Ecclestone: Bahrain Grand Prix to Stay on Calendar for Many Years

April 23, 2012

Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone has held his firm belief that the Bahrain Grand Prix will continue for many years and Formula One will grow in stature in that part of the world.

The race had made damning headline news all week as protesters have clashed with police, anti-government and anti-F1 rallies have been staged, and ultimately one demonstrator was killed, so the dissidents claim, by riot police, but the race itself passed without incident.

This had cast an ugly shadow over F1 and Bahrain for not keeping their political affairs away from sport.

Ecclestone, however, has insisted Bahrain and the Middle East remain important for F1 as he said: “It’s growing all the time, and other places are interested.

“I think it will grow here for sure. You know what they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

The Bahrain International Circuit claimed there were 28,000 paying customers inside the circuit, a surprise given the main grandstand – which appeared to be the only one in use – was only half-full.

But after staging a race many felt should have been cancelled, chairman Zayed Al Zayani was able to finally smile.

“Hosting such a big event would not be possible without the enormous hard work of all involved,” said Al Zayani.

“That includes the marshals, other volunteers and my team at the BIC, and I would like to thank all of them for their efforts.I’m pleased to say we have had a great level of support for this race weekend.

“An independent survey released this week showed that 77% of Bahrainis support the race. In addition to this, there are very few countries that can claim that almost 10% of its population attends its grand prix.

“Given these facts, and the incredible atmosphere at the track today, there can be no doubt in my mind of what Bahrain thinks about F1.”

by Ismail Uddin