UK Lords, MP call for Bahrain F1 rethink

Seven members of the UK’s House of Lords and a leading MP have appealed to Formula 1 chiefs to cancel this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix, which is due to take place in April.

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In a letter to The Times newspaper, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, Lord Alton, Lord Avebury, Lord Hylton, Lord Boswell, Baroness Falkner of Margravine and Green Party leader Caroline Lucas have voiced their opposition to the Gulf kingdom staging the race on April 22, the Press Association reported. With the anniversary of Day of Rage in Bahrain approaching, the eight-strong group claims violence remains rife in the country and has called on world motor sport’s governing body to act. The letter read: “We note with concern the decision by Formula One to go ahead with the race in Bahrain scheduled for April.”The continued political crisis in Bahrain is a troubling source of instability in the Gulf region, and the lack of any move towards political reconciliation concerns those who wish to see Bahrain move in the direction of greater democratic accountability.”It was hoped the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) would provide a starting point for political reform which both government and opposition forces could agree upon.”However, two months on we see an entrenchment of the positions of both sides which risks letting more extreme voices dictate the progress of the conflict. “Given the current dire situation, with daily street protests and the deaths of more civilians, we do not believe that the time is right for Formula One to return to Bahrain.”

Last month, former F1 champion Damon Hill said he was in favour of the race going ahead in April despite calls for a boycott. Hill, who recently visited the Gulf kingdom, said he “did not like seeing people shot and brutalised,” but added that Formula One could return with a clear conscience this year.

Bahrain’s season-opening race at Sakhir circuit was postponed last March after widespread political unrest in the country and the deaths of a number of pro-reform demonstrators. Efforts were made to reschedule the race, but the Gulf state was eventually dropped from the 2011 calendar in June after protests from Formula One teams and drivers.

Rights groups in Bahrain last month urged F1 teams and fans to boycott the April grand prix in protest at abuses in the kingdom.

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