Reaction to return of Bahrain Grand Prix 'positive' claims Bernie Ecclestone


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The Independent Online

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone claims there has so far been an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the prospect of returning to Bahrain this year.

Anti-government demonstrations and the deaths of many protesters a year ago forced the cancellation of a race that had been scheduled to open the season.

Last week's anniversary of the 'Day of Rage' saw sporadic clashes between locals and police who were forced to combat petrol bombs with rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas.

The violence, however, was not enough to deter the island kingdom from proclaiming they are ready for F1 to return, with the grand prix just eight weeks away on April 20-22.

Tickets finally went on sale for the event on Monday, operating under the slogan 'UniF1ed - One Nation in Celebration'.

Although it is understood there remain misgivings behind the scenes, asked if there were any concerns, Ecclestone said: "Not at all.

"Nobody is saying we're not going or we don't want to go or anything. Everybody is quite positive.

"I've told all the teams there's no problem at all. I'm absolutely 100% sure we'll go there and there will be no problem."

Ecclestone, however, does believe the Bahrainis will take extra precautions when it comes to security and guaranteeing the safety of everyone connected with F1.

"I am sure the people there will make sure, just in case there's a problem. I am sure there won't be a problem," added Ecclestone.

Ecclestone today announced a new technology supplier to the sport.

Tata Communications, the largest global carrier of international wholesale and voice traffic, have signed a multi-year technology service and marketing agreement with FOM.

It means the Mumbai-based company will now become the official web hosting and content delivery network provider to F1, which for many years has resisted the advance of the digital age.

"We've been a little asleep with this type of communications, so we decided we ought to wake up," said Ecclestone.

"We looked into the market to see who could provide the services we needed, and that's why we've chosen Tata Communications.

"Out of all the people we researched, they give us what we want, and our deal - to make it quite clear - is nothing to do with sponsorship.

"We were offered a service we needed, and obviously it was good for them and us to be together."