Wheels24

Upbeat Sakhir defies doomsayers

2012-04-10 09:13

Many F1 insiders are now expecting the 2012 Bahrain Formula 1 GP to be called off.

"We're not going to Bahrain, the decision will be announced soon," wrote Livio Oricchio, a correspondent for Brazil's O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper.

In the wake of the latest reports about the ongoing political situation inside the island kingdom, Oricchio said he expected the news about the race to be known "today or tomorrow".

RIGHTS WATCH WORRIED

He referred to the direct threat made by the protest organising group February 14th Youth Coalition which said it “could not ensure the safety" of the sport's travelling members.

A spokesman for the international group Human Rights Watch admitted worry. "On the ground we see an increasing number of deaths and serious injuries from tear-gas and beatings," he was quoted as saying by the BBC.

And the latest fears have been intensified by the explosion of a bomb that injured seven policemen on Monday and news that a jailed activist on hunger strike is now close to death.

An unnamed team boss admitted he was worried about his employees "and their families" but an adviser to Bahrain's interior ministry tried to play down those fears.

Former London police assistant commissioner John Yates told the Associated Press: "People can be assured that if problems arise there will be a plan to deal with it - as there would be with any public event in the world.”

IS BERNIE BACKING OFF?

However even Bernie Ecclestone, who will be in China this weekend, could now be stepping back from the controversy. "If the teams don't want to go, then we cannot make them," the F1 chief executive told The Times.

All the International Automobile Federation has said is that it is "monitoring" the situation. It believed contingency plans were in place even if the race were cancelled at short notice.

The Bahrainis, meanwhile, are confident. Government spokesman Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Mubarak al-Khalifa said: "We anticipate Formula 1 will continue and hope it will be a success.”

The Bahrain circuit's Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa told the Gulf Daily News: "The race is going ahead - there is no doubt about that. There are several reports doing the rounds that are saying a lot of things which are baseless.

"We are ready and there is a plan in place to ensure the safety of the teams, officials and fans."

GMM