Bahrain prince to advise on Formula One race

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The Independent Online

Bahrain's crown Prince will decide whether the country's season-opening Formula One Grand Prix can take place next month, the sport's commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone said yesterday.

Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, who is also deputy supreme commander of Bahrain's armed forces, is leading a national dialogue after days of unrest in the Gulf kingdom left six dead.

"He will decide whether it's safe for us to be there," Ecclestone said. "I've no idea. I'm not there, so I don't know. We won't advise people to go unless it's safe."

Ecclestone said a decision on the 13 March race was likely to be made tomorrow. The grand prix could be postponed rather than cancelled outright.

Christian Horner, principal of the world champions Red Bull, said on Friday the teams trusted Ecclestone to make the right call. "It would be a great shame to lose the race but it's not the teams' decision – it's down to the promoter. Bernie and the FIA [International Automobile Federation] will have much more information than us and we will trust their decisions," said Horner.

The 12 teams are due to take part in four days of testing in Bahrain from a week on Thursday, which makes an early decision essential.

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, meanwhile, was fastest in pre-season testing in Barcelona yesterday, with Renault's Vitaly Petrov second and Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren third. Felipe Massa had a difficult day, spinning off twice and finishing 10th in his Ferrari. The Italian team said: "Fortunately, the Ferrari F150th Italia appears to be very tough and after both incidents it was able to run again without losing too much time."