Bahrain F1 Gets Green Light Amid Human Rights Protest Fears

February 16, 2011

The Formula One Grand Prix in Bahrain is still set to go-ahead amid fears that violent human rights protests will target the opening race of the F1 season to attract attention to their cause.

The race is scheduled to take place next month on March 13 at the Sakhir circuit, with the 12 teams set to travel for final pre-season tests on March 3. The civil unrest in the nation has seen two people lose their lives to date.

A spokesman for motor sport’s governing body, the FIA, stated: “We are monitoring the situation with the promoters and the authorities. The plan is for the grand prix to go ahead but our main concern will always be the safety of the teams and the spectators.”

Nabeel Rajab, the vice‑president of the campaign group – Bahrain Center for Human Rights, told the Arabian Business publication: “For sure F1 is not going to be peaceful this time. There’ll be lots of journalists, a lot of people looking and [the government] will react in a stupid manner as they did today and yesterday. And that will be bloody but will be more publicised. This will not stop, especially now when people [have] died. I don’t think it’s going to stop easily.”

Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One rights holder, has expressed his concern, saying in an Interview with the Daily Telegraph: “The danger is obvious, isn’t it? If these people wanted to make a fuss and get worldwide recognition, it would be bloody easy, wouldn’t it? You start making a problem on the start grid in Bahrain and it would get worldwide coverage. We’re watching events closely. We’ll rely on what they think the right thing to do is.”

The FIA added: “The FIA and Sheikh Abdulla Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, president of the Bahrain Motor Federation, are actively monitoring the situation in the lead-up to the grand prix in March. The primary concern is the safety of Bahraini citizens, spectators, teams, drivers and all those involved in the F1 race. Sheikh Abdulla is confident everyone is working hard to ensure the situation will be amicably resolved.”