• Bahrain doubts

GP2 race scrapped as Bahrain protests worsen

ESPNF1 Staff
February 17, 2011

The future of next month's Bahrain Grand Prix was thrown into doubt after this weekend's scheduled GP2 Asia race at the Sakhir circuit near Manama was cancelled because of escalating political tensions in the country.

Bahrain has been rocked by violent anti-government protests in the last week, and more than half a dozen people are believed to have been killed. It is reported that journalists are being stopped from entering the state while internet access is limited, and eyewitnesses report worrying accounts of widespread violence, injuries and deaths.

The GP2 Asia practice scheduled for today was cancelled on Wednesday because medical staff due to be at the track had been rushed to help at local hospitals. But hours later, despite hung-ho rhetoric from the organisers, they were forced into a complete about-turn and scrapped the entire weekend.

The protests began as part of a "day of rage" on Sunday and are expected to continue over the coming days and into the weekend. Various sporting events, including a charity marathon and a local rugby match, have already been cancelled.

FIA president Jean Todt has tried to play down the situation. "I always try not to overreact on breaking stories," he told the Irish Independent. "Of course the essence of the FIA is safety; safety on the racing car, safety on the road, safety in our organisation. So that's what we are claiming, but at the moment there is no reason to have unnecessary concern."

''The safety of all Bahraini nationals, expats and overseas visitors is a priority at all times,'' a spokesman for the Bahrain International Circuit said. ''We are monitoring the situation very closely indeed in association with the relevant authorities and will respond appropriately to any further developments.''

However, CNN reported the last 24 hours have been particularly violent, involving clashes with rubber bullets and tear gas and at least three more people killed.