If you’ve not been reading the papers, or watching the news, or listening to any radio that features news, you may have missed the small kerfuffle about unrest in Bahrain. About the state there brutally suppressing said unrest. And about a number of very highly paid people driving very expensive cars around a track there.
First off, the race was very entertaining. Well, the bits of it that I saw on BBC were; under the new broadcast setup I didn’t get to watch it live but did catch the 2/3s of it that Auntie got. There was lots of decent racing, a few very good overtaking moves and a hard fought win by a boring driver from a very exciting (and slightly insane) driver. All good, and a race worth having.
But that’s been an aside to the main story, which has been HOW DARE THEY RUN A RACE THERE DON’T THEY KNOW PEOPLE ARE DYING OH MY GOD THE HORROR.
And it is horrible; yes, there are many nasty things going on in that small country. Yes, the F1 race is a large advert not for the country but for the ruling elite. Yes, the people behind F1 are quite easily painted as mercenary friends of the oppressive rulers of such countries. But, the same things were true last year when the race was cancelled, and the nasty things have continued since, despite the race being cancelled. It’s just that we didn’t hear about it because the news moved on after the decision was taken not to race.
This time round, there has been a fortnight where Bahrain hasn’t been out of the news, and not for reasons that any ruling clique would like. There have been images of the unrest; the news of the man dying over the weekend has been broadcast worldwide; there have been debates carried out publicly about security; the leaders of the parts of the free world that watch Formula 1 have been speaking about events.
In short, the decision to run the race has brought the attention of the world to what’s going on. Maybe that’ll help more than last years strategy (the same people taking their ball and going home, allowing all of us to forget about it).