Bahrain: Crown Prince to decide fate of Grand Prix

20/02/2011
NEWS STORY

Bernie Ecclestone has said that the decision as to whether the Bahrain Grand Prix goes ahead will be made by the country's Crown Prince.

With the teams appearing to have passed the buck to Ecclestone following their meeting in Barcelona on Friday evening, the F1 supremo now appears to be passing it on to the man at the epicentre of the problem, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

"He will know whether it's safe for us to be there," Ecclestone told the BBC. "I've no idea. I'm not there, so I don't know. We won't advise people to go unless it's safe."

The Crown Prince is the son of the King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifah and is the country's heir apparent. He is also the supreme commander of the country's defence force, which was withdrawn from the scene of the main protests - the Pearl Roundabout in Manama - yesterday.

However, while Ecclestone says it is the Crown Prince who will decide if it is safe, the British Foreign Office is already advising British nationals not to travel to Bahrain unless the trip is "essential". The American government has issued a similar warning to its nationals.

Meanwhile a number of teams are said to be unhappy with the situation and believe that the decision to cancel the race should be made now.

"The decisions over the next 72 hours are going to be absolutely critical for all of us," said Cosworth's Mark Gallagher, according to the Daily Telegraph. "If you look at the information that has emerged from the British and American governments in the last 24 hours, that's the kind of information the promoter, Bernie and the FIA will be taking on board in order to make the decision.

"All the teams want to have a race in Bahrain," he claimed. "But that comes secondary to what is clearly a very serious political situation, and it's not for us to dictate or comment on that situation."

Though few will admit it publicly, there is widespread feeling within the paddock that the race (and test) should be cancelled. However, the contracts the teams have with Formula One Management mean that if Ecclestone says the race goes ahead the teams are contractually obliged to take part. That said, it remains to be seen how some sponsors might feel about the event taking place.

For many, the site of the race winner grinning and spraying Warrd on the crowd from the podium in just a couple of weeks will not sit well alongside the Youtube clips of peaceful protestors being mercilessly gunned down by the security forces.

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Published: 20/02/2011
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