The race exacerbates the human rights abuses that take place in Bahrain, with any protest or criticism being silenced to protect financial interests
Formula One’s new American owners have their work cut out for them. Bernie Ecclestone is out of the picture for the first time in 40 years, but the cracks in the empire he built began with his decision to take the grand prix to despotic countries.
The Bahrain Grand Prix is proving the achilles heel of the old Ecclestone policy, famously summed up with his question: “What human rights? I don’t know what they are.” Cancelled in 2011 after the government declared martial law to forcefully crush pro-democracy protests, the race returned in 2012 – but it was never the same. That year, the grand prix attracted protesters in the tens of thousands calling for its cancellation. On the eve of the race police shot dead father of five Salah Abbas. No one was ever held accountable for his death.