Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bahrain: Former F1 Driver Damon Hill Endorses Formula One's Return to Bahrain

SOURCE Kingdom of Bahrain

MANAMA, Bahrain, Jan. 20, 2012 -- After a visit to Bahrain, former Formula One driver and soon-to-be Sky Sports commentator Damon Hill is urging the return of Bahrain's F1 race and acknowledging positive changes in the country's government.

In an interview with the Times, Hill explains what prompted his change of heart after pushing for the race's cancellation last year.

"I was frustrated that Formula One did not raise its voice against what was happening. But a lot has changed there since then," he said. "It is clear that the situation in Bahrain is better understood and I don't think anyone would want to go back to Bahrain if there was suffering just because of a grand prix."

First-hand experience led to Hill's altered perspective on the country's political climate and safety, he says.

"I listened to a lot of people there, including eye-witnesses. I believe they are making change for the better. There is no question they have issues, but every country has issues; we had riots here in the UK not so long ago. This time, Formula One can go to Bahrain with a clear conscience and not just as a tool for some sort of cover-up," he said.

Earlier this week the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) announced the reinstatement of employees, as advised by the Bahrain International Commission of Inquiry report.

"We are approaching a crucial time of the year at BIC, with the hosting of the Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix coming up in three months' time," Zayed Rashid Al Zayani, BIC's chairman of the board, said. "We look forward to working again as one unit, as we have done in the past, to show the world what Bahrain is really about."