By Staff writer
Formula One teams and sponsors have no concerns about racing in Bahrain this year says sport's commercial supremo
Formula One teams and sponsors have no concerns about racing in Bahrain this year and the grand prix is definitely on despite continuing unrest, the sport's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said on Thursday.
"Nobody is saying we're not going or we don't want to go or anything. Everybody is quite positive," the 81-year-old told reporters after a news conference to announce a technology partnership with India's Tata Communications.
"I've told all the teams it's no problem at all, I'm absolutely 100 percent sure we'll go there and there will be no problem.
"Pity I'm not going to be there myself but don't worry," he joked, adding after a pause: "No, I shall be there, don't worry."
Tickets for the April 22 race at the Sakhir circuit went on sale at the start of the week. Last year's grand prix was postponed and then cancelled after a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests.
Teams have said they are happy to leave any decision to Ecclestone and the Paris-based International Automobile Federation (FIA).
Egyptian-American human rights lawyer Cherif Bassiouni, who headed an independent commission of inquiry that last year found security forces had used excessive force to suppress protests and tortured detainees to extract confessions, has also endorsed the race going ahead.
He congratulated the Bahrain circuit organisers for the decision to hold the race under the slogan of 'UniF1ed - One Nation in Celebration".
"This is an important initiative which gives another opportunity for the People of Bahrain to come together again after all that has happened in the last year," he wrote in a letter copied to Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt.
Ecclestone said he had no plans for increased security around Formula One teams in Bahrain, although the local authorities were likely to ensure measures were taken anyway.
"I am sure that the people there will make sure just in case there's a problem. I am sure there will not be a problem," he added.
Asked about media reports of a British man having fingers chopped off in violence marking the anniversary of the uprising, Ecclestone shrugged.
"But you don't know why. There are probably people here that had worse things happen to them. It happened to me actually," said the billionaire, who was mugged in 2010 for his watch near his office in the wealthy Knightsbridge district of central London.