Damon Hill Concerned Over the Bahrain Formula 1 Race

Motorsport

The former world champion changes his mind once again, and calls for a new examination of the situation in Bahrain before the race.

Damon Hill, the 1996 Formula 1 Champion and currently a Sky Sport pundit, has said the Bahrain GP, taking place in two weeks' time, concerns him. Hill, who last year advised against running the race before it was cancelled, has changed his mind in the last few weeks following two visits to the Gulf state. In February he said that the race can go ahead, but now he changed his mind once more and cautiously backs the cancellation of the race.

"What we must put above all else is what will be the penalty in terms of human cost if the race goes ahead," Hill told the guardian.co.uk. "It would be a bad state of affairs, and bad for Formula One, to be seen to be enforcing martial law in order to hold the race. That is not what this sport should be about. Looking at it today you'd have to say that [the race] could be creating more problems than it's solving." It is quite unusual for a pundit to speak out in such terms against the sport, and indirectly against the sport's authorities. However, Hill, who maintains the image of a consummate British gentleman, couldn't endanger his reputation by keeping his ideas to himself.

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Hill was supposed to attend the race in his new capacity. Last week Bernie Ecclestone arranged a media event to ensure to transmit confidence in the upcoming race. However, according to rumors during the Chinese Grand Prix, in 10 days' time, it will be announced that the race will be cancelled. According to a few sources, teams already have completed arrangements to ship their staff and equipment from China to Europe instead of to Bahrain. "Things are different now," Hill said. "The protests have not abated and may even have become more determined and calculated.

It is a worrying state of affairs. Promoting the race as 'Uniting Bahrain', whilst a laudable ambition, might be elevating F1 beyond even its own prodigious powers. I hope the FIA are considering the implications of this fully and that events in Bahrain are not seen as they are often sold, as a bunch of yobs throwing Molotov cocktails, because that's a gross simplification."

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