Despite casting unexpected doubts over the potential of the Circuit of the Americas in Austin making it onto the final 2012 F1 world championship schedule [see story here
, Bernie Ecclestone expects to see Bahrain retake its place after missing out in 2011.
The sport's ringmaster is admittedly a part of small group that believes Bahrain will be a suitable place to visit in just a matter of months - the race is scheduled for 22 April - but insists that the public uprising and civil unrest that caused the postponement and eventual cancellation of the 2011 event is less of a factor, even though the unpopular governing royal family remains in control.
"We believe there's no problem, it's on the calendar and we are going to be there," Ecclestone told reporters from the paddock in Abu Dhabi, echoing similar sentiments expressed by Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, who is visiting the Yas Marina facility with the Briton.
With 30 confirmed deaths as security forces cracked down on the public at the height of the unrest, and scores of unconfirmed disappearances and imprisonments of those thought to have been involved, there remains a significant human rights issue regarding F1's potential return to Bahrain. While the sport's arrival in India a fortnight ago raised eyebrows through the juxtaposition of wealth and poverty, renewing its association with Bahrain could meet with stronger opposition entirely, especially if the teams and their sponsors feel uneasy about performing against such a backdrop.
"There are certainly things that happened in our country that nobody is proud of, but we have an important report coming out on 23 November, and that will really give us a narrative on the truth that we can accept and move on," the Crown Prince commented, "As a force for moderation, sport is a great unifier [and] the race is seen as the prime symbol of moderation in the country.
"Anyone with a moderate agenda, a global agenda, knows that race is what ties Bahrain to the world. Extremists on either side might disagree, but the majority of people, especially those that love their country and want it to be part of the world, support it and they will have my support for that."