Calls to drop Bahrain race

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The Independent Online

The 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix, which is due to take place on 22 April, was in doubt yesterday after it was reported that team sources had suggested a cancellation would not be a surprise and that flights from the Chinese Grand Prix, on 15 April, had been scheduled in order to bypass Bahrain if the race was called off.

Last year's Bahrain Grand Prix was cancelled due to political unrest in the Gulf state and this season's race has also been surrounded by controversy. Political activists have called for the event to be called off once again. Race organisers, the Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA, the governing body of world motor sport, have said that the race will go ahead.

One unnamed team principal said yesterday that he felt "very uncomfortable" about the race. "If I'm brutally frank, the only way they can pull this race off without incident is to have a complete military lock-down there," he said. "We're all hoping the FIA calls it off."

Others were more circumspect; one team source said: "We're going on and that's it."

An FIA spokesman said it was "constantly monitoring and evaluating the situation".

Given that the race reportedly contributes around £140m to Bahrain's economy, organisers are keen for it to go ahead.