Bahrain prince set for F1 decision

Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone says he will ask Crown Prince of Bahrain whether Grand Prix can go ahead safely.

    Ecclestone speaks with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in 2005 [Reuters]

    Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone said he would consult Bahrain's Crown Prince on whether Formula One's season-opener will take place.

    The Bahrain Grand Prix in Manama on March 13 is in doubt after days of unrest in the island kingdom where the army has attacked anti-government demonstrators.

    Ecclestone will leave a decision on whether it is safe enough for the race to go ahead to Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

    On Sunday a landmark junction in the heart of Manama, continues to be occupied by opposition protesters, hundreds of whom spent the night there after another day of anti-government demonstrations

    Some woke early on Sunday morning in the Pearl Roundabout area and staged a noisy protest, chanting "Get out Hamad" as they pressed their demand that the king, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, should step down.

    The calls against Sheikh Hamad and his inner circle are an escalation in Bahrain's political uprising, which began with calls to weaken the Sunni monarchy's power and address claims of discrimination against the country's Shia Muslim majority.

    Monarchy offer

    Abdul-Jalil Khalil, a leader of the main Shia political bloc, said on Sunday the opposition was considering the monarchy's offer for dialogue, but he noted that no direct talks were yet under way.

    Seven opposition groups said they would meet later in the day to co-ordinate a response.

    Asked when a decision on the race's future would be made, Ecclestone told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Probably Tuesday.

    "I haven't spoken to the Crown Prince this morning so I don't know what's happened there. If anybody's going to sort it out he's the guy to do it.

    "He would decide whether or not it's safe for us to be there.

    "Let's wait until Tuesday and see if this one's going to take place before we decide what to do. Maybe we could postpone Bahrain or run it later in the year."

    Ecclestone ruled out the possibility of another promoter stepping in to put on the race in a different country on March 13, explaining that the timescale was too short.

    "Well they're probably not ready, just to pop these things on just like that," he said.

    "Let's hope it will be all right as it's already scheduled."

    The GP2 Series race scheduled to take place in Bahrain this week has already been cancelled.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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