BIC confident of Formula One success
Manama, June 8, 2011
Bahrain's racing chiefs remain confident that the country will be ready to host Formula One by the time it is due to take place later this year.
The Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix has been rescheduled for October by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA).
That decision has come in for criticism from some within the sport, but Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) officials say they are confident of hosting a successful event.
The race was due to take place on March 13, the same day that anti-government protesters blockaded large parts of Manama, launched a wave of attacks against Asian civilians that left four people dead and ransacked Bahrain University.
However, it had already been called off on February 21 by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander, to allow the country to focus on political dialogue designed to address the demands of protesters.
'We respect and understand those who may have concerns with regard to the reinstatement of the Grand Prix following recent events,' a BIC spokesman said in a statement to our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN).
'However, the situation in Bahrain is markedly different from earlier in the year and we maintain that we will be ready to host the event in October,' the spokesman added.
'Travel restrictions have been lifted and there is widespread support in the country for the event, including from the main political groups across the spectrum.
'The race will bring enormous economic benefits and come after our national dialogue that is seeking to comprehensively address all issues of concern and further political reform for the benefit of all.'
The comments follow reports yesterday alleging Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone had called for a vote by all F1 teams on whether or not the race should go ahead.
The FIA announced on Friday that the Bahrain leg of the 2011 Formula One season, due to take place as the campaign-opener, would be held over the weekend of October 28 to 30.
That weekend had originally been earmarked for the first Indian Grand Prix, which reports said could be pushed to December.
International media reports claim Ecclestone said it would be better to host the Bahrain race at the end of the season.
Further reports claimed teams were against extending the championship into December, while fans who booked non-refundable flights and holidays around the Indian Grand Prix could lose money.
Former FIA president Max Mosley is among those to have criticised the decision.
He was famously denied the chance to attend the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2008 following revelations by a British tabloid that he paid prostitutes, allegedly dressed as Nazi prison camp guards, to whip him in an embarrassing sex scandal.
Friday's decision to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix to the 2011 calendar followed a visit by an FIA delegation to assess the current situation.
The news was greeted with delight by Bahrain's business leaders, racing fans and even political opposition group Al Wefaq.
However, speculation has surfaced that opposition groups might target the race with protests.-TradeArabia News Service