The debate over the Bahrain Grand Prix continues...

Bernie Ecclestone has held another self-described ‘PR offensive’ – this time with a host of senior F1 figures towing the corporate line to show their support – for the upcoming Bahrain Grand Prix, which makes its return to the calendar in April despite continued concerns over security in the island dictatorship kingdom.

Joining Ecclestone at the London function were Williams team founder Sir Frank Williams, F1 team principals Martin Whitmarsh and Christian Horner, Mercedes AMG F1’s Nick Fry and Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery.

“It’s all nonsense,” Ecclestone said of recent reports that claimed that the FIA was set to cancel this year’s race. “We’ll be there as long as they want us.

“Seriously, the press should just be quiet and deal with the facts rather than make up stories.”

What is interesting – or concerning, depending on your position – is that Ecclestone is now apparently a self-proclaimed expert on human rights, particularly given his assertion that any unrest in the country is being caused by a mere handful of dissidents in the world.

Perhaps his statements might have gone down a little better if representatives of some non-government organisations and independent human rights agencies were present, but their invitations seem to have gone missing in the mail…

Is Bernie now an expert in human rights as well?Should we now believe that the tens of thousands of protestors who staged vocal anti-government protests a year ago are now well and happy in the country, despite the documented incidents of torture and illegal arrests handed out to many opposition party supporters? Equally, should we just turn a blind eye to the fact that the country has shown little, if any, progress to address the findings of the published reports that were critical of the government’s response to the uprising?

Predictably, both sides of the Bahrain argument are claiming the other side is grossly distorting the truth.

There is no doubt that small, incremental steps are being made to bring about greater democracy in the country. There is equally little doubt that the intention behind staging the race – which is to bring hope to the country and to demonstrate that it is making progress – are honourable.

But that equally does not mean that any protestors are just going to sit idly by, and it also doesn’t mean that the government security forces will just turn a blind eye to any protests that might be staged that could have a disruptive effect on the Grand Prix.

Do you believe that Formula 1 should go to Bahrain this year in light of the apparent security concerns? Post your comments below…

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.