Bernie Ecclestone to make Bahrain F1 decision next week

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone is to wait until after the weekend before deciding on whether to cancel next month's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

The deteriorating political situation in the island kingdom today forced the cancellation of the GP2 Asia Series races scheduled to take place at the Bahrain International Circuit this weekend.

According to reports, four people were killed and 300 injured last night as riot police stormed a camp of demonstrators in the capital Manama.

Batons, tear gas and rubber bullets were used on the 2,000 that were sleeping at the time in Pearl Square, prior to a battalion of 50 tanks moving in to patrol the streets.

The scenes followed two deaths earlier this week as protesters seek political reform in a country where the Sunni Muslim family has ruled a predominantly Shi'ite population for the last 30 years.

Given the ongoing unrest, serious question marks now hang over the viability of staging the curtain-raising F1 event, due to take place at the BIC from March 11-13.

A decision on whether it goes ahead rests with Ecclestone, FIA president Jean Todt and the race organisers in Bahrain, as well as Crown Prince Salman ibn Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa.

Ecclestone, who today confirmed finally speaking with the Crown Prince regarding the prospects for the race, told Press Association Sport: "It's not good is it?

"We'll have to keep our eye on things and make a decision quickly.

"I spoke to the Crown Prince this morning. He doesn't know any more than you or I, but they're monitoring exactly what is going on.

"Next week we will make a decision on what we are going to do."

Ahead of the grand prix, F1 is due to descend on Bahrain in less than a fortnight's time for the final pre-season test session, scheduled to run from March 3-6.

A decision as to whether that goes ahead could be made as early as tomorrow given all the teams are in Barcelona for the penultimate test at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Bahrain International Circuit CEO, Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa has again today reiterated everything will be done to ensure all goes ahead as planned, and as smoothly as possible.

Al Khalifa added: "Our priority at this time is ensuring the well being of everyone associated with this event."

However, it appears to be a promise that cannot be guaranteed, in particular if the protests continue over the next few days, and into next week.

FIA president Jean Todt, speaking on a visit to Dublin, claimed he was determined to keep a cool head.

Todt stated that he always tried "not to overreact on breaking stories," adding there was "no reason for unnecessary concern".

However, the cancellation of the GP2 race has added a further twist to the situation as an FIA spokesman said: "As you can imagine we are monitoring events extremely closely - every five minutes.

"The president is looking at the matter closely and when there is something to announce we will let everybody know."

Clearly the environment in Bahrain is an unpleasant one at present, as described by a couple of members of the GP2 Asia personnel.

Team Air Asia driver and Team Lotus reserve Davide Valsecchi said: "My hotel is just 800m away from the centre of the riot and I could hear shots of machine guns."

Racing Engineering team principal Alfonso d'Orleans-Borbon said: "There are Saudi tanks everywhere, and during the night we heard shots."

That is not an atmosphere F1 would wish to entertain, with Virgin Racing team principal John Booth describing the events in Bahrain as "very disturbing".

Speaking to the BBC, Booth added: "But if the local government, along with FOM (Formula One Management) and the FIA say it is safe to go, then we go.

"We will trust their judgment. They will have people on the ground assessing the situation all the time, and I'm sure they are well informed of the risks.

"The only complication is the test, with most of us out there for 16 days, so a decision (on that) will need taking by the 25th when the freight goes out, and a week after for the race."

John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Watch this commuter make a mad 320-metre, 75-step dash to work
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK edition of wedding show forced to recast after wave of drop-outs
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise

Top conservatoire offers ‘groundbreaking’ arts degree

Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week