F1: Bahrain Grand Prix is on, insists Bernie Ecclestone, despite threats of protests and violence

F1 supremo refuses to postpone Grand Prix  in the face of protests and threats of violence

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone insists this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead as planned, despite a series of small explosions taking place in the troubled country.

The February 14 Youth Coalition, an underground youth movement, have embarked on a week-long campaign entitled ‘volcanic flames’, which concluded with a gas canister blowing up inside a stolen car in the financial district. No injuries were reported.

And internet hacking organisation Anonymous have also vowed to disrupt proceedings, demanding that the “blood race” should be cancelled.

But a defiant Ecclestone told the AFP news agency: “There’s no reason why [the race] shouldn’t be [a success].”

Asked about the demonstrations, he said: “What’s happened? They’re demonstrating now? I didn’t know that. There’s nobody demonstrating.”

The 82-year-old was also unconcerned about a report from Human Rights Watch that police in the Gulf state have been rounding up pro-democracy activists in the run-up to the grand prix. “No, they have their own politics and they are discussing this, I believe,” Ecclestone added.

Anonymous posted a message that claimed: “Bernie Ecclestone and the ‘Royal Family’ of Bahrain have learned nothing. So we are coming forward this year to wreck your little party again Mr Ecclestone.

“Anonymous will not stand by and allow you a race fuelled by the blood of our freedom-loving comrades in Bahrain. Once the festivities for this race begin in Bahrain, all bets are off.

“We call upon Bernie Ecclestone while there is still time – cancel your blood race now”

The Bahrain authorities have promised “appropriate security measures” for the grand prix. “The security situation is very reassuring,” a government spokeswoman told state news agency BNA. She added that Bahrain “will ensure appropriate security measures are taken during the F1 race and will take enough measures, as in all other countries which host such international sporting events”.

Protests have been a part of the background to the race since its inception in 2004. They have varied from bins being set on fire on wasteground to full-blown confrontations with security forces.

But after the Arab Spring of 2011, the violence escalated amid reports of arrests and human rights violations that outraged the western world, and continuing riots that year led to the race’s cancellation. That year’s grand prix was postponed and later cancelled after month-long pro-democracy protests were crushed.

And the protest groups have said that they will use the race to highlight what they say are injustices still being committed against them.

Last year’s race went ahead after Ecclestone and governing body, the FIA, said they had been assured the kingdom was safe for F1 personnel.

Before the race, Force India mechanics were caught up in an incident in which a petrol bomb bounced off the roof of their car as protesters battled with police on the main road from the circuit into the capital, Manama.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor