Just 12 fans turned out for the GP2 Feature Race at Sakhir on Friday, less than a week after Bahrain was the focus of global attention
When the F1 circus left town last Sunday, Bahrain dropped out of the headlines almost overnight, the media, like the sport, appearing to move on to pastures new, in F1's case Mugello and then Barcelona. However, with a further round of the GP2 Series taking place just a few days later, meaning that participants had to hang around in the Gulf state for another week, it was surprising that there was so little concern as to their safety considering the speculation over the F1 event.
On Twitter on Friday, Ferrari's Luca Colajanni wrote: "No moral or security questions/doubts for the GP2 race weekend in Bahrain? Something has changed in one week??" He had a point.
As it happened, like the Grand Prix, the two GP2 races passed without incident, then again, with FOM's cameras outnumbering the fans in the stands, it appears that both sides in the ongoing revolution have lost interest in the sport.
A GP2 insider told Pitpass: "Today we went back to a completely empty circuit (12 persons in the grandstands). No security, no police, no services at all. A support race with less than 10 very old Honda Civics. No journos, a couple of "official" photographers. Not even the GP2 bosses were here. A GP2 winter test is more busy than what we had today. A shame, indeed."
Having revealed that there were 20 FOM TV cameras deployed around the circuit broadcasting the event, on Saturday our insider informed us: "Today, attendance was slightly better… 13 in the grandstand during the out laps and some 30 during the race."
Away from the circuit, in the days between the Grand Prix and this weekend's event, our source says: "During the GP week we travelled back and forth from Manama on different highways and we saw lots of anti-riot police monitoring the problematic areas and towns. We saw a couple of deployments and a group of policemen advancing towards a neighbourhood. On Saturday morning we saw clashes in one of the highway crossings. A couple of cars burnt, lots of debris and armoured police cars, but nothing else. During these days, we twice went downtown and life was normal. We walked around the Souk and ate at a local restaurant. All absolutely normal.
"This week we did lots of kilometres around the island and around the main city. We avoided the 'problem' towns because the traffic at these places is very heavy and you could lose lots of time just to cross a town with no interest at all.
"It's true that some areas were fenced (around the former Pearl Square, for instance) and taken by Police but they were places you wouldn't normally visit. Cars of all types were flowing in and out giving a sense of life as usual."
Asked to confirm reports about those attending the Grand Prix, our insider said, "To me the GP was a fiasco. (There were) empty grandstands, few local people in the entertainment area that were not at the track for the racing but to have a day out with the families... probably invited, lots of them didn't even bother to watch the start of the race as they were attending the free shows held by dozens of first class entertainers from around the world - clowns, magicians and singers. Sponsors didn't turn-up. VIP car parks and Paddock Club weren't packed as they usually are. Traffic jams were nonexistent but for the 'cosmetic' security checks."
Today, following a claim by Emirates247.com that "Bahrain could bid for the Olympics on the back of (its) F1 success", our source admitted that he feared for the sport's future in the Gulf state: "My feeling is of sadness," he admitted. "I feel the race won't take place again. Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt may have said "mission accomplished" to the royals but I doubt F1 will return here for the time being."
Friday's Feature Race was won by Davide Valsecchi (pictured) while today's race was won by Tom Dillmann.