Mosley on Bahrain: “F1 will share the regime’s guilt”

Former FIA president Max Mosley says that the decision to reinstate the Bahrain GP is a “mistake that will cost F1 dear.”

His comments are clearly aimed at his long time ally Bernie Ecclestone and also his successor at the FIA, Jean Todt. And while you might not have agreed with everything he’s said and done in the past, he does get to the point on this issue.

Mosley made his opposition to the Bahrain GP clear last week. Speaking in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper, Mosley says that sports administrators should steer clear of politics, noting that in this case F1 is being seen to support the Bahrain authorities.

“We will be told that holding the Grand Prix in October will show that, once again, Bahrain is a happy, peaceful country,” said Mosley in a first person column. “So why is it wrong for Formula One to go along with this? Why is this different to running an event in any number of countries where people are oppressed, kept in poverty, held without trial and mistreated (or worse) in prison?

“Surely the line has to be drawn when a sporting event is not mere entertainment in a less-than-perfect country, but is being used by an oppressive regime to camouflage its actions. If a sport accepts this role, it becomes a tool of government. If Formula One allows itself to be used in this way in Bahrain, it will share the regime’s guilt as surely as if it went out and helped brutalise unarmed protesters.”

Mosley goes on to describe how the initial peaceful protests were met with “brutal repression,” and how the Saudi Arabian was army called in.

“Having carried out these horrific acts, the Bahrain government wants to clean up its image. That’s where the Grand Prix comes in. By running the race they hope to show the world the troubles were just a small, temporary difficulty and everything is now back to normal.

“By agreeing to race there, Formula One becomes complicit in what has happened. It becomes one of the Bahrain government’s instruments of repression. The decision to hold the race is a mistake which will not be forgotten and, if not reversed, will eventually cost Formula One dear.”

Mosley’s full column can be found at


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11 responses to “Mosley on Bahrain: “F1 will share the regime’s guilt”

  1. Dave Myers

    I don’t always agree with Max, but he is absolutely right.

  2. Lopek

    It really is a testament to quite how far F1 has fallen with this decision when Max Mosley is a bright voice speaking complete sense.

    I think he’s nailed the situation completely, expertly explaining the difference between Bahrain and other races in other countries with questionable human rights records.

    • I think that’s the key. I continue to be flabbergasted by people saying ‘what about China, F1 goes there,’ never quite explaining if they mean Bahrain is alright, or we shouldn’t go to China either…

      In no way am I defending China, or anywhere else pinpointed by international organisations such as Amnesty, but they are completely different. As I’ve said before, the same people who run Bahrain also run the GP, and are close personal friends of Bernie/Todt/Dennis etc. Team principals go to parties at the palace every year, some VIPs stay there. To compare that with the Chinese GP (where the Olympic movement was happy to go three years ago) is a bit far fetched.

      • jonas

        Just a quick note to say how refreshing it is to have at least one F1 journalist speaking out about this decision. I’ve been watching your twitter feed with great interest. I get the impression that practically no one else wants to touch this subject, probably for fear of exposing their own ignorance.

        Well done, and thanks

  3. Luis

    100% agree !

  4. Jimmy

    On this Mad Max is 100% right.

  5. Brian

    Bernie says “Nothing to do with money at all. Nothing, in any shape or form.” Sure, Bernie. We all believe you

    Mr. Mosley is truly spot on but then this is the sport that bribed Ferrari with huge amounts of money to undercut FOTA’s negotiating position and to maintain Ferrari’s “special place” in the “sport”. So why should anyone be surprised by this? Business as usual amongst the world’s billionaires. Damn those annoying, uppity peasants…

    And as someone else said about this, what would Mosely’s position be if he really was still in charge?

  6. I think they should focus on safety issues. If it was a moral case, F1 wouldn’t have gone to China, or Hungary in 1986, or South Africa for long-long years.

    There are serious safety concerns that I have detailed here.

  7. liza

    I simply hope that having the Grand Prix on the schedule for October 30 will keep the world looking over Bahrain’s shoulder. Perhaps this will set the human rights bar a bit higher … and keep the international media interested in what’s going on over there.

  8. Andy c

    I think Adam hits the nail on the head. This is not at all like china or Russia.

    The very people at the head of this regime are in charge of the gp.

    Parties at the palace, greasing up to the crown prince on the BBC.

    Absolutely abhorrent (I know McLaren cannot rebel as they are financed heavily by the same funds) that f1 will go to Bahrain in October.

    Mark know that he does not have to rely on a long future in the game. It’s a shame some of the others cannot stand up.

    All too comfortable and away from these problems I’m afraid. Much like the oppressors themselves.

    Thank goodness for the likes of Adam and mark. And shame on jackie stewart ( who as friend to the family lacks a certain objectivity)

  9. Stone the crows

    Thanks for the post Adam. I don’t get the moral equivalency argument either. Probably because I think that at times bringing a sports venue like the Olympics or F-1 to a country like China actually helps the locals rather harm (there’s no such thing as a little bit of freedom). But in the case of Bahrain, it is a different even if all of the participants security can be assured, it is as Mark Webber said, ‘a catalyst’ for more violence against the government. Whether you are for or against this rebellion, why deliberately create an excuse for violence? Only one reason; well actually for Mr Ecclestone 40 million reasons.

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