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Formula One teams reluctant to go to Bahrain

Uncertainty still surrounds the Bahrain Grand Prix. Concerns centre on the controversial regime in Bahrain, and the clampdown on internal dissent. Political considerations influenced the decision to cancel the race last year. The Bahraini authorities are determined that it should go ahead in 2012, although the Formula One teams are unenthusiastic and worried about potential protests.

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has made it clear that he believes that teams are contractually obliged to race in Bahrain. "We can't say: 'You've got to go' – although they would be in breach of their agreement with us if they didn't go – but it doesn't help," he said. "Commercially they have to go, but whether they decide to or not is up to them. I've had no one say anything other than: 'We're going to be racing in Bahrain.'"

Supporting Ecclestone’s position are comments from the British ambassador Iain Lindsay about the unrest in the country. "There are some who favour direct action on the streets," he said. "I believe they are wrong, and have little doubt that they represent a small minority of their own community and an even smaller minority of the Bahraini population."

It’s apparent that the commercial interests of the Bahraini authorities and of the FIA, the sport’s organisers are closely intertwined. Any withdrawal by one of the teams could have costly commercial sanctions. Unless, of course, they show the sort of collective solidarity that is rare in Formula One, and refuse en masse to take part. Don’t hold your breath.

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