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GP Week : Issue 150
One of the big surprises of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend was the number of locals who were supportive of Formula One’s presence in the country. While the accepted line in the international news media was that of a country up in arms against the grand prix, the experience of those on the ground was that the issue was far too complex to be distilled into a single pro- or anti- opinion. Rather – and as we should have anticipated – while there were those who thought that Formula One was racing on the blood of martyrs, there were also those who felt that the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix was a necessary step in helping the country to move on. When it came to speaking out in support of the race, anonymity was the order of the day, with commentators both Sunni and Shi’a concerned about possible reprisals for themselves and their families should the protesters be angered by their comments. “I want the race to go ahead,” one young Shi’a woman told GPWEEK. “I am not that interested in the race itself personally, but it is the principal of the matter. The opposition have hurt this country enough and we need to move on.” It was an opinion shared by another Bahraini who contacted GPWEEK on condition of anonymity: “The mood, generally speaking, in my own circle was that [the grand prix] should go ahead, for several reasons,” the source said. “We crave the return of some normalcy in our disrupted lives. We need some positive distraction. The economy has suffered greatly.” The Bahrain Grand Prix “is an event that is accessible and open to all and in that sense is unifying,” our source continued. “As the Crown Prince said [over the weekend], to cancel would b to play into the hands of the extremists. Last year, he decided and we all agreed that our wounds were still too raw to go ahead with the race. Since then, Bahrain's leadership has made moves to right some wrongs. “Is it perfect? No. But at some point we have to move onwards, not be dragged downwards.” The more Bahrainis GPWEEK spoke to, the more positive comments we heard: “Irrespective of how politically unstable the country is, [the grand prix] is a sporting event and it needs to be treated as such,” a third interviewee told this magazine. “The country has been through a lot and some positivity is much needed in these times. People around me are thrilled.” BAHRAINIS SPEAK – in support of the race 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 4 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> NEWS