To be sure, scandal has always been with us. The annals of British history are littered with the names of great national hellraisers, from Vinnie Jones to Gazza and beyond. However, there is a difference. Recent distasteful behaviour in sport, whether it be the English rugby team tossing midgets, or the bout of al fresco relief with which I began this article, betrays cultural problems, not individual misdemeanours...
Beneath the royal weddings, Formula One races and other events that bore many normal people (myself included), the Anglo-Bahraini relationship is purely material. Bahrain has at least ten years of oil reserves left, and produces 40,000 barrels a day, representing a serious resource pool for British energy needs.
Like last year and the year before that (when the Bahrain race was cancelled), the imminent arrival of hi-tech racing cars, celebrity drivers, harassed team crews (and doubtless several crates of soon-to-be-wasted Moët) on the tiny island state of Bahrain has now become an annual occasion for examining the country's human rights record. That record, like the famous Formula One finishing flag, is ... well, extremely chequered.
Formula One has a certain amount of specification to it and there is no doubt about that fact but unless it becomes a much more regulated and specified sport, like NASCAR, it will be very difficult to avoid the development war which will escalate costs and separate the herd of have's and have not's.
Silverstone. The home of the British Grand Prix, but also the home of Formula One. If Monaco symbolises the glitz and glamour of F1, Silverstone is the history of F1.
Monaco is special. It is the symbol of everything Formula 1 is about: beauty, glamour, precision and reward. They have overhauled their pits complex in recent years to be in line with any other leading motor circuit and their marshals are the best in the world. The same can definitely not be said about the Spanish Grand Prix circuit.
F1 2012 looks set to be a very open championship. We've had four race winners so far and drivers such as Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber are not in that list of four. Kimi could win this year, and Michael Schumacher must surely break his winning drought. So many more questions are to be answered this year, and there are still 16 races to go...
There was some eloquent PR spin from Crown Prince Salman al-Khalifa as he took a leisurely stroll around the Sakhir circuit paddock with F1's boss, Bernie Ecclestone. Both were mobbed by reporters naturally hungry for comment on the political-cum-social-cum-sporting situation (or fiasco depending on your point of view) in the kingdom, but only one of them really made an effort to answer the questions and offer valid thoughts on Bahrain's problems.