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Comment: The Bahrain GP must not happen

NEWS STORY
19/02/2011

In one of the strangest interviews of recent times, the Beeboid constantly hmmmed (in frustration or delight?), as Bernie Ecclestone plonked his size fives right in it. Again.

The BBC is in between a rock and hard place, whilst cheering on the peoples uprisings of the Middle East and forever force feeding us its message in terms of Manmade Global Warming it is desperate to retain Formula One which, like one of its most popular shows, Top Gear, is starkly at odds with its fiercely political agenda.

Never has Bernie Ecclestone sounded as lacking in conviction or understanding. The interview, which sounds as though it was recorded whilst the F1 supremo was doing the washing up, sees him truly struggling, while his comment that "hopefully it will blow over" was truly cringeworthy.

There have been enough scandals in recent years, enough times when F1 has well and truly shot itself in the foot. Yet here is Ecclestone, with the aid of a Beeboid accomplice, willingly releasing the safety catch and seemingly taking slow careful aim at an appendage which already has more holes than a sieve.

If ever F1 needed a quick thinking PR person this is it, for as the Daily Mail prepares to publish another chapter from Tom Bower's tawdry tome, one wonders what will happen when serious journalists turn their attention on the sport.

By taking action now, by appearing to take a stance and definitively saying that the Bahrain Grand Prix will not go ahead, the sport can still come out of this with some vestige of honour. After the numerous scandals of recent times, what we don't need is for Formula One to make another serious mistake, another major error of judgement.

While the facts are muddled - as they often are in such situations - with talk of the security forces using mercenaries, of protestors being shot from helicopters, live rounds fired at (and killing) peaceful protestors and brutal beatings handed out to the families of the ringleaders, the facts of the matter are right there on our television screens.

Hoping something will "blow away" or "blow over" is what one says about a silly spat, a senseless row, a trivial tantrum... but this is serious, this is about people being killed for daring to speak out. To dither and procrastinate, far less still consider going ahead with the Grand Prix, is to effectively say, "nothing to see here, let's move along".

As protestors die on the streets of Manama, and Formula One still seriously considers setting up shop declaring "business as usual", the sport willingly offers itself up to its numerous critics.

However, once this wave of unrest has "blown away" and the victims buried, how long before the serious media remembers Ecclestone's misquoted comments about Hitler? How long before the mainstream media turns its attention to the Gribkowsky affair or even the ongoing campaign to raise funds for Patrick Head's retirement?

Some teams and sponsors spoke out in the wake of the revelations relating to Max Mosley's private life, while Crashgate saw the departure of a couple of sponsors and the beginning of the end of Renault. However, this is potentially far more damaging to the sport.

It is time for Bernie, the FIA and the teams to do the decent thing, to show some backbone and some understanding in terms of what happens outside Planet Paddock.

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