Thursday 20 July 2017

Motorsport: Todt refusing to push panic button ahead of Bahrain GP

Declan Quigley

FIA President Jean Todt says the F1 governing body will adopt a wait and see policy amid reports that the season opener in Bahrain could be in doubt.

The political turmoil in the island state has led to suggestions that the grand prix will be targeted by protesters and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has admitted to concerns about safety.

Nabeel Rajab, vice president of campaign group Bahrain Center for Human Rights, has indicated that the Bahrain GP on March 13 could be used as a publicity vehicle by political protesters.

"For sure F1 is not going to be peaceful this time," said Rajab. "There'll be lots of journalists, a lot of people looking and (the government) will react in a stupid manner (again). And that will be bloody, but will be more publicised."

However, Todt, speaking in Dublin yesterday at the launch of a new Motorsport Ireland road safety initiative aimed at young drivers, says he will wait to see the outcome of this weekend's GP2 Asia series races in Bahrain before making a further assessment of the situation.

Reality

"I always try not to over-react on breaking stories," said Todt. "Number one, you have to check what is the reality -- which is not always what you hear -- and to react without too much emotion and to face properly the problem.

"There has been some movement in Bahrain. I understand things are improving and we have to wait.

"The next step is the GP2 race this weekend... Of course the essence of the FIA is safety; safety on the racing car, safety on the road, safety in our organisation. So that's what we are claiming, but at the moment there is no reason to have unnecessary concern."

Todt's presence in Dublin coincided with the launch of Motorsport Ireland's new road safety initiative aimed at educating young drivers, part of the FIA-supported UN Decade of Road Safety.

With a strong record on event safety and organisation, Motorsport Ireland is keen to take a responsible role in spreading the message of safe driving.

Young rally drivers Craig Breen and Toni Kelly will be supporting that message as Ambassadors for Road Safety.

Breen attended the launch on the back of his hugely impressive snow rallying debut on the first round of the world rally championship in Sweden last weekend.

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