Formula One: Bahrain Grand Prix preview

Shall we do the racing first? Two practice sessions over for Sunday’s Bahrain GP, and Nico Rosberg holds a familiar half-second advantage over the rest. Half a second was of course Nico’s margin in his light-speed pole position lap last week in China. Is that really how much faster the Mercedes is? The others will be hoping not and it’s the fog of free-practice. They, and we, will find out tomorrow.

Perhaps. Despite the business-as-usual note scribbled on Mr E’s trailer door this weekend, it’s clearly not. The Force India team did not take part in second practice for the simple reason a close encounter with a protestor’s Molotov cocktail and ‘security forces’ tear gas deeply upset members of the team, two of whom have been flown home already. Force India did not want to work at the circuit and travel home after dark, especially on Friday, the day on which protests have traditionally escalated since the beginning of the ‘Arab Spring’ a year ago.

F1’s approach to the decision to go-ahead with the race after two cancellations last year has been to make it one of ‘personal security’. It’s simply refused to engage in the greater moral and political issues. You’ll have your view on whether that was correct or not and, arguably, there are other bodies better positioned and more relevant to pass comment. There is no UK government position, although calls from the leader of the opposition today might force them into one. There is not even a Foreign Office travel advisory.

But it is dangerous. Force India’s experience has shown that. And F1’s position, that it is not the one to judge the right and wrongs and need only concern itself with the safety of its family members, has been comprehensively undermined by the Force India incident and another similar alarm for the Sauber team.

No wonder then it looked and felt deeply uncomfortable in today’s two free practice sessions. It wasn’t just Force India who were absent. On Sky TV’s pictures the place looked like a ghost town, the main grandstand seemed to have five men in Hi-Vis vests for every spectator.

What did they miss? Well, potentially a small bounce from the off-form Red Bull team, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel following Rosberg home. Interestingly and once again, it was Webber ahead of the double-champ. What is going on in Seb’s head this year? They were followed by what are becoming the usual suspects in 2012 — Hamilton, Button and Schumacher – though by the time you get to Michael you are a second behind on the timesheets.

Schumacher himself continues to show a phlegmatic side we didn’t see – ever – in his first career, and he made a good point this week. With so many teams on-or-near the pace this year — Benz and McLaren certainly, Red Bull, Sauber, Lotus possibly — it only takes the tiniest drop in form for a team to fall a long way down the grid and/or the results. You have to be on it from the start of free practice one. That can’t be easy for anyone this weekend.

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Bernie will look like an idiot if protesters disrupt the race. It’s a big target for the protests.

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I think its a good decision… And I hope Bahrain can see that, and act in a respectful way, as the race will only do good things for it. Hope to see McLarens back on form as well.

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I commented on last week’s Chinese Grand Prix and predicted the Mercedes at the front. Although the one I predicted was the one belonging to MSC. This weekend, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Nico walks away with another victory. He has shown pace in FP2 and Qualifying could see the same result. So my QUALIFYING prediction (not race) is 1. ROSBERG 2. SCHUMACHER 3. HAMILTON 4. BUTTON 5. VETTEL

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i´m glad that the grand prix is taking place, so the protest in bahrain is part of international interest again. maybe this could help to stop the massacres in bahrain…
on the other hand, however, i don´t believe that it is good to support the economy of a state as bahrain by organising sport events like a formula one race…
my bet for the race: Mercedes and McLaren head to head, if mercedes has solved his tyre problems!! Vet will be in the top ten, but not the best five, alonso as well

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People of Bahrain: stop ruining the rest of the worlds entertainment, just because your country thinks it is wrong for a race to be done

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sorry for the people of Bahrin, but this ismotorsport
and i used to hate policitican in Northern Ireland, using
sport as a way to comdemmed thing.

What happening in Bahrin, is wrong and i do not condone
it at all.
but why blame Bernie Ecclestone, he did all the security checks
before hand. and when Bahrin pass them, he had no choice as
the Bahrin Grand Prix has a contract with F1.

We should not use sport, for change as that for the people
of Bahrin with help from Goverment around the world.
this tragedy would go on, with or without Formula one
out there.
if Bernie has done something, it he has cast light on a
subject that i knew nothing about.
F1 has help raise, the profile of the situation in bahrin.
well done bernie.

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Best of luck to everyone for qualifying tomorrow. Hopefully the FI guys are ok.

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Most all motor sport is expensive. It needs people with money, lots of money, to thrive. Bahrain has some people with lots of money. F1 is about fast cars and talented drivers compelled to be the best. These are the things that create a market for super cars. Why would the automotive industry want to alienate the best customers. “Everything is mercantile”

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the Bahrani “government” hoards all the property for their own lavish castles and they hoard the nations money for themselves the citizenry gets abused and they get murdered by the Saudi military! (Bahrain let the Saudis in to kill the peaceful protesters!)

And now the Bahranis get to see their nations wealth used to host an international grand prix sporting event which is supporting the oppressive fascists

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there is no way it should be going ahead. i hate to say it,but what if a petrol bomb blows up one of the teams when travelling back to the hotel and they get very badly injured.my predictions for quali in team order, mercedes,mclaren,lotus,re d bull,sauber,ferrari,willi ams,force india,toro rosso

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To all the daily mail reader types out there get your facts right before making judgements, I live in Bahrain and the media coverage is only half the story, if they did report the whole story then you would probably change your views.The race should go ahead and I look forward to watching it……

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looking forward to the race.
come on Fernado and Schuy.
please have good races.

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