Niki Lauda has said the F1 2011 season opener in Bahrain next month should not go ahead.

The viability of the event has come into question in light of civil unrest, with four people having been killed and several hundred injured in clashes between protesters and government security forces. The GP2 Asia Series event at the Bahrain International Circuit this weekend was scratched from the calendar in the interests of safety [see separate story - click here].

Speaking to German newspaper, Bild, Piquet said it would not be appropriate for the sport to go there: "This is all about democracy in the country," stated the three-time F1 world champion. "It would be wrong to suddenly burst into a sports event. We need to stay out of there."

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Williams chairman Adam Parr meanwhile said that while it would be a shame not to start the season on March 13, there is a lot more at stake.

"We would be very disappointed if we were unable to start our season in Bahrain," he told Reuters. "[But] we want to make a positive contribution to the countries that we visit - and our intention is always to be there as a positive presence. If that were not to be the case, we would not want to make a negative impact.

"Clearly if F1 were to become a focal point of unrest, that would be a concern. It's not just about the safety of those involved but being sensitive to what is going on in the country."