• Bahrain Grand Prix

Bahrain predicts 'life as normal' at 2012 race

ESPNF1 Staff
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The Automobile Federation of Bahrain is confident its race will be as safe as any other grand prix © Getty Images
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Organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix are confident the race will go ahead without any problems and have revealed they will not be taking any extra security measures above and beyond what they usually have in place.

Last year's Bahrain Grand Prix was postponed and eventually cancelled after political unrest, but F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has remained adamant in recent weeks that this year's race will go ahead. Reports from Manama suggest the situation on the ground is not as volatile this year and the president of the Automobile Federation of Bahrain, Sheikh Abdullah bin Isa Al Khalifa, insists the race will run to plan.

Asked by the Press Association if there would need to be an increase in security, Al Khalifa said: "No, absolutely not. It will be life as normal. We've never had any violence towards foreigners simply because they are foreigners or in F1. There is no violence towards guests of the country, and I don't think there will be any disruption or danger to anybody coming into Bahrain."

He said there could never be an absolute guarantee of safety, but argued it was the same for all races around the globe.

"Of course, there are no guarantees in this world. You could be anywhere, even Silverstone. All I can guarantee you is you will be as safe as at any other grand prix."

Al Khalifa did not deny there had been problems, but said personnel in Formula One would not be able to notice a difference between life in Bahrain now and life in Bahrain when they last visited.

"There are disturbances, and they are youths who need to be handled and led in a proper and right way," he added. "They need to know if they have concerns, problems, there are proper channels and procedures that can deal with them. They will not achieve their goals by disrupting the lives of family, friends, neighbours, or anybody who comes to the country. But then we've had these youths doing what they are doing since 2004.

"There is a small element of society that has unfortunately been shown a way to demonstrate in this form. Yes, the events of February 14 last year (the Day of Rage) inflamed matters, but we've never had an issue with Formula One, which has been visiting our country since 2004. People keep asking me about Bahrain, and I appreciate their apprehension, but anybody who has been there before and comes now will see there is no difference.

"It is why I'm hoping for the race to come as quickly as possible, just to let this community (in Formula One) see and feel what is really going on in Bahrain. I know all eyes are on us, but for me I feel there is a buzz going on in the country to rally around Formula One. So my message to Formula One is 'be part of unifying my country'.

"We've had our share of trouble, people have made mistakes, but it is time to reconcile, to move on and come out stronger and more united."

But he did not rule out the possibility of peaceful protests taking place during the grand prix weekend, as tactic Ecclestone suggested they could follow to maximise media attention.

"Bernie is right," Al Khalifa added. "All they have to do is go through the proper procedures and say 'we intend to do this and this'.

"We have rallies every weekend that are authorised, so do what you have to do and stand by the side of the road and have your placards. That's no problem. I'm happy for them to protest, but be peaceful and orderly, without disrupting the lives of anybody around you. It's their right."

Speaking at the Malaysian Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher said he was not worried about travelling to Bahrain.

"I'm honestly pretty relaxed to go there," he said. "From our perspective, one is obviously that we're going to be very well looked after, because they might foresee whatever and will be prepared. I've quite a few good friends over there and I'm pretty sure that for them it's a very important event and they just want to make everybody happy.

"If you look around the world, you probably find other places where there might be the possibility that we could have the same reasons to think about and we don't. So at the end of the day, I'm pretty sure that they're going to do their utmost and we're going to be OK."

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