Motorsport: Ecclestone bides time on Bahrain call
Published 19/02/2011 | 05:00
There was yet more bloodshed and confusion on the streets of Bahrain yesterday as the political unrest,which has plagued the tiny island kingdom all week, showed no signs of abating.
Bernie Ecclestone began the day "hopeful" that Formula One's season-opening Grand Prix on March 13 would go ahead. However, the sport's chief executive later admitted the situation had deteriorated, adding: "We should wait and see what happens over the weekend.
On Thursday -- after the cancellation of this weekend's GP2 Asia race in Bahrain -- Ecclestone had suggested that he would make a decision on the Grand Prix "by Tuesday or Wednesday" of next week.
But with tanks occupying the capital city of Manama yesterday morning, and a lull in the violence as thousands of protesters gathered at nearby Sitra for the funerals of earlier victims, the 80-year-old felt sufficiently emboldened to predict the turmoil might blow itself out.
"Our people there say: 'It's quiet, no problems'," Ecclestone said around lunchtime, just before reports of further chaos in Manama where the main hospital was inundated with injured and dying protesters fleeing bullets and tear gas.
Later, having been apprised of the latest violence, Ecclestone backtracked considerably.
Meanwhile, in Barcelona, where F1 teams are conducting the third of four pre-season tests, world champion Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time of the day, going over a second faster than second-placed Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari. However, track conditions were difficult to read. Jenson Button was fifth fastest in his McLaren. (© Daily Telegraph, London)