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GP Week : Issue 149
Formula One’s morals were once again called into question this week when the FIA confirmed that the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix would be going ahead as scheduled, despite protests from human rights organisations concerned about the ongoing treatment of Bahraini protesters. “Formula One promoters say their decision to race in Bahrain should not be derailed by political considerations, but the ruling family will attempt to portray Friday's decision as a political statement of support for its repressive policies,” Tom Porteous, deputy programme director at the highly- respected Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “The FIA has played into the government's narrative to gloss over Bahrain's continuing human rights crisis.” The decision to hold the race has been viewed by many in the paddock as Jean Todt’s career suicide, although the FIA president did not sign his name to the note – the press release issued on Friday morning which claimed that the FIA would secure “the safety of the public, officials, drivers and teams” . By accepting responsibility for ensuring the safety of those participating in the Bahrain Grand Prix, the FIA have put themselves in the unenviable position of being the only heads above the parapet should someone get injured over the course of the weekend. And as president of motorsport’s governing body, if any heads are to roll over the Bahrain Grand Prix and any resulting violence, injury, or death, Todt will be the man in the firing line (so to speak). Todt has not made any public comment regarding Bahrain, nor has he commented on the press release issued by the body he leads. Despite being in the Shanghai paddock this weekend, the FIA president refused to answer questions from reporters, choosing instead to sequester himself in private areas. This strategy was, in the words of The Times correspondent Kevin Eason “peculiar” . The FIA’s communique confidently asserted that their decision to press ahead with the controversial race was based on “regular security briefings from the most senior diplomatic officials based in the Kingdom as well as from other independent experts” . But some of these experts are far from impartial. Key among them is former Assistant Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police Service, John Yates. Yates was forced to resign from his job in London following his catastrophic mishandling of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, amid accusations that he had deliberately misled parliament in his review of the case. Yates was hired by the Bahraini government to review the country’s policing procedures in December 2011, shortly after the damning report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry was published. As a government employee with a vested interest in ensuring the Bahrain Grand Prix went ahead as scheduled, Yates cannot be considered an independent or impartial expert when advising the FIA on the wisdom of holding the race. One week ago, an Independent Police Complaints Commission enquiry determined that Yates was guilty of “poor judgement” in the NotW affair. In the circumstances, the FIA would have been better off choosing a different – and impartial – independent expert. BAHRAIN: It’s on, and the FIA are responsible for safety EDITOR: Adam Hay-Nicholls firstname.lastname@example.org ASSISTANT EDITORS: Naoise Holohan, Kate Walker F1 ANALYST: Peter Windsor MOTOGP EDITOR: Michael Scott email@example.com RALLY EDITOR: Martin Holmes firstname.lastname@example.org PRODUCTION ARTIST: Cedric Dufour PHOTOGRAPHY: Sutton Motorsport Images www.sutton-images.com Keith Sutton email@example.com: Mark Sutton, Patrik Lundin, Dirk Klynsmith, Emily Davenport PUBLISHER: Chris Lambden firstname.lastname@example.org PUBLISHED BY: Grand Prix Week Ltd 61 Watling Street, Towcester Northants NN12 6AG United Kingdom ADVERTISING: n Richard Partridge email@example.com Ph: + 44 1273 232 566 Mob: + 44 7771 567 644 n Mark Sutton firstname.lastname@example.org n Gaye Grinsted (WRC/MotoGP) email@example.com Ph: +44 (0) 207 254 8796 Mob: +44 (0) 7921 283 070 n Adam Hay-Nicholls firstname.lastname@example.org n SE Asia, Australasia GPWEEK (Australia) email@example.com .com WEEK BRIEFLY » Female racing drivers are like buses. You wait ages for one woman to put on F1 racing overalls, and then another comes along. Williams announced this week that DTM racer Susie Stoddart – wife of Williams shareholder Toto Wolff – would be joining the team as a development driver. “I shall be offering some of my own technical insight and experience – coming from a different discipline – and helping the team engage with its partners,” she said. “I hope also to demonstrate that women can play a role at the highest levels of motorsport and I shall be working closely with the team on its social responsibility programme in the areas of education and road safety.” GP WEEK’s Adam Hay-Nicholls is less convinced this is good news for female racers, in today’s Editor’s Column. » Saturday’s qualifying session in China ended a 57-year front row drought for the Silver Arrows, when Michael Schumacher was promoted to P2 on the grid following Lewis Hamilton’s gearbox penalty. The last all-Mercedes front row was in the 1955 Italian Grand Prix, when Juan-Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, and Karl Kling lined up side-by- side in Monza. Pole-sitter Fangio went on to win that race, which resulted in a Mercedes 1-2, but Moss and Kling both retired as a result of mechanical failures – the former suffered engine trouble, while the latter was affected by a malfunctioning gearbox. Behind the wheel of a W196, Piero Taruffi climbed up from a P9 start to finish second in a race with only ten classified finishers of 20 starters. 4 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> NEWS