F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone has blamed the media for stirring up confusion over the future of the Bahrain Grand Prix, before once again insisting that there were no safety concerns that would prevent the race from going ahead next month.
Ecclestone joined the heads of several F1 big-hitters in meeting with circuit officials and Bahraini ambassador in London in an effort to quell doubts over the status of the fourth round of the 2012 championship, and emerged with similar assurances on the social and political situation in the Gulf kingdom, blaming the media for fanning the flames of uncertainty.
"The problem is people like you who make the concerns, not the teams and not the people in Bahrain," he told journalists, "Seriously, the press should just be quiet and deal with the facts rather than make up stories.
"People say to me that 'there's not going to be a race', and I say 'how do you know?'. Then they say 'we know because we saw, we read or we heard' or something like that. It's all nonsense!"
The 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix
fell victim to the 'Arab Spring' series of uprisings that swept across north Africa and the Middle East, initially being postponed until the end of the year and then, after a contentious reinstatement to the calendar, being scrapped altogether. It was something of a surprise, therefore, to see the trip to Sakhir appear on the 2012 calendar, particularly as, unlike several countries caught up in the wave of public unrest, there has been no change to the heads of state and government in Bahrain.
Ecclestone, however, again insisted that there was nothing to fear about returning to the Bahrain International Circuit, echoing similar claims regarding security as made by the head of Bahrain's motorsport federation, Sheikh Abdullah bin Isa Al Khalifa, on Tuesday.
"If there's a grand prix there I'll be there," he claimed, "I feel safety is not an issue at all. I don't need any personal security, but I'm sure whatever's necessary will be done. It's probably not necessary. We've never been concerned about security in the past, and I don't understand why we should be now.
"It's business as usual. I don't think the people who are trying to demonstrate are going to use anything to do with F1. If they did, they would be a little bit silly."
Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes and Williams
were all represented at the meeting, along with Pirelli the FIA, and none left with obvious concerns about returning to a country that, in parts, resembled a war zone twelve months ago.