Bahrain GP cleared despite safety row

Updated: 13 April 2012 11:26 IST

The Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead next week as planned, Formula One's world governing body said on Friday, despite clashes and fears it could be targeted by anti-government demonstrators.

Bahrain GP cleared despite safety row

Shanghai:

The Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead next week as planned, Formula One's world governing body said on Friday, despite clashes and fears it could be targeted by anti-government demonstrators.


The FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) said safety concerns had been addressed following year-long protests which caused the race to be called off last season.

"Based on the current information the FIA has at this stage, it is satisfied that all the proper security measures are in place for the running of a Formula One world championship event in Bahrain," a statement on its website said.

"Therefore, the FIA confirms that the 2012 Gulf Air F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain will go ahead as scheduled."

The race in Bahrain, which is on April 22, has overshadowed the lead-up to Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai and many teams are believed to have grave concerns about the upcoming event in the desert state.

It was postponed last year after protests against the government erupted, and was later removed from the 2011 schedule.

Bahrain says it is now safe, but there has been a recent upsurge in violence and mounting sectarian tensions once again, including a bomb blast Monday that wounded seven police officers and a revenge attack on Shiite villagers.

Washington said this week that it was "deeply concerned" and United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on Thursday criticised "the excessive use of force" against protesters.

But the FIA, which has been under growing pressure to decide whether to hold the race, said it was confident enough to give the grand prix the green light.

"The FIA ensures that... the safety of the public, officials, drivers and teams is secured at all times during an event," its statement said.

"The FIA must make rational decisions based on the information provided to us by the Bahraini authorities and by the commercial rights holder. In addition we have endeavoured to assess the ongoing situation in Bahrain."

It said FIA president Jean Todt led a fact-finding mission to the kingdom in November, meeting the interior minister, members of the royal family, European ambassadors and members of the business community.

"All expressed their wish for the grand prix to go ahead in 2012, and since then, the FIA has kept in close touch with all these stakeholders," FIA said.

"Away from the public eye, the FIA has received regular security briefings from the most senior diplomatic officials based in the kingdom as well as from other independent experts."

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone said on Thursday in Shanghai that the race would go ahead. Ecclestone, the commercial rights holder, is expected to hold talks with teams on Friday, although he denies Bahrain is on the agenda.

Most drivers have kept tight-lipped over the prospects of racing in Bahrain, saying publicly that they would respect any FIA decision and were confident the governing body would keep the event safe.

Australian Mark Webber, the Red Bull driver, said on Thursday that there were security and moral issues to consider.

"There's no beating around the bush, it is sensitive out there," he said, attempting to pick his words carefully.

"We can only go on what the FIA are reading into the situation and obviously we are putting in an enormous amount of trust -- I don't mean 'we' the drivers, I'm talking about you guys, photographers, caterers, everybody going...

"Clearly there are some massive decisions to be made and it looks like they are being made, and let's hope it goes well."



Topics : Formula 1 Brawn McLaren Honda Michael Schumacher Giancarlo Fisichella Sepang International Circuit Lewis Hamilton
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