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Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead despite political strife, says defiant Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone

BERNIE Ecclestone has categorically insisted the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead next weekend, unless there is a late call off by the local organisers.

Ecclestone was pressed upon the thorny issue of Bahrain as he arrived at the paddock in Shanghai ahead of Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix, which has become completely overshadowed by events in the Gulf kingdom.

The 81 year-old is to meet with all team principals n Friday, and although denying Bahrain is on the agenda, it would be a surprise if it is not discussed at some stage.

With FIA president Jean Todt due in Shanghai on Saturday, it is understood a definitive answer as to whether F1 heads to Bahrain is due this weekend.

As far as Ecclestone is concerned, however, the race is on.

"We are here and we are going to be in Bahrain," he said.

"It's another race on the calendar, it's scheduled.

"The only people that can do anything about it is the National Sporting Authority in the country.

"They can ask for it to be withdrawn from the calendar. Unless it gets withdrawn by them, then we'll be there."

Ecclestone has reiterated the fact he has no concerns regarding safety, despite threats made by one protest group who have vowed to disrupt the race.

Asked if he felt it would be safe, Ecclestone said: "According to what I've been told, yes.

"Apparently people are there carrying out their business as normal, so I'm told.

"A guy from Lotus went over to check things recently and he said it was business as usual. But I don't know, I haven't been there.

"But I don't see why it should be (dangerous). I don't think the people in Bahrain have anything against Formula One team people or journalists."

Ecclestone has again confirmed he will be in attendance, adding: "I shall be there, for sure.

"I hope everybody is there. We shouldn't be getting involved with other people's politics.

"We enter a country in the normal way. We don't deal with the religion or the politics.

"It's not our business running the country. So we go there. If it was a pop singer they'd be there, they'd sing.

"I've not heard the teams express any concerns, and I think Sebastian Vettel said he's happy to be there."

Jokingly asked as to whether he felt anybody should cancel their hotel bookings, he said: "No, I wouldn't do that if I was you."