Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

FIA says F1 Bahrain GP to go ahead

Ferrari's Felipe Massa during the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain

Formula One's governing body, the FIA, has said the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead as planned despite ongoing political instability in the country and threats by some groups to disrupt the event.

In a statement the FIA said: "Based on the current information the FIA has at this stage, it is satisfied that all the proper security measures are in place" and that "therefore, the FIA confirms that the 2012 Gulf Air F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain will go ahead as scheduled."

The race will be held on April 22 at the Sakhir circuit.

The statement said FIA president Jean Todt visited Bahrain in November last year and had met elected Shia members of parliament, the president of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, ambassadors from the European Union countries, the Crown Prince, the Interior Minister and local businessmen to discuss the political situation of the country and viability of the race.

"All expressed their wish for the Grand Prix to go ahead in 2012, and since then, the FIA has kept in close touch with all these stakeholders.

"Away from the public eye, the FIA has received regular security briefings from the most senior diplomatic officials based in the kingdom as well as from other independent experts."

The FIA said it had received no request from the Bahraini government or the F1 commercial rights holder, led by Bernie Ecclestone, to cancel the event.

It was cancelled last year, and pressure had been growing for a similar withdrawal in 2012 because of ongoing clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters in the sectarian dispute. The crackdown has left at least 50 people dead.

Ecclestone, however, said at this weekend's Chinese GP that he saw no need for F1 to avoid Bahrain. He plans to meet with the F1 teams on Friday for discussions, but stressed that wouldn't change the situation.

"I don't see any difference between here (China) and Bahrain," Ecclestone said. "It's the same. It's another race on the calendar."

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