• Bahrain Grand Prix

Decision on Bahrain GP next week - Ecclestone

ESPNF1 Staff
February 17, 2011 « Lotus piles into Proton in naming row | »
Riot police firing tear gas and wielding clubs storm a temporary encampment early on Thursday leaving at least four people dead © Press Association

Bernie Ecclestone has said a decision on whether the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead will be made next week. His comments come in the light of overnight violence in the state and the cancellation of the GP2 Asia race at the weekend.

Less than 24 hours after appearing relaxed about the situation, Ecclestone was forced to admit that it "doesn't look good".

"We'll have to keep our eye on things and make a decision quickly," he told the Press Association. "I spoke to the Crown Prince this morning. He doesn't know any more than you or I, but they're monitoring exactly what is going on. Next week we will make a decision on what we are going to do."

There was also a marked change of mood within the FIA. Yesterday, Jean Todt, the president, said he tried "not to overreact on breaking stories," adding there was "no reason for unnecessary concern". But today an FIA spokesman admitted "the president is looking at the matter closely and when there is something to announce we will let everybody know".

The decision could well be taken out of their hands as the teams are due to meet on Friday when they might agree to stay away.

The comments of two GP2 personnel in Bahrain - Team Air Asia's Davide Valsecchi and Racing Engineering team principal Alfonso- might well help some of them decide.

"My hotel is just 800m away from the centre of the riot and I could hear shots of machine guns," said Valsecchi, while d'Orleans-Borbon commented: "There are Saudi tanks everywhere, and during the night we heard shots."

The pre-season testing, scheduled to begin on March 3, looks increasingly unlikely to go ahead.

More details are emerging of violent clashes which left four dead and 300 injured in the capital Manama. Reports suggest around 2000 people in the city's main square, many of whom were asleep, were set on by around 200 security personnel using batons, tear gas and rubber bullets.