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Bahrain race should be cancelled says Mark Webber

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone is due to hold talks with the crown prince of Bahrain later today over whether next month's grand prix will go ahead.

Speculation has been rife over the last 24 hours that the season-opening event on March 13 has been cancelled or postponed in light of the pro-democracy protests across the Gulf kingdom.

Ecclestone, however, appreciates the time for an answer is at hand, and is now planning to speak with Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to resolve the ongoing issue.

"At the moment nothing at all has changed since yesterday, or the day before, or the day before that," Ecclestone told Press Association Sport.

"Sometime, a little later on this afternoon, I shall be speaking to the crown prince, and then we can make some decisions as to exactly what we want to do."

Uppermost in the mind are the threats emanating from anti-government protesters that the race will be targeted.

Demonstrators camped at what has become the hub of the protests, Pearl Square in the capital Manama, have spoken of their fury at the crown prince's fears of losing the race rather than expressing concerns for the people of Bahrain, with six shot dead last week.

As reported in The Times, protester Mohammed Nimah said: "His precious Formula One is more important than the blood of his people which he spilt.

"We put pressure on the Formula One contract, the crown prince got scared and now he wants to negotiate."

Another protester, Hasan Dhani, added: "There is a big connection between (the uprising) and Formula One.

"The race has been the prince's dream since he was a child.

"He wants to negotiate so he can fulfil this dream, and it makes me sad his dream is more dear to him than the needs of his people."

So far from within F1, only Mark Webber has voiced his opposition to the race taking place.

The Red Bull driver said: "It's probably not the best time to go there for a sporting event. They have bigger things, bigger priorities."

Given the money at stake, the suggestion is if the race is called off it may slot into the calendar at a later date, potentially in between the races in Abu Dhabi and Brazil, with the latter pushed into December from its current November 27 slot.

It is believed Bahrain pay £25million to host the grand prix, plus an additional £12million to guarantee it is the first of the new season.