Lotus' Lopez expects F1 Bahrain return

 

Lotus team chairman Gerard Lopez sees no reason why Formula One cannot return to Bahrain this season providing promises made are not broken.

With 10 weeks to go before the F1 circus is expected to set foot again on the island kingdom, the uncertain political situation continues to hang over the event.

Just under a year ago a number of protestors were killed as they staged anti-government demonstrations, resulting in the cancellation of the race, and sporadic protests have since occurred.

At this stage it remains unclear as to whether this year's event, scheduled for April 20-22, will go ahead, with much depending on what unfolds in Bahrain over the next few weeks.

Assessing the situation, Lopez, who runs Lotus team owners Genii Capital, said: "First of all, Formula One is a sport and using a sport to provide a political message is wrong.

"We all have opinions the moment we step away and we can all talk about Bahrain, but it's difficult for us to say we're taking a stance on political issues.

"All I can say is Bahrain is a great country, I love being there, the people are nice there, and the events have always been really well run.

"What I've been hearing is a number of guarantees have been given in terms of how everything will happen and so on.

"So if things look good then there is no reason why we shouldn't go to Bahrain."

Lopez, however, could not expand on the nature of the guarantees, adding: "I would simplistically say everything is run fair.

"I wouldn't go down a checklist in terms of what the expectations would be.

"As I said it would be wrong for the sport to be used politically, so if everything is set for Formula One to go to Bahrain then it should go to Bahrain."

Lotus team principal Eric Boullier was a particularly outspoken figure last year when it came to voicing his concerns regarding the prospect of F1 visiting Bahrain.

On this occasion, however, Boullier is leaving any decision in the hands of motorsport's world governing body, the FIA.

"As a principal of a Formula One team I love to be racing, and in every part of the world where we are welcome, and Bahrain is one of these places," said the Frenchman.

"But with regard to the political situation in Bahrain, it is entirely up to the FIA to decide whether we have to go, if it is safe to go.

"We have commitments with regard to the Formula One championship, so it is not an easy decision to take.

"Right now we are awaiting feedback from the FIA on whether or not we go."

Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn echoed Boullier's comments as she said: "Like everyone, including the FIA and the commercial rights holder (Bernie Ecclestone), we are concerned about the situation.

"But we, as the Sauber F1 team, are not in a position to judge that very well, so we have to trust in the FIA and the commercial rights holder who have the call on this.

"If they think it is the right thing to go then we will definitely go there."

PA

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