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Webber speaks out over Bahrain

NEWS STORY
05/06/2011

Mark Webber, the only driver to speak out over Bahrain, remains confident that F1 will not go there this year.

In a world where drivers tend to look at their feet whilst mumbling platitudes that mirror the party line, Red Bull's Mark Webber has been the one voice willing to speak out in recent times. Even as late as Friday, ahead of the meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, the Australian was urging the sport to take heed of what is happening in Bahrain. "When people in a country are being hurt, the issues are bigger than sport," he tweeted.

Now, speaking in the wake of the vote to return to Bahrain in October, and amidst growing condemnation of that decision, Webber has spoken out yet again.

"Even though a decision has been made, I'll be highly surprised if the Bahrain Grand Prix goes ahead this year," he wrote on his personal website. "In my personal opinion, the sport should have taken a much firmer stance earlier this year rather than constantly delaying its decision in the hope of being able to reschedule it in 2011. It would have sent a very clear message about F1's position on something as fundamental as human rights and how it deals with moral issues.

"It's obvious that the parties involved have struggled to reach a decision," he continues, "but sadly I feel that they still haven't made the right one. Like it or not, F1 and sport in general isn't above having a social responsibility and conscience. I hope F1 is able to return to Bahrain eventually but now isn't the right time.

"As a competitor I do not feel at all comfortable going there to compete in an event when, despite reassurances to the contrary, it seems inevitable that it will cause more tension for the people of that country. I don't understand why my sport wishes to place itself in a position to be a catalyst for that."

His comments come at a time when the mainstream media is devoting its editorials to the decision, condemning it to a man. It also comes at a time when a number of online petitions are urging the sport not to go. Indeed, there is even a petition directed at Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz, calling on he and his team to boycott the event.

Then there is the teams' alliance, the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) which has made it clear that it has concerns and is to discuss the issue.

In a radio interview with Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, recorded after Friday's announcement from the FIA, he revealed that the day of the proposed race (October 30) has been declared 'A Day of Rage' - the term that was used previously by protesters when the troubles began some months ago.

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