KUALA LUMPUR // Today marks 30 days until the Bahrain Grand Prix and while questions are still being asked of whether the race should go ahead, world champions Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel have said they are calm ahead of the prospect of travelling to the Kingdom.
This year's race at Sakhir International Circuit will take place between April 20-22 and is the first time an F1 grand prix has taken place in Bahrain since civil unrest last February left the scheduled race cancelled.
Fresh doubts were cast in recent weeks following a large-scale anti-government rally near to the capital, Manama. Opposition leaders estimated more than 100,000 people turned out, making it the biggest protest march for more than a year.
Schumacher, Mercedes' seven-time world champion who made his F1 comeback at Sakhir in 2010 after three seasons away from the sport, said he is feeling no anxiety about returning to the Gulf state.
"I'm honestly pretty relaxed to go there," he said. "From our perspective, obviously we're going to be very well looked after, because they might foresee whatever and will be prepared. I've quite a few good friends over there and I'm pretty sure that for them it's a very important event and they just want to make everybody happy."
The prospect of the Formula One fraternity being targeted by protesters as a way of gaining publicity has grown in recent weeks with a protest group writing a letter to the F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone threatening to do "everything in our capacity" to ensure the race is a failure. Schumacher, however, said: "If you look around the world, you probably find other places where there might be the possibility that we could have the same reasons to think about and we don't.
"So at the end of the day, I'm pretty sure that they're going to do their utmost and we're going to be OK."
Vettel, Red Bull Racing's reigning world champion, echoed his compatriot's feelings, saying he has no worries about racing in Sakhir. "There are a lot of people who have to make a decision as to whether it's safe or not," he said.
"If they decide it's safe then we shouldn't worry, so I'm happy to go to Bahrain.
"Of course, it was a shame the race didn't happen last year, but I think ultimately it was the right call. It's not really our business, and we'll see what happens, but I am quite confident we'll be all right."
Jenson Button, who won the season-opening race last week in Australia, acknowledged the Bahrain issue is "a very difficult subject" and said the decision of whether his McLaren-Mercedes team will travel is in the hands of the sport's governing body.
"We need to look to the FIA for common sense," he said. "We will go with what they say."