Two F1 journalists tried their hands at war reporting after touching down in Bahrain ahead of this weekend’s controversial grand prix.
“I had a duty as an experienced journalist to see such an incident with my own eyes,” said PA Sport’s Ian Parkes, who filed a detailed account of a protest about ten kilometres from the capital Manama on Monday.
“We’re journalists at end of day. That’s our job,” he said, also referring to the Daily Mirror’s Byron Young, who accompanied him to the non-F1 related protest.
Parkes detailed an account of violence in Bahrain, with Young revealing on Twitter that he “smelled Molotov cocktails and tasted teargas, wondering what the hell F1 is doing in Bahrain”.
Parkes, however, said that when they returned to the capital Manama there was “normal life. Virtually nobody here would know what has just occurred”.
Bahrain’s F1 track boss Zayed Alzayani said he thinks other journalists will see more ‘normal life’ when they arrive throughout this week.
“I think seeing is believing,” he told the Bahrain news agency BNA. “I just talked to Christian Horner and he has a team there already, and things are normal. They went out for dinner last night and everything is ok.”
Staff working for Formula One Management have been in Bahrain for several days and “Bernie (Ecclestone) said everything is fine”, added Alzayani.
The Times correspondent Kevin Eason is also already in Bahrain, and he said he counted more than twenty police vehicles on the highway to the Sakhir circuit.
“Protesters will be lucky to get near the formula one circus,” he wrote, revealing that the military has been seen this week at Sakhir “complete with body armour and high-velocity weapons”. No one here is taking a chance with the Bahrain grand prix.”
“We have not seen anything,” agreed team member John Ayers, who along with Nathan Japp is helping to set up Red Bull’s garage. “There is obviously a lot of security around the circuit and you can see the big hotels where the VIP guests will be staying have stepped up their efforts. They are really on their guard. Apart from that, it is all quiet,” he explained. “We have not seen or heard any disturbances, although we know things go on in the villages at night.”