Last weekend in Shanghai an ex-F1 driver I respect a great deal told me to ‘be careful’ and ‘back off’ on my Bahrain tweeting.
Although like many F1 VIPs he is on good terms with the Bahraini royal family, there was nothing sinister in his message – he was trying to do me a favour, and I guess protect me from any potential backlash from whoever might be monitoring what the media has been saying about the Bahrain GP. And perhaps more importantly about the decision makers who have ensured that the race is going ahead.
Although I’ve voiced the odd opinion on Twitter in recent weeks, I have for the most part been the messenger, referring people to news stories or video clips they might not have seen yet.
That process seems to have accelerated today as inevitably the story has switched into another gear. It’s due in no small part to the hard work of some of my British F1 media colleagues, who have spared no effort to get to the heart of what is going on in Bahrain.
If the authorities here thought that the FIA accredited journalists they are hosting this week were going to write solely about the race, they were mistaken. We are only on Wednesday, and already a lot of negative headlines are emerging from the country, and the opposition has had a chance to get its message across.
The guys have not only witnessed street activity for themselves, they have talked to people at the very heart of the story, on both sides.
So a big shout out in particular to Alan Baldwin (Reuters), Tom Cary (Daily Telegraph), Kevin Eason (The Times), Ian Parkes (Press Association) and Byron Young (Daily Mirror) for their efforts this week. Most if not all have had to deal with critics who say they should stick to their day jobs, but the story of what’s been happening in Bahrain is so intertwined with the F1 race, it is impossible to ignore.
Some might contest the comparison, but there are echoes of Munich 1972 in that reporters who came to cover a sporting event have found themselves writing about something far from their usual experience, and done it with skill and fine judgement.
Let’s hope that the quality of the journalism is the only comparison we have to make this week.