Former F1 champion Damon Hill has warned that FIA to reconsider whether or not the Bahrain Grand Prix should take place this season with continuing unrest in the Gulf State.
After the race was cancelled last year, Hill had said he felt the time was right for a return this season, stating back in January that he felt the sport could head back to the Sakhir circuit with a 'clear conscience' [See separate story HERE
However, with reports of further violence as unrest goes on, Hill said things had changed and that F1 needed to seriously consider if going back to Bahrain would be a wise move.
"Things are different now,” he told the Daily Telegraph
. “The protests have not abated and may even have become more determined and calculated. It is a worrying state of affairs. What we must put above all else is what will be the penalty in terms of human cost if the race goes ahead.
“It would be a bad state of affairs, and bad for Formula One, to be seen to be enforcing martial law in order to hold the race. That is not what this sport should be about. Looking at it today you'd have to say that [the race] could be creating more problems than it's solving.”
Hill added that things like TV contracts – with Bahrain one race that is set to be exclusively live on Sky
- shouldn't even be considered when a decision needs to be taken.
“Some things are more important than contracts,” Hill said. “The view I gave after returning from the visit last year was based on my understanding of several factors; the substantial economic significance of the GP for Bahrain; that the report on the April riots condemned the actions of the police and security forces, and that both sides were to take part in meaningful dialogue to resolve the problems peacefully. Under those conditions one could imagine the GP being a great fillip for a Bahrain on the road to recovery.
“However, with under three weeks to go, conditions do not seem to have improved, judging by the reports in our European newspapers, social media and on Al Jazeera TV. The recent meeting to garner support for the race as a unifying event was troubling insofar as it tried to represent the rioting in Bahrain as the result of bad press reporting and as a 'youth' issue.
“Promoting the race as 'Uniting Bahrain', whilst a laudable ambition, might be elevating F1 beyond even its own prodigious powers.
"I'm just saying we have to tread carefully. I hope the FIA are considering the implications of this fully and that events in Bahrain are not seen as they are often sold, as a bunch of yobs throwing Molotov cocktails, because that's a gross simplification. If they believe that, they ought be more wary. You don't get 100,000 people risking their lives in protest for nothing.”