Despite ongoing calls for the race to be re-evaluated in the light of continued civil unrest, Bahrain Grand Prix organisers have announced a programme of events leading up to the third round of the 2012 F1 world championship.
Bahrain International Circuit and event sponsor Gulf Air unveiled a somewhat ironic 'UniF1ed – One Nation in Celebration' slogan to promote the race, as well as revealing the list of supporting races that would accompany F1 for what would be the eighth running of the event in April. Last year's Bahrain GP was postponed following the uprising at the start of the year, and cancelled altogether after a misjudged attempt to rejig the tail-end of the calendar to accommodate it.
A press conference featuring BIC chief executive Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa and Gulf Air counterpart Samer Majali marked the start of the 60-day countdown to the GP weekend, and revealed the new slogan which the organisers believe 'reflects the unifying spirit of true F1 fans, who share a passion for the sport and who long to see the very best of motor racing take place in the Kingdom'.
“Sport brings people together, especially the truest and most dedicated of fans," Shaikh Salman commented, "Be it in football, tennis, golf or motor racing, there is something special about sport that makes it a great unifier. We in Bahrain should feel extremely privileged to be part of an exclusive club of only a handful of countries who can say that they are a host of a grand prix and are a part of the FIA Formula One World Championship. Our race is a source of pride!
“Based on the success of past grands prix, we are all together looking forward to staging yet another spectacular F1 weekend. We are excited about making Bahrain proud and for the whole world to see that we are indeed One Nation in Celebration.”
Although the GP2 Series and Porsche Mobil1 Supercup are slated to lead the supporting cast in Sakhir, along with the locally-based WGA Supercars Championship Middle East, each series continues to wait and see whether the weekend actually goes ahead.
Despite reports of continued violence between protestors and forces loyal to the ruling family, as well as suggestions of human rights abuses, both grand prix organisers and those at the head of F1 maintain that there is no reason for the racing to be cancelled. Only last week, Bernie Ecclestone repeated his claim that there was no reason to be concerned about returning to Bahrain.
“The only message I got was that there were some kids in trouble with the police,” he told Britain's Daily Telegraph
, “We are planning to go. I've always said that if there was going to be any drama it would be on the 'Day of Rage'. They would have to do something then. People there seem confident that a race two months away will be alright.
“The teams are not the slightest bit concerned. They seem happy that things will go ahead without problems. Last year was a more clear-cut decision not to go but things have changed a lot since then.”