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Bahrain Grand Prix to Go Ahead April 22 as Scheduled, FIA Says

Bernie Ecclestone
Formula One’s governing body said the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead as scheduled on April 22 amid civil unrest in the Gulf nation. Photographer: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Formula One’s governing body said the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead as scheduled on April 22 amid civil unrest in the Gulf nation.

The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile said today that it’s “satisfied that all the proper security measures are in place” to stage the fourth race of the 2012 Formula One world championship at the Bahrain International Circuit.

“The FIA must make rational decisions based on the information provided to us by the Bahraini authorities and by the commercial rights holder,” the Paris-based FIA said in a statement on its website. “In addition, we have endeavored to assess the ongoing situation in Bahrain.”

After mass protests by mostly Shiite demonstrators demanding democracy and equal rights from the Sunni monarchy, last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix was switched to October from March and eventually canceled.

Smaller-scale protests are still taking place daily in Shiite villages and sometimes spill over to Manama, Bahrain’s capital. Opposition groups had called on supporters to step up rallies before the race.

Bahrain first hosted Formula One in 2004 on a state-funded $150 million circuit in the desert south of Manama.

The racing series, controlled by CVC Capital Partners Ltd., got $175.9 million from trackside advertising and hosting fees from Bahrain and Abu Dhabi races in 2010, according to London-based industry monitor Formula Money.

Daimler AG’s Mercedes and Red Bull are among five Formula One teams part-owned or supported by governments or sovereign wealth funds in the Gulf region.

The third of 20 races on the 2012 calendar, the Chinese Grand Prix takes place in two days in Shanghai. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso leads the world championship ahead of McLaren duo Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

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