"In a context where genuine and sustainable reform is taking place, holding a grand prix could be a unifying event for the people of Bahrain as well as a positive showcase on the world stage. But things are not at that stage.

"Since February last year, 45 people have died on Bahrain's streets. The latest victim was killed by live ammunition only last week.

"Hundreds of protesters gathered at the cemetery near his home outside the capital, Manama. Reports say riot police fired tear gas and stun grenades into the crowds, setting off running street clashes."

He added: "Bahrain is nothing like as bad as the terrible situation in Syria. And F1 teams do race in other countries with unenviable human rights records.

"But that does not mean it is right for F1 to collude in presenting to the outside world a cocooned picture of normality at the Bahrain International Circuit, when what is likely to be going on just few miles outside the circuit could be very different indeed.

"In hindsight, the FIA should not have scheduled the 2012 race so early in the season. It was always going to be too early to know how far things had moved on in Bahrain since last year. F1 can't turn the clock back but, with three weeks to go before the race, it can still rethink. It should do so."

Hill was vocal a year ago at a time when the season-opening event was postponed in the wake of anti-government protests that resulted in a number of deaths before it was cancelled completely.

But following a visit to the Gulf kingdom earlier this year, alongside FIA president Jean Todt, he expressed his support and championed the positive aspects the race could bring to Bahrain.

Since then, though, the protests have continued, and Hill said yesterday: "What we must put above all else is what will be the penalty in terms of human cost if the race goes ahead.

"It would be a bad state of affairs, and bad for Formula One, to be seen to be enforcing martial law in order to hold the race.

"That is not what this sport should be about. Looking at it today, you'd have to say that the race could be creating more problems than it's solving."

Hill, now an expert summariser on Sky Sports F1, is not advocating the race be cancelled again, but he is expressing his misgivings given the situation, and calling on the FIA to "tread carefully".

Mr Burden was writing on the Huffington Post website.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower