F1 wary over Bahrain Grand Prix

Commercial chief Bernie Ecclestone fears 'a fuss' at season-opener after at least two people killed in Manama protests.

    Ecclestone said he was worried protesters may 'make a fuss' at Sakhir after two were killed in Manama [GALLO/GETTY] 

    Formula One bosses will monitor the situation in Bahrain to decide whether to go ahead with the first Grand Prix of the season, with less than a month before the race on the Gulf island.

    At least one person was killed and several others injured in the capital, Manama, on Tuesday after riot police opened fire at protesters holding a funeral service for a man killed during protests in the kingdom a day earlier.

    Tuesday's violence came a day after demonstrators observed a Day of Rage, apparently inspired by the recent uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

    "Police fired on the protesters this morning, but they showed very strong resistance...police are playing a cat-and-mouse game with the protesters"

    Al Jazeera correspondent in Manama

    Shias, who are thought to be in the majority, have often alleged discrimination at the hands of the kingdom's Sunni rulers.

    Thousands came out on the streets on Monday to protest, sparking clashes with riot police.

    "We're watching events closely. We'll rely on what they (local authorities) think the right thing to do is," Britain's Daily Telegraph website quoted Ecclestone as saying on Tuesday, before he went on to suggest that protesters might make "a fuss".

    "The danger is obvious, isn't it?" said the 80-year-old Briton.

    "If these people wanted to make a fuss and get worldwide recognition it would be easy, wouldn't it?

    "You start making a problem on the start grid in Bahrain and it would get worldwide coverage.

    "I have never had any problems in Bahrain in the past and I'm happy to walk around town there. But we don't know now. The world is changing."

    The first Grand Prix of a season now extending to a record 20 races is scheduled for Bahrain's Sakhir circuit on March 13.

    The 12 teams are also set to test there in the previous week.

    An Al Jazeera correspondent in Bahrain, who cannot be named for his own safety, said that police were taking a very heavy-handed approach towards the protesters, after 25 people were reported to be being treated in hospital.

    "Police fired on the protesters this morning, but they showed very strong resistance," our correspondent said.

    "It seems like the funeral procession was allowed to continue, but police are playing a cat-and-mouse game with the protesters."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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