Earlier protests in Bahrain

Earlier protests in Bahrain, photo by Al Jazeera English

With MPs, Damon Hill, at least one team principal and team members and of course opposition protestors on one side and Bernie Ecclestone and Bahrain Grand Prix organisers on the other the argument over whether the Bahrian Grand Prix will or should go ahead continues.

 

Bahrain Grand Prix chairman Zayed Al Zayani has complained that ‘armchair observers’ and ‘scaremongering extremists’ are the ones creating alarm over the Sakhir event. When those questioning the event though include a UK MP and also Damon Hill who visited the country earlier in the year to see the situation for himself this is clearly not the case. An unnamed team principal has also been reported in the Guardian as saying “I feel very uncomfortable about going to Bahrain,” and raising concerns about safety of team’s staff.

 

If the safety of any team members or of spectators is in question the FIA have a responsibility to cancel the race and they said last week they ware monitoring the situation. Teams may be expecting that the FIA will have to cancel the race now as some have bought an extra set of tickets for staff to allow them to come straight back home after the Chinese race if the Bahrain race is cancelled. It is now less than two weeks until the race is due to be staged and equipment is likely to have already been sent to Bahrain, though some teams have reportedly had trouble obtaining insurance for their equipment while it is in the country.

 

Bernie Ecclestone may sound like a stuck record but at no time so far has he bought the staging of the Bahrain Grand Prix into doubt but he has repeatedly stated he has now doubts it will go ahead. Most recently he is reported as saying today (Tuesday 10th) that the teams are happy to race in Bahrain and that the race will go ahead. This was however following the explosion of a bomb in the capital Manama on Monday in which several policemen were injured. Though there is nothing to suggest that protesters will target anyone watching or working at the Grand Prix the potential for violence and injury are there and protests close to the circuit are expected. Bernie Ecclestone though stated that he had spoken to a team member who had been to the country and reported that ”everything is perfect”, though it is not clear how recently this person was there and what parts of the country they visited.

Bernie Ecclestone may know that it will fall to either the teams, the FIA or the Bahriani government to cancel the race in the end and he will have little control but he did say Tuesday that the final decision would be with the Formula One teams, though he also made it clear that if they attend the race they would be in breach of contract.