Last year, Bahrain's Grand Prix race was called off, even after it had been re-scheduled from February to June and other later dates. This was due to the civil unrest in the country which had by then claimed more than 40 lives and over 3,200 injured. However, on 24 November 2011, Bernie Ecclestone, boss of Formula 1, told the BBC that the Grand Prix would go ahead in 2012, despite lingering protests continuing, saying: "It's on the calendar. We'll be there, unless something terrible happens to stop us."
Despite lingering doubts and ongoing, intermittent disturbances - with claims that the death toll now exceeds 60 - the 2012 race is scheduled for 20-22 April and the Bahrain Grand Prix officials started selling tickets on 19 February.
Tuesday, 14 February 2012 marked the first anniversary of Bahrain's "Day of Rage" when, on the same date in 2011, a large section of the Kingdom's majority Shia population took to the streets of Manama, the capital, to demand greater political influence and further reforms, over and above those that had already been proposed by the King and his Government.
Initial attempts to disperse the large crowds on 14 February 2011, particularly at Manama's Pearl Roundabout, the city's biggest open space, were unsuccessful and the security forces of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, whose family has ruled Bahrain for some 200 years, became increasingly heavy-handed. With the crowds refusing to disperse and matters becoming increasingly violent, Bahrain's security forces did not retake the Pearl Roundabout and adjacent area until the 17 February, by which time many protesters in the crowd were calling for the overthrow of the monarchy.
Adding to government difficulties, Al Wefaq, a Shia Islamist party that formed the main opposition in Bahrain's Council of Representatives, having 18 of the 40 seats and a plurality of the votes cast in the 2010 Election, aligned with the protest movement and withdrew their members from the Council, the country's lower house of parliament.
The uprising could not properly be contained until mid-March 2011, when troops from the Gulf Cooperation Council entered Bahrain at King Hamad's request. Twelve hundred were sent from Saudi Arabia and 800 from the United Arab Emirates. After the suppression of the protest movement the authorities declared a state of martial law which lasted until 01 June.
In the light of his society and region, it is fair to say that King Hamad is an enlightened and progressive monarch and there is little doubt that the King was most distressed by the turmoil and its resultant deaths and casualties. In a speech made to the local media on the lifting of martial law, King Hamad called for "comprehensive, serious dialogue to begin" and promised that nobody would be harmed "due to his peaceful, civilised expression of opinion."
On 29 June 2011, the King appointed an Independent Commission of Enquiry with broad terms of reference to thoroughly investigate the February/March unrest. This was chaired by Professor M Cherif Bassiouni who had previously led similar United Nations enquiries in Bosnia and Libya.
The Enquiry's Report was issued on 23 November 2011 and stated that the Bahraini authorities had used "excessive force" during the crackdown and that a number of detainees had been tortured. There was also evidence that "Both the Government and the opposition have their share of responsibility in allowing events to unfold as they did." King Hamad vowed to do everything possible to ensure such events would not happen again.
The first anniversary saw thousands of protesters - though nothing like the scale of 2011 - and mostly youths from outlying Shiite villages, try to make their way to Pearl Square but once some of them started to throw petrol bombs, the Bahraini security forces drove them out and dispersed the crowds.
UniF1ed - One Nation in Celebration, the logo of Bahrain's Formula One Grand Prix may be somewhat on the optimistic side, but if Bernie and Bahrain have their way it's definitely going ahead and will be just the fillip this small island nation needs.