Apr.10 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Many F1 insiders are now expecting next weekend’s Bahrain grand prix to be called off.
“We’re not going to Bahrain, the decision will be announced soon,” wrote Livio Oricchio, the correspondent for Brazil’s O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper.
In the wake of the latest reports about the ongoing political situation inside the island Kingdom, Oricchio said he expects the news about the race to be known “today or tomorrow”.
He referred to the direct threat made by the protest organising group February 14th Youth Coalition, who said it could not “ensure the safety” of the sport’s travelling members.
A spokesman for the international group Human Rights Watch admitted it is worried.
“On the ground we see an increasing number of deaths, and serious injuries from tear gas and beatings,” he is 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 is worried about his employees “and their families”, but an advisor to Bahrain’s interior ministry tried to play down those fears.
“People can be assured that if problems arise, then there will be a plan to deal with that as there would be with any public event in the world,” former London police assistant commissioner John Yates told the Associated Press.
But 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 FIA has said is that it is “monitoring” the situation, with it believed that contingency plans are in place so that F1 can cope with a cancellation decision made as late as this Saturday or Sunday.
The Bahrainis, meanwhile, are confident.
“We anticipate formula one will continue and hope it will be a success,” said government spokesman Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Mubarak al-Khalifa.
The Bahrain circuit’s Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa added: “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,” he told the Gulf Daily News.
“We are ready and there is a plan in place to ensure the safety of the teams, officials and fans.”