Ecclestone concerned about strife in Bahrain

By on Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Feb.15 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone on Tuesday refused to say the 2011 season opener in Bahrain next month will not be called off due to strife in the island Kingdom.

Inspired by recent anti-government revolts in Egypt and Tunisia, thousands of pro-democracy protesters are clashing with riot police armed with tear gas and batons, and three people have reportedly already been killed.

The vice president of Bahrain Center for Human Rights was quoted on Tuesday as warning that the grand prix next month "is not going to be peaceful".

Asked if the event might have to be called off, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said: "I have no idea. It's hard to establish exactly what is going in."

The Briton said he has been trying to contact Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman ibn Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa.

"He is a bit busy, as you can imagine, so I don't know yet exactly what is going on," Ecclestone told the Daily Telegraph.

"The danger is obvious isn't it? If these people wanted to make a fuss and get worldwide recognition it would be bloody easy, wouldn't it? You start making a problem on the start grid in Bahrain and it would get worldwide coverage," he added.

"As I say, I'm speaking with the Crown Prince later on. We're watching events closely. We'll rely on what they think the right thing to do is," said Ecclestone.

Bahrain's Sakhir circuit is scheduled to host a round of the GP2 Asia series this weekend, before the F1 circus arrives next month for its season opener and a pre-race test.

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