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Ecclestone: Bahrain stupid to put this race on!

20 April 2013

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has said Bahrain is a bit 'stupid' to have hosted the F1 grand prix, as it only serves to highlight the political protests taking place in the Gulf state.

Ecclestone made the remarks on Saturday while speaking to BBC Sport's Dan Roan before qualifying.

“We believe the government were in a way really stupid to put this race on because it's a platform for people to use for protesting,” he joked, when asked if the race had been politicised.

“I think it's good [though, to come here],” Ecclestone added, “because I don't think it's for us to decide the politics... good or bad. We're here to... it's a good circuit, it's a good race and we think everybody's happy so we're here.

“MPs are good, we see them once a year [when they say we shouldn't race here], we never see them otherwise. They suddenly pop up, which is good because no-one knows who they are and suddenly they get their name in the paper.

“At least the groups who are here are talking with each other and trying to sort things out. I'm speaking to the leader of the opposition after qualifying.”

“We're not here, or we don't go anywhere, to judge how a country is run,” he continued. "Human rights are that the people that live in a country abide by the laws of that country. I might be in Africa doing 200km/h with no problem. If I come to England and do the same thing, I'm in trouble.

"So it's a case of whatever the laws are in a country. People need to respect them, all of us visiting, and the people that live here."

The race in Bahrain has been the focus for protests ever since the Arab Spring uprising swept across the region in 2011 and, while there has been little threat of a repeat of the cancellation that wiped it from the schedule that year, it continues to face questions about its viability.

As well as sections of the local population, who believe that the grand prix represents all that is bad about the ruling Sunni government, others continue to call for the event to be scrapped, including an all-party group of UK politicians who, this week, added their voice to the arguments opposing F1's trip to Sakhir.

Meanwhile, according to British newspaper, The Guardian, Bahrain's crown prince, Prince Salman bin Hamad Isa al-Khalifa has 'laughed off' the comments.

“It's Bernie being Bernie,” he stated. “I love Bernie and his quotes. I think it's funny. I have a sense of humour.

“People will know he is just being sarcastic. I think it's funny, and I cannot be thankful enough for his support,” he added.


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