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Timebomb

FEATURE BY MIKE LAWRENCE
30/11/2011

As though Formula One has not got enough potential problems, with the indecision over the US Grand Prix at Austin, the 2012 World Championship calendar has been published and it includes the Bahrain GP on 22nd April. I have no idea why the FIA has done this because there will not be a race in Bahrain in 2012.

It was only five months ago that we had the bizarre instance of an FIA delegation reporting that all was well in that happy land, and that the race would be held towards the end of the this season. It did not matter that the plans of other organisers would be thrown into disarray.

The FIA said that it believed the Bahraini authorities when they gave assurances that everything would be fine five months from thence. The reinstatement and then cancellation of the race made motor racing look both silly and to have no moral compass whatsoever.

Believing Bahrain is like making life decisions on the strength of a fortune cookie.

Now the FIA accepts Bahraini assurances that things will be fine just five months from now, next April. It's deja vu all over again.

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report, prepared by six internationally respected lawyers, was published on 23rd November. Opposition leaders had predicted that it would be a whitewash, instead it states that the Bahraini authorities had used torture and excessive force during its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters earlier this year. It highlights a culture of non-accountability among the security forces and the practice of arresting people in the middle of the night and subjecting them to mental and/or physical duress. The report found that five people had died under torture.

During the Abu Dhabi GP weekend, Sir Jackie Stewart told the BBC that he had read the report and that it was very positive. It is believed that Stewart has an ambassadorial role, hence his seeing the report ten days before it became public.

It saddens me that my memory of a great driver is being tarnished by embarrassing statements. Earlier in the year he trotted out the ridiculous theory that a Grand Prix would unite the country while the opposition had declared that it would prompt a Day of Rage.

With Stewart you can never be sure whether his principle motivation is money or brown nosing royalty.

On Tuesday, 22nd November, the king issued a partial and conditional apology for excessive force earlier this year.

Some have welcomed Bahrain's admission but, unfortunately, it is a Public Relations exercise. Nothing has changed.

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