F1 'a uniting force' for Bahrain
Taking the Formula 1 Grand Prix to Bahrain will help "unite" the country following recent unrest, a senior member of the Gulf state's ruling regime has said.
But the former president of the sport's FIA governing body, Max Mosley, said taking the race to Bahrain in October was not acceptable and there was not "the slightest chance" of it going ahead.
The FIA's governing council sparked controversy by announcing that the event - postponed because of protests in the capital, Manama - will be staged on October 30. But Mr Mosley insisted that the plan cannot go ahead without the unanimous agreement of the F1 teams.
He said: "The problem with Bahrain is that the Grand Prix would be being used by the regime in order to further its aims, so it almost becomes an instrument of the regime oppressing the people who are being badly treated. That's why it goes beyond what we can accept as a sporting body."
Mr Mosley added: "I don't think there is the slightest chance that the Grand Prix will actually happen, because you can't change the calendar in the way that's proposed to change it without the unanimous support of the teams."
Sheikh Mohammed bin Isa al Khalifa, the head of Bahrain's Economic Development Board, who played a big role in bringing Formula 1 to the state in 2004, insisted that the race would help bring people together.
He said: "Yes, we have been through a difficult period of time and, yes, we take all the concerns people have with seriousness. The government is committed to reform and committed to political development.
"The objective of hosting the Grand Prix is actually to unite the people of Bahrain. The opposition themselves have actually said that - the largest opposition party in Bahrain that holds half the seats in Parliament.
"We have been through a difficult period. For us hosting the Grand Prix is a uniting force. There is a commitment to resolve the issues in an open and transparent way - this is His Majesty (King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa)'s call for dialogue, where all people can come and sit in a civilised way, discuss the problems we have had, discuss how to deal with them and unite to find a peaceful way forward.
"Sport is one of the great uniters in the world. Let's use it for what it is, as a source of good and excitement and change. It brings out the best in all of us."