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."


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