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Bahrain GP chairman critical of teams, Mosley and Webber

NEWS STORY
13/07/2011

Visiting Silverstone for the British Grand Prix, Bahrain Grand Prix chairman Zayed Alzayani has hit out at those he feels are responsible for the cancellation of his race.

In an astonishing interview with the Evening Standard, virtually no-one escapes criticism as Alzayani accuses various parties of hypocrisy.

While many have criticised the human rights side of the Bahrain debate, pointing out that F1 has no issue visiting other countries, such as China and Turkey, with poor records, Alzayani is a little more forthright.

"They're going to the US next year," he says. "What about Guantanamo? Isn't that human rights violation? As Bernie told me, 'If human rights was the criterion for F1 races, we would only have them in Belgium and Switzerland in the future'."

Referring to the teams, who eventually called for the race to be cancelled for logistical reasons, he said: "They have been very temperamental. I feel disappointed because it cannot go within three months from one end of the spectrum, 'Oh, you are my favourite destination. We love it here. We feel like we are at home in Bahrain.' To the other, 'We don't want to go to Bahrain.' Yes, events have happened in between but you can't be so temperamental."

Ant then there's former FIA president Max Mosley, who, in addition to offering the sport a get-out in the form of reminding them that the correct procedures had not been followed, was also highly critical of the FIA's fact finding mission to Bahran, headed by Carlos Gracia, the Spaniard - naively according to most - giving the country a clean bill of health.

"That shows you how naive Max Mosley is," says Alzayani. "There were translators there. I don't have to speak Chinese to do business in China. Max is very vocal and not accurate. He talks about morality... if I was him, I would probably not use the word 'morality'.

"I think Max has a grudge against Bahrain because he was officially asked by the Crown Prince not to attend the grand prix," he continues. "It happened very close to our grand prix. He planned to show up and, being head of the FIA, it was thought he better not show up in Bahrain."

The only driver to speak out over Bahrain was Mark Webber, the Australian making it clear that in his opinion F1 shouldn't be in the country "while people were being killed", naturally, Alzayani had a few words for the Red Bull driver. "Doesn't Australia have issues with the Aborigines?" he said. "I don't see Mark Webber talking about that. Why Mark Webber went against Bahrain I don't know. He's raced in Bahrain many times and he's always loved it. We've never had any criticism in the previous seven grands prix. We've always been getting high marks for our organisation, everyone involved at F1 loves it.

"Bahrain shouldn't be confused with the fight for democracy that is going on in other parts of the Middle-East," he continued, referring to the so-called Arab Spring. "There are two types of Middle-East. You've got Tunisia and Egypt, which are nationalistic movements. Then you've got Libya, Yemen and Syria, whose three leaders are using everything in their arsenal to stay in power. You see people being killed every day. Bahrain is neither.

"His Majesty (King Hamad) is not Gaddafi or Assad. He has lifted the emergency and appointed highly reputable international judges to look into the situation. There is a national dialogue going on."

Finally, whilst admitting that the new look Silverstone deserves its place on the calendar, so too, he feels, does Bahrain.

"At Silverstone you feel the race only on the track," he says. "You don't see anything at the airport, maybe a small banner, nothing in London. You come to Oxford Street, nobody knows the grand prix is on. If this was the race weekend in Bahrain, you would see posters and fliers and advertisements in every shopping mall, in every corner of the town. To us, the grand prix is definitely the biggest event of the year.

"We anticipate it all year long, it puts Bahrain on the map, transforms the nation and changes the mood of the people. It is bigger than your Silverstone, the FA Cup, the Derby, the Grand National all rolled into one."

Then again, one might argue, that despite the lack of promotion, even in Oxford Street, 315,000 fans turned up at Silverstone over the course of the GP weekend... imagine the crowds had the organisers stuck up a few posters and fliers.

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