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Todt leaves room for manoeuvre on Bahrain GP

FIA president Jean Todt has admitted that the situation in Bahrain will continue to be monitored in the run-up to its new slot on the 2011 F1 calendar.
Even though its return to the 2011 F1 calendar was trumpeted loudly by the FIA last Friday [HERE], the Bahrain Grand Prix remains very much provisional depending on the political situation within the Gulf state.

The race, which should have opened the 2011 campaign back in March, was left in limbo after a public uprising led to fatalities amid clashes with security forces, before eventually being returned to the schedule last week. The move has not been universally welcomed, either by those who claim that human rights abuses continue as a result of the pro-democracy protests or by those in F1, who fear that the country may not be as safe as is being made out. FIA president Jean Todt, however, insists that the situation has 'stabilised' in recent weeks, leading to the decision to slot the race into the date previously held by India, which now becomes the season finale in December.

"Our special envoy had many meetings in Bahrain, even with the human rights people responsible," the Frenchman told the BBC, referring to a report received from FIA vice-president Carlos Gracia, "Carlos' report was discussed by the World Council and the decision was taken to accept to re-programme the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2011. He found a stable situation, a quiet one, and we unanimously agreed."

Todt went on to claim, somewhat surprisingly, that the decision to reinstate the event had received backing from the various parties involved in the unrest, even though F1's annual visit is seen as an echo of the ruling family's dominant status.

"We got a request from the opposition to the government to run the event and Carlos met with many people, including those working on the circuit, those in all the suburbs of the capital, and the report came back after that," Todt continued, glossing over the fact that staff at Bahrain International Circuit were among those forced out of their jobs during the crackdown.

"The messages coming out are about peace, about restoring a good situation in this part of the world. Lots of other authorities have been encouraging [things] to go back to normal. My thinking is that, as a sporting body, we must support that."

Despite his optimism, however, Todt admitted that the situation would continue to be monitored closely, with the FIA reserving the right to pull the plug should the unrest flair again. The situation remains tense, with reports that marchers at a Shi'ite religious festival were attacked by police on Sunday night. According to Reuters, tear gas, rubber bullets, sound grenades and birdshot were all used to break up marches in villages around the capital Manama.

"If we have clear evidence that there is a risky situation, this will obviously be taken into consideration," Todt confirmed, even as his appraisal of the country's predicament was being criticised by leading human rights campaigners Avaaz.

"Claims that calm has been restored and life is back to normal in Bahrain are completely untrue," campaign director Alex Wilks insisted, "In the last week, the police have continued to .... break up peaceful marches, killing and injuring dozens of people.

Related Pictures

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25.05.2011- Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing, RB7
29.05.2011- Race, Jean Todt (FRA), President FIA, Michelle Yeoh, wife of Jean Todt (FRA) and Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of Formula One Management
07.05.2011- Qualifying, Jean Todt (FRA), President FIA
Bahrain International Circuit has added art to its run-off areas for 2009
Sakhir Circuit, Bahrain F1 Grand Prix, Sakhir, 13-15th, April, 2007
Sakhir Circuit, Bahrain F1 Grand Prix, Sakhir, 13-15th, April, 2007
16.07.2017 - Race, Bernd Maylander (GER) FIA Safety Car Driver
16.07.2017 - Race, Charlie Whiting (GBR), Race director and safety delegate  and Bernd Maylander (GER) FIA Safety Car Driver
16.07.2017 - Mark Cavendish (GBR) Cyclist
15.07.2017 - Bernd Maylander (GER) FIA Safety Car Driver
13.07.2017 - Jo Bauer (GER) FIA Technical Delegate
13.07.2017 - Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H and Mark Webber (AUS)
09.07.2017- Jean Todt (FRA) Fia President
09.07.2017- Mark Webber (Aut) and Bernie Ecclestone (GBR)
09.07.2017- Mark Webber (Aut) and  Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MCL32
09.07.2017- Jean Todt (FRA) Fia President
09.07.2017- Mark Webber (Aut)
09.07.2017- Jean Todt (FRA) Fia President

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sleepy - Unregistered

June 07, 2011 11:14 AM

Sounds like a response to the negative press they have received since the announcement to me. I particularly like the comment 'everything is back to normal in Bahrain' Yes the uprising has been quelled and people are back to being oppressed!!!!!!!!!!!!! Normal???????????

Bahrain F1 Fan - Unregistered

June 08, 2011 3:37 PM

Leapdog, Since you think you know as much as me about my coutry and the situation as a whole. ill ask you just 1 question which has a short answer but a long meaning. What does tuqiyeah mean? You will understand the situation better if you answer it. And btw, only shia pratice tuqiyeah and not sunnis eventhough its not a prayer or a religious thing.

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