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Bahrain safety only concern to drivers

Prior to Bahrain's decision not to pursue a slot on the 2011 F1 calendar, several drivers hinted that they would not have objected to returning for the country's grand prix.
A snap sample of F1 stars suggests that the majority would have been happy to head to Sakhir for the Bahrain Grand Prix had their teams not opposed the reinstatement of the race on logistical grounds.

An exchange of letters between the teams' association and the FIA confirmed the former's belated opposition to the return of the erstwhile series opener, while the governing body made a reluctant offer to consider its protest, claiming that the teams would have been represented by the delegate of the F1 Commission which agreed to the reinstatement, and by that of the commercial rights holder, which proposed the return in the first place.

Despite having been shoe-horned into the slot previously allocated to the inaugural Indian Grand Prix [see story here], officials in Bahrain decided to call off any potential return just as the teams were preparing for this weekend's race in Canada [see story here], when it was suggested that another calendar revision be drawn up, with the trip to Manama at the end of the schedule, in December, allowing greater possibilities for it to be called of should there be an escalation of the unrest that caused the initial cancellation in March.

Despite the teams' opposition, however, their pilots appeared happy to make the trip, provided that their safety could be guaranteed. GPDA chairman Rubens Barrichello had already hinted that the drivers were not opposed in principle to racing in Bahrain, and that sentiment was confirmed by those present in the opening FIA press conference, despite the ethical questions posed by taking F1 to a country ravaged by human rights abuses.

"I think that, for me, I would say, as long as it's safe, I could race there," Force India's Adrian Sutil admitted before learning of Bahrain's decision not to pursue an alternative slot on the calendar, "But I'm not in charge of that, the FIA and the FOTA is doing that and I think they will find a solution. But, for me, as long as it's safe, I'm happy to race. It's a good place to go, I always like this circuit so that's all I can say about that."

"I think the question is just about the safety," Renault's Vitaly Petrov agreed, "The FIA knows what to do. If they see that it will not be dangerous, we will go. If it's still dangerous, I think it's better not to go.

Both Pastor Maldonado and Lewis Hamilton conceded that racing was all the drivers wanted to do, although the Briton added that he hoped the teams and FIA would make the 'right decision' on pressing ahead with reinstatement.

"[We], as drivers, just have to rely on them that the right decision will be made," he concluded, "We want to race, not just for our own benefit, but also for the benefit of others as well."




Related Pictures

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FOTA logo
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
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