Former F1 champion Damon Hill has said he is in favour of the return of the Bahrain Grand Prix later this year, despite the fact that civil unrest continues in the Gulf state.
The 2011 race, which was due to act as the season opener, was cancelled because of the unrest but was then reinstated on the calendar for this year despite some opposition from human rights groups who have called on teams and drivers to boycott the event.
However, with the Bahrain International Circuit having recently offered to reinstate workers who were dismissed for taking part in the protests last year, plans are moving ahead for the race's return to the schedule and Hill said the time was right for F1 to head to the Gulf nation again – even if more should have been said about the situation last year.
"I do not like seeing people shot and brutalised," Hill, who recently visited Bahrain with FIA president Jean Todt, told The Times
. "I was frustrated last year that Formula One did not raise its voice against what was happening. But a lot has changed there since then.
"It is clear that the situation in Bahrain is better understood and I don't think anyone would want to go back to Bahrain if there was suffering just because of a grand prix. I listened to a lot of people there, including eye-witnesses. I believe they are making change for the better. There is no question they have issues, but every country has issues; we had riots here in the UK not so long ago.
"This time, Formula One can go to Bahrain with a clear conscience and not just as a tool for some sort of cover-up."