Though the result at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday was surprising, there were few incidents as Nico Rosberg took the lead at the start and kept it right until the end. It was the first win for the German, who finished 20 seconds clear of Jensen Button in second.
Formula One bosses will hope that next race, which takes place in Bahrain on April 22, is as trouble free as Shanghai.
For a while, it looked as if the Bahrain race wouldn’t take place at all. Teams, drivers and commentators had either expressed unease, or at least failed to express support, about going to the nation, where anti-regime protests that have seen at least 35 killed (activists say the figure is more than double) are still ongoing.
After a lengthy debate, it was announced last week by the sport’s governing body, the FIA, that the Bahrain event will indeed go ahead.
“Based on the current information the FIA has at this stage, it is satisfied that all the proper security measures are in place for the running of a Formula One World Championship event in Bahrain,” the statement read.
“Therefore, the FIA confirms that the 2012 Gulf Air F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain will go ahead as scheduled.”
According to reports, the decision isn’t backed enthusiastically by all in the sport.
Formula One actually missed the 2011 race as the Arab Spring was at its height. Amnesty International claimed the situation in the tiny Middle Eastern nation is no better.
“Despite the authorities’ claims to the contrary, state violence against those who oppose the Al Khalifa family rule continues. In practice, not much has changed in the country since the brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters in February and March 2011.”
Just last week, the funeral for Ahmed Ismaeel Abdulsamad, who was killed during anti-government protests, was attended by thousands. The 22-year-old citizen journalist was shot in the leg and then proceeded to bleed to death. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights announced he was shot by security forces as he took photographs of a protest.
The authorities deny this, claiming it was a case of civilian murder.
Ala’a Shehehabi described the funeral to CNN:
“It was seething with anger and full of anti-government chants,” she said. “As we were leaving the burial we were attacked by the riot police. We saw the police coming in and got in our car.”
From the beginning, Formula One Supremo Bernie Ecclestone, whose policy it was to take the sport away from its traditional European heartlands into Asia, has been adamant that the race should go ahead.
“I’ve never heard anything that would lead me to believe it isn’t [safe]. People who live there and work there on a daily basis tell me everything’s normal,” he said again last week.
“Things can change anywhere anytime, but I don’t imagine it will. I’d be very surprised if we have problems.
“They’re not protesting about F1. If we didn’t go, whatever problems there are…would they stop Monday morning? The answer’s no.”