Right Race, Right Place

Formula One completed a race in Bahrain yesterday, after coming under international condemnation.

Since the Arab Spring in February last year, Bahrain has had to overcome mass protests from the Shia minority. The race, which had to pulled from the calendar in 2011, came under scrutiny from human rights campaigners.

Before this weekend’s proceedings Formula One was criticised for holding such an event, given as so many people have been injured and killed by the ruling regime in the country. On Saturday a protestor was killed after filming a protest.

Ed Miliband made a statement on Friday night saying that the race should not go ahead.

“Given the violence we have seen in Bahrain, given the human rights abuses, I don’t believe the Grand Prix should go ahead and I hope that the government will make its view clear and say the same.”

The Labour leaders calls were met with anger from the F1 paddock, as they believed the calls were too late. “Politicians in the UK were saying we should withdraw once we’d got here,” Mercedes GP Team Principal Ross Brawn said. “Why didn’t they say something beforehand?”

The McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh added: “I don’t think it’s helpful to wake up and hear we shouldn’t be here when we’re already here.”

Some have argued that the race was used by the Bahrain government as a propaganda tool to show the country in a good light around the world, as it aims to create a positive image of the country. This is further backed up by the country endorsing the F1 brand in the race slogan, ‘UniF1ed’.

Smoke outside the track during the race

The race did however go off without a hitch.

Pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel went on to win the race after overcoming a challenge for victory with Kimi Raikkonen, fellow Lotus driver Romain Grosjean rounded off the podium with 3rd place. Scottish driver Paul Di Resta had an impressive race to finish in 6th. It was a poor race from the Mclaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Hamilton had several poor pit stops and finished the race in a lowly 8th place, whilst Button was forced to retire from the race two laps before the end with a differential failure.

After the race it was announced that a number of Channel 4 journalists are to be deported on Monday after being arrested for entering and working in Bahrain on just a tourist visa.

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