• Bahrain Grand Prix

Hill backing for Bahrain

ESPNF1 Staff
January 18, 2012 « February 6 launch for RB8 | Caterham confirms Leafield move »
Damon Hill: "I believe they (Bahrain) are making change for the better" © Sutton Images

Damon Hill believes Formula One can return to Bahrain in 2012 "with a clear conscience" after personally visiting the country.

The 2011 race was cancelled amid unrest in Bahrain, with reports of protestors being tortured. While the circuit has reinstated employees sacked for their roles in the protests, the situation still remains unclear as a human rights group recently called on the teams and drivers to boycott the grand prix.

Before being unveiled as a Sky Sports pundit, Hill visited Bahrain with FIA president Jean Todt to see the situation for himself. Hill said that while he felt the sport should have taken more of a stance against the situation in 2011 the time was right to return.

"I do not like seeing people shot and brutalised," Hill told The Times. "I was frustrated last year that Formula One did not raise its voice against what was happening. But a lot has changed there since then. It is clear that the situation in Bahrain is better understood and I don't think anyone would want to go back to Bahrain if there was suffering just because of a grand prix.

"I listened to a lot of people there, including eye-witnesses. I believe they are making change for the better. There is no question they have issues - but every country has issues; we had riots here in the UK not so long ago. I heard both sides of the story and, this time, Formula One can go to Bahrain with a clear conscience and not just as a tool for some sort of cover-up."

The 2012 race is scheduled to take place on April 22.