• Bahrain rescheduling

Bahrain circuit insists it could 'hold the race today'

ESPNF1 Staff
May 31, 2011 « First points of 2011 'bittersweet' - Williams | »

The chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit insists his venue is ready to hold a grand prix and has asked the FIA's World Motor Sport Council to reschedule its race for later this year.

The final decision will be made on Friday when the FIA meets in Barcelona to discuss the issue, with the state of emergency in the island kingdom set to be lifted on Wednesday. On Tuesday the chairman of the circuit, Zayed Rashid Alzayani, told the Associated Press that his country is ready to "hold the race today".

"We feel we are in position to have that event back," Alzayani added. "Things have calmed down tremendously in Bahrain. Life is back to normal. We are happy to have the race anytime really."

Over the weekend Bernie Ecclestone told CNN that he would do everything he could to get the race back on the calendar if the circumstances are right.

"If there's peace there and they're happy, we're happy to compromise and make things happen for them," he said.

He added: "We've always tried to keep out of politics and religion and things like that. I don't really know and I don't know if people have ever found out exactly what the problems are. All you can do is hear what people report but sometimes these things are not reported that accurately. So I don't know."

Asked if F1 would make a political stand if the reports turn out to be true, Ecclestone said: "I think it would be difficult to do that, but we'd have to say let's do something to keep everybody peaceful."

Alzayani believes the grand prix will bring joy back to the country and provide a welcome boost to its economy.

"We went through a rough patch and we need nice moments in our history now for the nation," Alzayani said. "Formula One has always been a time where Bahrain showcases itself to the world not only as a sports arena but as society, a community that Bahrain as a nation has to offer. Formula One can bring back joy to the country."

However, there are some indications that the streets of Manama will not return to normal after Wednesday. A spokesman for a leading Shia party told Radio 4's Today Programme on Monday that the protests will not fade away.

"I think the people will advance - fast [or] slow," Khalil Ebrahim al-Marzooq said. "This is history and this, I think, is the moment in this region so the people will not succumb. Especially the Bahraini people, they never surrender. Maybe they keep quiet for some time but they will march again and I think June will have some surprises."

It emerged recently that 24 of the circuit's employees were detained following the original protests in February, but Alzayani played down the significance of the story.

"There were some employees detained but they were not all Shiites. Some were Sunnis," he said. "We still have employees working who are Shiite, Sunnis and Christians. We never looked at race or sect thing. We look at productivity and loyalty to the job. They weren't detained because they were Shiite but because they had cases against them. Some have been released. Some are still under detention."

If the race is rescheduled it will likely take place on October 30, with the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, set to take place on that date, being made the season finale on December 11.

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