Ecclestone plays down fresh Bahrain unrest
London: Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has played down the outbreak of fresh unrest in Bahrain, insisting the violence posed no threat to this season`s Grand Prix.
Bahraini police fired tear gas and birdshot at pro-democracy protesters in clashes early Wednesday as the kingdom marked the first anniversary of a Shiite-led uprising.
The violence revived memories of last year`s unrest, which ultimately led to the cancellation of the 2011 race, which is due to take place this season on April 20-22 at Sakhir.
However Ecclestone told The Guardian on Wednesday that the clashes were unlikely to lead to another cancellation.
"I expected there was going to be a big uprising, with the anniversary," Ecclestone was quoted as saying.
"But I think what happened, apparently, was that here were a lot of kids having a go at the police. I don`t think it`s anything serious at all. It doesn`t change our position in any shape or form.
"If the people in Bahrain (the government) say, `Look Bernie, it wouldn`t be good for you to come over here,` then I would think again. That is what they said last year."
Motorsport`s governing body the FIA meanwhile backed staging this year`s race in Bahrain.
"The FIA, like many in the diplomatic community in the kingdom, the main political opposition, as well as the UK-Bahrain All-Party Parliamentary Group writing in the Times, believes the staging of a grand prix would be beneficial in bridging some of the difficulties Bahrain is experiencing," a spokesman said.
"The FIA is not in a position to influence political matters in a sovereign country such as Bahrain and we can only wish for a long-term peaceful solution."