(Inautonews.com/GMM) The FIA has signalled the green light but grey clouds of uncertainty continue to hang over the 2011 Bahrain grand prix.
After the World Motor Sport Council controversially agreed to reschedule the troubled island Kingdom’s race for late October, protest groups are now calling for a ‘Day of Rage’ to coincide with the event that in March was called off due to violence.
Britain’s sports minister Hugh Robertson has told the Telegraph the grand prix will be a “disaster” if it goes ahead.
Commentators were surprised last week when the major opposition party in Bahrain supported the rescheduling of the race.
Robertson said: “You can understand why opposition groups might want the race to go ahead if they are planning protests around it and this is a danger.”
Bahrain Centre for Human Rights president Nabeel Rajab said: “The people are very upset and already they have called the day of that racing as a Day of Rage where you come out everywhere and in every city of Bahrain to show anger towards the Bahrain government.
“We are going to use this event to expose the human rights violations in Bahrain and let the outside world know what’s happening here,” he said.
The F1 teams are already scheduling urgent talks, and it is likely that Ross Brawn’s view that the reinstatement is “totally unacceptable” will now be echoed within the paddock.
Renault boss Eric Boullier said he will take the team to Bahrain in October “as long as our safety and the security of the people living there is guaranteed”.
And certain high-profile sponsors might also boycott, according to an editorial in the Observer newspaper.
“It is time for those sponsoring the Bahrain grand prix … to step up to the mark and demonstrate that even if F1’s managers are struggling to find their conscience, its paymasters are not,” it read.
The Guardian’s Richard Williams said the 2011 Bahrain grand prix will compare to Hitler’s Olympic Games in 1936 and the Mexican massacre in 1968.
Grand Prix Drivers’ Association president Rubens Barrichello is quoted in the Finnish press: “I want to be absolutely convinced that safety there (in Bahrain) is guaranteed.
“At GPDA meetings, all the drivers expressed concern and required a security guarantee to go there,” he said.
Former FIA president Max Mosley is highly critical of his successor Jean Todt’s role in allowing Bahrain to go ahead.
“If formula one allows itself to be used in this way in Bahrain, it will share the regime’s guilt as surely as if it went out and helped brutalise unarmed protesters,” he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.
“The decision … is a mistake which will not be forgotten and, if not reversed, will eventually cost formula one dear.”
Outspoken driver Mark Webber is hopeful the decision will indeed be reversed.
“I’ll be highly surprised if the Bahrain grand prix goes ahead this year,” the Australian wrote on his website long after the decision was taken.