• Bahrain Grand Prix

Damon Hill leads opposition to Bahrain rescheduling

ESPNF1 Staff
June 3, 2011 « Massa confident he will end points drought in Canada | »
Damon Hill: 'You can't just base your decision to hold a race in a country on that country's ability to pay' © Sutton Images

Former world champion Damon Hill has urged Formula One to take a moral stand and not reschedule the Bahrain Grand Prix for later this season.

Speaking on the eve of the World Motorsport Council's meeting in Barcelona where the matter will be decided, Hill told the Daily Telegraph that the authorities could no longer duck the issue.

"Formula One cannot put its head in the sand concerning the Bahrain Grand Prix because it is a very volatile situation out there and F1 is involved," he told the newspaper. "I am not a spokesman for Formula One. But I am surprised and disappointed that there is a lack of intelligent comment coming from the sport at a time when we should be trying to promote it in a positive way, a way which recognises human values.

"Formula One, its teams, its drivers and its sponsors, has to stand for values which are positive and aspirational. The ruling family in Bahrain have said they want to stage a race there, and we all do. But F1 must align itself with progression, not repression, and a lot of demonstrations in that country have been brutally repressed. You are either aware of that or you're not.

"It is clear, whatever anyone says, that some very violent events have taken place in Bahrain. It is not our country. It is their country. But we can't just fluff over it and pretend that the difficulties there don't exist, or that they will sort themselves out. It is an over-simplification to say that the rulers there are the bad guys and the demonstrators are the good guys. But we cannot pretend that the political situation there is not a factor, because it is."

"It is important that Formula One is not seen to be only interested in putting on the show, whatever the circumstances, " Hill concluded. "You can't just base your decision to hold a race in a country on that country's ability to pay."

Hill's comments come in the light of another flippant remark from Bernie Ecclestone. He told CNN: "What's our problem in the world at the moment? Too many over-educated people. If we can find a way to do something about that then a lot of our problems will disappear."

To date, no driver has spoken about the situation, but last night Mark Webber became the first to do so. "When people in a country are being hurt, the issues are bigger than sport," he said. "Let's hope the right decision is made."