- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 16, 2013

SAKHIR, BAHRAIN (AP) - Formula One returns this week to Bahrain, casting the spotlight on a series that has defied criticism to race on while a bloody political crisis has engulfed one of the West’s most important allies in the region.

The Bahrain Grand Prix has drawn less attention than a year ago when F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone at the last minute decided to go ahead with the race despite calls by some rights groups for a boycott.

But criticism has intensified in the past week, after explosions sparked security concerns and a Human Rights Watch report alleged that authorities rounded up activists living around the track in a bid to “silence” dissent ahead of the race on Sunday.