• Paper Round

Consensus that common sense prevailed

ESPNF1 Staff
February 22, 2011 « 'Red Bull is very quick and that's a fact' - Massa | »
David Coulthard: "It would certainly have not have felt right going there and calling my first race" © Sutton Images

With the news finally confirmed that the Bahrain Grand Prix has been called off, the general feeling among F1 journalists is that common sense prevailed.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph , new BBC commentator David Coulthard said there was no other choice but to cancel the event.

"It would certainly have not have felt right going there and calling my first race, getting caught up in the minutiae of events, knowing what had happened out on the streets. And then there was the whole issue of security, which would have been difficult to guarantee given the renewed threats from protesters on Sunday that they would target the race."

Reporting from Bahrain for the Times , Hugh Tomlinson said the outcome was not ideal but the risks of hosting the race made it a no-brainer.

"Cancelling the race is embarrassing, but allowing the curtain-raiser to the Formula One season to go ahead with the Sakhir circuit guarded by tanks, and teargas drifting into the stands, would be far worse. Some of the teams were already booked into hotels near Pearl Square. Having the drivers disturbed by loud protests would be bad enough. Rousing them with gunfire would do irreparable damage."

Looking ahead, the Daily Telegraph's F1 correspondent Tom Cary analysed who stands to lose the most as a result of the decision.

"The broadcasters may be worse off. The BBC paid an estimated £200 million for the rights to F1. If the race is rescheduled it will still get its 20 races. If not, it is understood that it will accept that it was a case of force majeure. It is fortunate that it has not sold advertising off the back of the Bahrain race as other broadcasters have."

With the grand prix officially postponed, the next big question is whether the race can be rescheduled if conditions in Bahrain improve. Most punters expect it to be twinned in a back-to-back with Abu Dhabi, with the season finale in Brazil being moved back one week in to December to make space. But veteran F1 journalist and blogger Joe Saward believes there are problems with that plan too.

"Abu Dhabi will not want a regional event taking away from its ticket sales - or its glory, come to that. These emirates and kingdoms in the Gulf are a competitive lot and Bahrain got to F1 before Abu Dhabi, much to the chagrin of the richer UAE establishment. So there is nothing in it for Abu Dhabi. In any case, taking the F1 calendar into December is not going to go down well with the teams, who need time over the winter to build new cars and do not want to have to employ two different crews to go racing, which would add to the expense at a time when everyone is supposed to be talking about cost reduction."