By Joanne Bladd
Bahrain Grand Prix may be moved to later in the racing calendar if scrapped amid political unrest
Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has said a call on whether to scrap the Bahrain Grand Prix will likely be made by Tuesday by the Gulf state’s Crown Prince.
The event may be moved to later in the racing calendar if demonstrations lead to its being postponed, Ecclestone was quoted as saying by the BBC.
“I haven't spoken to the Crown Prince this [Sunday] morning so I don't know what's happened there. If anybody's going to sort it out he's the guy to do it,” he said.
"He would decide whether or not it's safe for us to be there. Let's wait until Tuesday and see if this one's going to take place before we decide what to do. Maybe we could postpone Bahrain or run it later in the year."
The season-opening race has been thrown into doubt in the wake of violent clashes between police and anti-government protesters that left six dead and several hundred wounded.
Thousands of anti-government protesters camped overnight Saturday in a Manama square ahead of talks between the opposition and Bahrain’s Prince Salman ibn Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa
On orders from the crown prince, troops and armoured vehicles had withdrawn from the square Thursday after riot police staged a night-time attack on protesters, killing four and wounding 231.
Arabian Business reported last week that protesters planned to target the F1 race – the highest profile event on Bahrain’s sporting calendar - in a bid to draw attention to their cause.
“For sure F1 is not going to be peaceful this time,” Nabeel Rajab, vice president of Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said.
“They’ll be lots of journalists, a lot of people looking and [the government] will react in a stupid manner as they did today and yesterday. And that will be bloody but will be more publicised.”
Formula One’s teams would be obliged to attend the Bahrain race if it goes ahead. In comments to The Telegraph, Cosworth F1's general manager Mark Gallagher said the next 72 hours would be “absolutely critical”.
"All the teams want to have a race in Bahrain,” he said. “But that comes secondary to what is clearly a very serious political situation.”
Ecclestone also ruled out the chance of another promoter, such as Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit, stepping in to host the race on short-notice.
"Well they're probably not ready, just to pop these things on just like that," he said. "Let's hope it will be all right as it's already scheduled."For all the latest sports news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.