The Bahrain Grand Prix is scheduled for later this month. F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone says it’s a go; leading drivers say they feel safe. But domestic protests against the Gulf kingdom’s government continue casting a large shadow over the event. And now former driving champion Damon Hill – who once supported the race – says it might create more problems than it solves.
The 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix is only two weeks away. The race was canceled last year because of the internal strife. But now, Formula One officials – including top man Bernie Ecclestone – as well as Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel and seven-time F1 driving champion Michael Schumacher say the course is safe, and they see no reason to cancel the race.
Former driving champion Hill – who had previously backed running the race on the 2012 schedule – told the Guardian newspaper that he thinks FIA should reconsider. According to the news report, Hill said “It would be a bad state of affairs, and bad for Formula One, to be seen to be enforcing martial law in order to hold the race.” Hill said since the protests have not abated, and the situation in Bahrain has become “a more worrying state of affairs.” However, he stopped short of calling for the race to be called off.
Bahrain International Circuit officials are going ahead with plans for the race, including announcing the entertainment lineup – which among other attractions will include bagpipe rock band Red Hot Chili Pipers, and a 36-meter free fall and swing across the F1 village.
Preparations came as demonstrations over the weekend left one protester dead and the Twittersphere lighting up with hashtags like #BloodyF1, and #NoF1. Also, imprisoned Bahraini activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja is in the eighth week of a hunger strike and one human rights group says he could die in jail.
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The Bahrain Grand Prix is scheduled for later this month. F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone says it’s a go; leading drivers say they feel safe. But protests against the government continue.
David Byrd is a journalist, writer, video editor and photographer. He is also the host of VOA's American Cafe, a weekly show covering life and culture in the United States.