x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

FIA 'satisfied' with Bahrain security ahead of grand prix

Red Bull principal Christian Horner and other teams glad to receive clarity over situation with the Gulf nation's event

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner, left, is glad there is now clarity over the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner, left, is glad there is now clarity over the Bahrain Grand Prix.

SHANGHAI // Formula One teams will travel to Bahrain next week as planned, but they will do so with extra caution after the kingdom's controversial grand prix was finally given the green light by the governing body for international motorsport.

The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) released a statement Friday morning confirming that the race - which was cancelled last year following anti-government protests - will go ahead, despite a recent increase in violence in the Gulf state.

"Based on the current information the FIA has at this stage, it is satisfied that all the proper security measures are in place for the running of a Formula One World Championship event in Bahrain," the statement said.

"Therefore, the FIA confirms that the 2012 Gulf Air F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain will go ahead as scheduled."

Jean Todt, the president of the federation, is due to arrive in Shanghai today ahead of Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix. Shortly after the FIA statement was released, a face-to-face meeting was held at the Shanghai International Circuit between the 12 racing marques and Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One's commercial rights owner.

Ecclestone said "all the teams are happy to be there", adding "there's nothing happening. I know people who live there and it's all very quiet and peaceful".

The team staff concurred, adding only that they will take added security.

Christian Horner, the team principal of constructors' champions Red Bull Racing, said he was pleased the issue was cleared up.

"The confusing thing has been uncertainty, so I think for everybody here in the paddock now it's clear that there will be a race in Bahrain next week," he said.

"And you are looking at thousands of people attending that race, not just Red Bull Racing."

Mark Webber, Horner's Australian driver, had said on Thursday that he was not comfortable with the idea of taking extra security when not everybody can benefit from such a luxury.

But Horner said it was only natural to safeguard team staff.

"We take the security of all our employees very carefully and so, inevitably, as with other races, sometimes extra precautions are taken," Horner explained.

"We'll do our best to ensure that all our guys and girls are in a secure environment, and I don't doubt that for a moment."

Toto Wolff, who as a director represented Williams at the meeting, said Formula One was ready to go "full steam ahead to Bahrain".

"I am happy to take the team to Bahrain," Wolff said.

"I have to balance out what information I get and, at the moment, it seems to be competent information.

"And you have to, at a certain stage, rely on that information. I would rather go for [information from] competent people being there, rather than Facebook."

A photo of Ecclestone's image being burnt was circulating on the popular social networking site, but he said he will not be taking any added security.

The race takes place on April 22, but teams and equipment will start arriving in the kingdom from Monday.

 

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

 

 

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