Team principals hoping the FIA calls Bahrain race off

By on Monday, April 9, 2012

One of the team principals of a Formula One team has spoken to The Guardian about the continuing problem of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The team principal, who spoke to the UK-based newspaper anonymously said that rival teams are against returning to the Sakhir Circuit for the first time since trouble broke out in 2011.

"I feel very uncomfortable about going to Bahrain," he said. "If I'm brutally frank, the only way they can pull this race off without incident is to have a complete military lock-down there. And I think that would be unacceptable, both for Formula One and for Bahrain. But I don't see any other way they can do it."

"We're all hoping the FIA calls it off," he added. "From a purely legal point of view, in terms of insurance and government advice, we are clear to go. But what we find worrying is that there are issues happening every day. I saw an interview with a human rights activist on BBC World, and he said that there would be demonstrations and that they would be peaceful. But that is the way all demonstrations start off.
"Other team principals are going through the same worries. I spent all last week making sure the insurances are right so I can reassure the teams. I've sent out an email to our legal department to make sure all our employees are covered for acts of terrorism and civil disorder while travelling to, during and coming back from the Bahrain GP.

"We have a lot of people. Our first and foremost priority has to be our employees. And their families. That's what concerns us most, even though we've not said anything about it. It seems to me that while there has been some political progress in Bahrain they're not quite ready. The best thing would be for the race to be postponed until later in the year, or even cancelled.

"But that is a decision that must be made by the FIA, FOM [Formula One Management] and the commercial rights holder. I never anticipated a decision being made until the week before China. I believe Jean Todt is in China, which is interesting."

Ultimately, the decision will be made by the FIA, and a spokesman for the governing body has now admitted it is "constantly monitoring and evaluating the situation" in Bahrain.

Interestingly, the Guardian said FIA president Jean Todt will be in China this weekend. The teams are currently scheduled to travel directly from China to Bahrain for the second leg of a back-to-back double header.

Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, the chief executive of Bahrain's circuit, sounds confident.

"The FIA and Bernie (Ecclestone) have never shown any doubts about our race," he told The National.

"I do see there is fear, but I just wish such people would listen to those who have the information -- maybe not us, because we as a circuit are perhaps not perceived as an objective voice, but there are other people who know the region and know the situation and they are saying that this race should go ahead."


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