Circuit boss confident Bahrain race should go ahead

Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed R Alzayani has admitted to taking “a calculated decision” with regard to the staging of this year’s grand prix.

The eyes of the world are on Bahrain this week as the countdown continues in earnest to its return on the Formula 1 calendar this weekend.

Alzayani has long preached confidence the race will pass without a hitch. However, there are several demonstrations and protests planned this week ahead of the event.

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One in particular has been described by a risk assessment group as “a vehicular rally” due to take place along two of the main highways that lead up to the airport tomorrow, when most F1 personnel are due to arrive.

Yesterday’s arrival into Bahrain was peaceful enough with GP staff on hand at the airport, including a cameraman and photographer to catch the arrival of their first F1 guests.

That included drivers in Williams’s Bruno Senna, Sergio Perez from Sauber, along with two reserves in Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi and Jerome D’Ambrosio from Lotus.

Appreciably there are plenty of posters and banners promoting the race, most notably on lamp posts leading away from the airport, one especially counting down the days to Friday’s first practice.

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But given the potential for disruption, Alzayani does not believe the future of the race is at stake.

“We’ve been in Formula 1 for seven years and we will be in it for much longer than that,” said Alzayani.

“We wouldn’t take a decision on a gamble. But it’s a calculated decision, we’ve weighed up our options and we are committed to the grand prix and to its success.

“I don’t think anything drastic will happen. It’s not Syria or Afghanistan. I don’t see why anything should happen this year that hasn’t happened in the previous years.

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“I think they will probably look out for the media to try and get their message abroad, which is fine. Let them express their opinion.”

It is a question, however, of how forcefully that opinion is expressed and whether any protester goes above and beyond to do so.

A week ago seven policemen were injured, three seriously, by a petrol bomb, while a funeral march on Friday resulted in three teenagers being shot as police attempted to disperse the more volatile demonstrators.

However, Alzayani said: “It could happen in any country in the world. I can assure you most of the people who are hesitant or reluctant about Bahrain will change their perception within the first day of being here.”

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