Bahrain chief keen to prove safety
A chief representative of the Bahrain Grand Prix is eager to welcome Formula 1 back to the country, keen to prove that the race is not set to be cancelled for the second consecutive year. Mixed messages continue to come out of the country, but Sheikh Abdullah bin Isa Al Khalifa argues that this is nothing new.
“There are disturbances and they are youths who need to be handled and led in a proper and right way,” Al Khalifa, President of the Automobile Federation of Bahrain, told PA Sport.
“They need to know if they have concerns, problems; there are proper channels and procedures that can deal with them. They will not achieve their goals by disrupting the lives of family, friends, neighbors or anybody who comes to the country. But then we've had these youths doing what they are doing since 2004.
“There is a small element of society that has unfortunately been shown a way to demonstrate in this form. Yes, the events of February 14 last year (Day of Rage) inflamed matters, but we've never had an issue with Formula 1, which has been visiting our country since 2004.”
When asked specifically if the race is to be called off again, he replied:
“People keep asking me about Bahrain and I appreciate their apprehension, but anybody who has been there before and comes now will see there is no difference. It is why I'm hoping for the race to come as quickly as possible, just to let this community (in Formula 1) see and feel what is really going on in Bahrain.
“I know all eyes are on us, but for me I feel there is a buzz going on in the country to rally around Formula 1. So my message to Formula 1 is, ‘Be part of unifying my country'. We've had our share of trouble, people have made mistakes, but it is time to reconcile, to move on and come out stronger and more united.”
In 2011, Bahrain should have hosted the season-opening race, but was unable to following the country’s ‘Day of Rage’ and subsequent protests. For 2012, the event is scheduled to be held on the weekend of 20-22 April, with GP2 staging a total of four races across that weekend and the one which follows.