F1 teams seek guidance on Bahrain situation

The Bahrain circuit tower.  F1 Testing, Day Three, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Friday, 24 February 2007.  DIGITAL IMAGE

Feb.7 (Reuters) Formula 1 teams are concerned about the situation in Bahrain but will leave the decision on whether to race there in April to the sport’s governing body and commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, bosses said on Monday.

Last year’s grand prix at the Sakhir circuit was postponed and then cancelled due to pro-democracy protests that triggered a bloody crackdown.

Clashes have continued regularly since then, with activists saying more than 60 people have died since the unrest started, and have worsened in recent weeks as the Feb. 14 anniversary approaches.

“Like everyone, including the FIA and the commercial rights holder, we are concerned about the situation,” said Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn at the launch of the Swiss team’s new car before the first pre-season test in southern Spain.

“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,” she added.

Lotus team principal Eric Boullier, who is vice-chairman of the teams’ body FOTA, agreed it was up to the International Automobile Federation.

“We have commitments with regard to the Formula One championship, so it is not an easy decision to take,” he added. “Right now we are awaiting feedback from the FIA on whether or not we go.”

Lotus chairman Gerard Lopez, who is close to Ecclestone, sounded in favour of going, however.

“What I’ve been hearing is that a number of guarantees have been given in terms of how everything will happen and so on,” he told reporters.

“So if things look good then there is no reason why we shouldn’t go to Bahrain.”