F1 » 09 October 2011
Bahrain issues cast new doubt over 2012 race
Team bosses wary of heading to Sakhir while civil unrest continues.
F1's willingness to welcome Bahrain back into the fold after this year's grand prix was cancelled may be called into question after further human rights issues raised their head in the past week.
The 2011 grand prix was scheduled to kick-off the season but was cancelled as tanks rolled into Manama in an attempt to quell civil unrest following the 'Arab Spring' uprising that swept through the region. Controversially shoe-horned into a slot at the end of the campaign, the race was then subsequently postponed for good when organisers admitted that they would not be ready - conveniently allowing Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA to scratch an awkward situation from the calendar.
When the 2012 schedule was published, however, Bahrain had returned, and remains the fourth venue to be visited by the teams. However, with the unrest far from over, and the jailing of 20+ medical staff who treated victims of the original clashes between pro-democracy protestors and security forces still fresh in the memory, F1 regulars have begun to call for a rethink on its inclusion.
"It's always concerning with the media reports that you hear," Red bull team boss Christian Horner admitted to the BBC, "But [we] trust in the promoter and FIA to deal with it accordingly."
Despite that 'trust', however, Horner hinted that the matter would be raised at the next gathering of team owners, and also when the governing body reconvenes the World Motor Sport Council.
Rumours in the Suzuka paddock also suggested that, should Bahrain end up being scrapped from the 2012 schedule, Istanbul Park could be called upon to ensure the calendar remains at 20 races. The Turkish venue was dropped on the grounds of a lack of spectator interest, but remains a popular circuit with the drivers and teams.
“We are seeking a way to keep F1 in Turkey, and [the sports minister] is ready to do everything for this goal,” chairman of the Turkish Automobile Sports Federation, Mümtaz Tahincioðlu, told Anatolia news agency at the time the 2012 calendar was expected, "We will invite Mr Ecclestone to Turkey. We want to conclude our negotiations.
“There has been a loss in commercial volume due to the poor interest in the F1 race in Turkey. The fee Mr Ecclestone demands from Turkey would become reasonable if we could expand this [commercial] volume in his favour."
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