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article imageFormula 1: Voices rising in protest to Bahrain Grand Prix

By John Duarte     Apr 5, 2012 in Sports
Security and safety concerns are beginning to rise as the Formula 1 universe prepares for the Bahrain Grand Prix and, at least, one former world champion is painting a gloomy picture.
With the race two weeks away, Damon Hill says there are issues that have to be considered and urged organizers to look at the possibility of calling off the event again this year for the good of Formula 1 and, more importantly, the good of the country. The Bahrain Grand Prix was cancelled last year due to tension in the area.
“Looking at it today you'd have to say that (the race) could be creating more problems than it's solving,” Hill told The Guardian. The former world driving champion, who is part of the Sky Sports team that would be covering the event, is blunt about the impact of holding the Bahrain race. “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.”
The Bahrain Grand Prix made history in 2004 when it became the first Formula 1 race to be held in the Middle East. Protests in the Persian Gulf country, in February 2011, forced organizers to cancel the race three weeks before the grand prix weekend.
Hill’s voice is not alone. The Telegraph is reporting that a group in Britain has called on the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the governing body of Formula 1, to cancel the 2012 race. Even media in the region is abuzz with the potential cancellation of this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
“The situation in Bahrain still isn't safe enough to host a Formula 1 race,” says a report on the Al-Akhbar website. “The FIA is preparing a statement to announce the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix.”
Hill says Formula 1 organizers must do the right thing as “there is obviously still a great deal of pain, anger and tension in Bahrain.” He goes on to say, “It would be better for F1 to make it clear that it properly understands this, and that it wants only the best for all Bahrain, or whatever country it visits.”
Fans of the racing series are also speaking out and their voice is loud and clear. F1 Racing magazine polled approximately 10,000 fans of the sport and published the results in this month’s issue. Approximately 60 per cent said it is “not right” for the race to be held this year, with less than one-quarter of respondents being in favour of the Bahrain Grand Prix going ahead as scheduled.
A racing website quotes F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, reacting to poll results, as saying, “Seriously, the press should just be quiet and deal with the facts rather than makeup stories.”
The next race in the Formula 1 world championship is the Chinese Grand Prix, in Shanghai, on April 15. The Bahrain Grand Prix is scheduled for the following week, on April 22.
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