• Bahrain Grand Prix

Formula One teams prepare plans to ditch Bahrain

ESPNF1 Staff
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Violent clashes have been taking place in Bahrain between protestors and police © Press Association
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Formula One teams have drawn up plans to abandon the Bahrain Grand Prix amid growing concerns over the deteriorating security situation in the Gulf state, according to a report in the Times.

Until this weekend the FIA and race organisers have maintained a firm line that all was well and the race weekend was not under threat but that changed with a statement from the FIA saying it is "constantly monitoring and evaluating the situation".

A report in the Times claims that teams have been issued with two tickets for travel after the Chinese Grand Prix next weekend. One takes them, as planned, to Bahrain while a second ticket is for a return journey home.

It is also possible that insurance concerns, which were key to the decision to scrap the 2011 race, may also come to the fore. Escalating unrest may cause a number of firms to reassess the risk of insuring millions of dollars of equipment in such a volatile state.

While organisers in Bahrain may have a vested interest as they are keen to use the race to promote progress in the country, the FIA says it is happy to trust the judgement of the local authorities. "The FIA is the guarantor of the safety at the race event and relies, as it does in every other country, on the local authorities to guarantee security. In this respect we have been repeatedly assured by the highest authorities in Bahrain that all security matters are under control."

The slick and expensive media campaign waged by the Bahrain organisers seemed to have won over enough critics in recent months, but fresh reports of violence against protestors has led to many to rethink. Having said it was safe to go to Bahrain back in January, Damon Hill changed his stance this week while several British MPs have also called for the race to be cancelled.

Mubarak Al-Khalifa, a government spokesman and a member of the royal family, said: "The only concern we have is that a popular sport is being used as a political tool by violent protestors. I can assure fans the race is going ahead."

Meanwhile, one of Bahrain's youth opposition movements, The February 14th Youth Coalition, has issued a warning to F1's sponsors, organisers and spectators, saying that it will not be able to ensure their safety. The message posted on Facebook also said that the organisers of the race would be considered a part of "the Khalifi bloody and criminal system".

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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