Date: 10th April 2012 at 2:58pm
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For months Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has attempted to play down fears over the future of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

With the race edging nearer, Ecclestone has remained defiant in his stance to continue ahead with the Bahrain Grand Prix, telling the BBC on Tuesday: ‘None of the teams have expressed any concern to me.’

That would appear to be in contradiction to the rumblings in the media that perhaps all the teams or drivers are not happy with the current situation in the region and are wondering if the event should be cancelled for a second season running.

The 2011 Formula One World Championship was set to hold its curtain raiser in Bahrain, but after political unrest in the country and surrounding regions, the event was initially postponed before being dropped.

A year on and Formula One is scheduled to return later this month, following on from this weekends Chinese Grand Prix, despite pressure from human rights campaigners and politicians in the United Kingdom to not hold the event over the past few months.

Members of the House of Lords have expressed their desire to see the Formula One race cancelled for a second year a couple of months ago and with tensions still high in the country, the vice president for Bahrain Center for Human Rights Nabeel Rajab has previously told a Arabian Business website that they would be calling for a boycott.

A couple of weeks ago, Ecclestone and a number of team principals met with Bahrain International Circuit chief executive Sheikh Salman bin Isa al-Khalifa and chairman Zayed R Alzayanifor for a lunch at the Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall and after the meeting Ecclestone once again reiterated that he had no concerns over the race.

But that has.t appeased the concerns of everyone in Formula One.

1996 Formula One World Champion and now pundit for Sky Sports Damon Hill told the Guardian newspaper: ‘Looking at it today you’d have to say that [the race] could be creating more problems than it’s solving.

‘The protests have not abated and may even have become more determined and calculated. It is a worrying state of affairs.’


In February there were violent clashes around the Bahrain capital of Manama to mark the first anniversary of pro-democracy protests.

Protesters threw petrol bombs and stones at the police, who used rubber bullets and tear gas to try and disperse the groups, while there have also been reports of violent attacks on the public.

Hill continued: ‘conditions do not seem to have improved, judging by the reports in our European newspapers, social media and on Al Jazeera TV.

‘The recent meeting to garner support for the race as a unifying event was troubling insofar as it tried to represent the rioting in Bahrain as the result of bad press reporting and as a ‘youth’ issue.

‘Promoting the race as ‘Uniting Bahrain’, whilst a laudable ambition, might be elevating F1 beyond even its own prodigious powers.’