Vettel ready to race in Bahrain
SHANGHAI, April 11 — Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel made clear today he was ready to race in Bahrain next week should the sport’s decision makers stick to plans to hold the grand prix despite mounting protests.
However the 24-year-old Red Bull driver, winner of the last two titles, told Reuters at an event for carmaker Infiniti ahead of Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix that he could not say what the outcome would be.
“First of all we have the race here so I am looking forward to the race here in Shanghai, which is going to happen,” the German said.
“Regarding next week, I think I don’t know more than you know. The latest comment was that we are going to Bahrain to race there I think.”
He added that if that remained the case “then I think it is safe enough to go and we should go there and race and not worry about something that is not our own business.”
Last year’s race in Bahrain was cancelled following an uprising and bloody crackdown. There are probably more within the Formula One paddock who feel now is not the right time to go back as there are those in favour.
Britain’s 1996 world champion Damon Hill, who had spoken out against going last year but had been a supporter 12 months on, reversed his position again this month when he called for a re-think.
“It would be a bad state of affairs, bad for Formula One, to be seen to be enforcing martial law to hold the race,” he told the Guardian newspaper.
The Formula One Teams Association, which includes seven teams but not Vettel’s, have said the decision is not their’s to make and have said it is up to the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) to offer guidance.
The FIA and commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who is close to Vettel, have both expressed a desire for the race to proceed as planned.
Two members of the Lotus team who visited Bahrain earlier this month also lent support to the race going ahead in a report circulated to all the teams. It spoke of the likelihood of peaceful protests rather than any threat of violence.
Others disagree, and point to the wounding of seven policemen on Monday after a home-made bomb exploded in a Shi’ite village outside Manama.
The situation in Bahrain has also grown more tense with protesters and international rights groups calling for the release of jailed activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who has been on hunger strike since February 8. — Reuters