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Heidfeld: Sensitivity needed in decision

Saturday 19th February 2011

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Heidfeld: Sensitivity needed in decision

Heidfeld: Sensitivity needed in decision

Nick Heidfeld believes F1's rulers should be sensitive to the Bahraini people when it comes to making a decision on whether next month's season-opening grand prix gets the go ahead or not.

The island kingdom was again rocked by further unrest on Friday as the army and police moved in on anti-Government demonstrators who earlier in the day had attended the funerals of three protesters.

Formula One is undoubtedly on edge at the prospect of visiting a country at the centre of such political unrest and uncertainty.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has promised a decision will be made by next Wednesday at the latest as to whether the race is given the green light or cancelled.

Heidfeld, this week confirmed as a Renault driver in the absence of the injured Robert Kubica, feels there is more at stake than just the safety of drivers, team personnel, media and fans.

"It is not only down to how it is for the drivers, but how it is to the general public, to everybody who visits, to all the spectators and whether the risk is too high," said Heidfeld.

"It's not just about the safety of those involved, but being sensitive to what is going on in the country."

The latest violent disturbances prompted a change of tack from Ecclestone late Friday.

The 80-year-old had initially stated he was "more hopeful" of the race being staged compared to 24 hours earlier after four people had been killed and hundreds more injured as riot police stormed a camp of demonstrators in the capital Manama.

But in the wake of further turmoil, and after being contacted by Press Association Sport, Ecclestone confirmed his mind had changed on the situation.

"From a realistic point of view it appears that things are changing hourly," added Ecclestone.

"I feel the most important thing now is to wait until after the weekend, to see what happens over the next few days, and then make a decision next Tuesday or Wednesday."

World Champion Sebastian Vettel, speaking after the first day of the penultimate pre-season test in Barcelona, knows his fate is in the hands of the sport's authorities as to whether he starts the defence of his crown in Bahrain.

"Obviously I can only judge from what I see in the media," said Vettel.

"I think if we go there then it's safe enough, and if we don't go there they've told me it's not.

"When we take a decision we do so all together, the teams, which includes the drivers, the FIA, and Formula One in general."

The teams, meanwhile, have vowed to simply follow the guidance they are given by Ecclestone and motor sport's world governing body, the FIA.

Speaking on behalf of the Formula One Teams' Association following a two-hour meeting in Barcelona, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: "It's obviously a really difficult situation in Bahrain.

"But we have complete trust in Bernie, FOM [Formula One Management] and the FIA to make the right decision. They will only send us there if it is safe.

"It would be a great shame to lose the race, but it's not the teams' decision - it's down to the promoter.

"Bernie and the FIA will have much more information than us and we will trust their decisions."

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