Nico Rosberg set the pace at the Bahrain International Circuit on Friday with Lewis Hamilton back in fourth place.

But the Bahrain F1 race is now not about winners and losers but all about politics, civil unrest and money. And it will probably be remembered that way with those who stand on the podium at the end of the two hour race fading in importance.

Two of the F1 teams, Force India and Sauber, have reported that they have had close encounters with the violence and rioting, but still the F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone insists that the race will go ahead.

The Crown Prince of Bahrain also wants the race to go ahead, otherwise it “would simply empower extremists” he said.

The leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband, has called for the race to be scrapped in the face of mounting violence and human rights violations. But the government does not agree and the Prime Minister, David Cameron, said that Bahrain was not Syria and that the government of Bahrain was fully behind internal political reform. The government has also not changed its advice that it is safe to visit the country.

In the past it has been argued that turning the cameras of the world on a country could change its politics for the better, such as South Africa with rugby and cricket. But running a race such as this, scant yards from violence, surely cannot be right.

In fact maybe the presence of the F1 road-show is fuelling the violence; with protestors knowing that the more violence there is the more they will be seen.

It looks like the F1 circuit will be a fortress sports ground with rioters kept at bay with armed police. I wonder which way most of the cameras will be pointing?

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone