/ Motorsport

Bahrain debate driven by "misconceptions: claim GP chiefs

Updated: Wednesday, 11 Apr 2012 10:18

The Bahrain Grand Prix remains in doubt
The Bahrain Grand Prix remains in doubt

The organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix have hit back at reports the race could be cancelled.

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone admitted the teams will take the final decision over whether to take part in the race.

Last year's Bahrain GP was postponed in the wake of anti-government protests that resulted in a number of deaths prior to it being cancelled completely and the 2012 event - race day is scheduled for 22 April - has been shrouded in controversy due to continued clashes.

The Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) launched a counter-offensive, releasing details of a briefing given by members of the Lotus team which was sent to all F1 teams.

The Lotus report read: "There is a need to keep the circuit and the teams secure and they (BIC) are doing this and they feel very comfortable about the arrangements.

"If there is going to be protestation then it will be confined to peaceful protests - you will maybe see some banners being waved and maybe some tyres on fire, but that is all they expect."

"We came away from Bahrain feeling a lot more confident that everything is in hand.

"To be honest if it wasn't for a few more police you wouldn't know any difference from the last year we were there."

The timing of the report does not take into account a bomb attack in the Shi'ite village of Eker yesterday that injured seven policemen.

However, BIC chairman Zayed Al Zayani has severely criticised what he sees as a vicious rumour mill surrounding the race due to take place at the Sakhir venue.

"What has been happening is that armchair observers, who have not been sufficiently interested or committed to investigate the situation for themselves, have been driving this debate, at the expense of those neutral parties who have taken the trouble to investigate the situation at first hand," said Al Zayani.

"This, combined with the scaremongering tactics of certain small extremist groups on social networking sites, has created huge misconceptions about the current situation.

"We have welcomed a number of people to Bahrain over the last few weeks, who have all been able to find out for themselves that the Kingdom is ready to host Formula One next month.

"I therefore urge all stakeholders in the sport to listen to those with an informed, educated view of the situation and to form their views on the facts of the situation, as presented by neutral first-hand observers."

Ecclestone said there were commercial reasons why teams should take part but admitted he could not force individuals to participate.

"We've no way we can force people to go there," he told Press Association Sport.

"We can't say 'you've got to go' - although they would be in breach of their agreement with us if they didn't go - but it doesn't help.

"Commercially they have to go, but whether they decide to or not is up to them.

"I've had no one say anything other than 'we're going to be racing in Bahrain'."

Before Bahrain there is a race in China this weekend and Ecclestone said he would be seeking talks with FIA president Jean Todt.

"I've spoken to Mr Todt, we keep in close contact, and he's going out there, so we'll have a chat then, and we always meet with the teams," he said.

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