Bahrain prepares for Formula One debut

Organisers of Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix insist they have taken every possible step to ensure security.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:06 IST
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Organisers of Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix insist they have taken every possible step to ensure security. The build-up to the historic race, the first Formula One event to be hosted by a Middle Eastern country, has been dominated by the issue of terrorist threats. And they have support from six times world champion Michael Schumacher, who says he is confident the safety measures will be high. On the track, Schumacher will be attempting to make it three wins out of three in the 2004 season. The Formula One circus moves on to the Middle East this weekend for the Bahrain Grand Prix. It's the first time that the kingdom - or indeed any Middle Eastern country - has hosted an F1 race, and the build-up has, predictably, been dominated by concerns regarding terrorist threats. Organisers insist they have taken all the security measures possible to ensure the race goes ahead without incident, and several of the drivers, including six-time world champion Michael Schumacher, have said they have no fears about making the trip to the Gulf region. But given the current international situation, and with the race crucial to F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone's plans for the sport's expansion, security around the US$100million Bahrain International Circuit will be extremely tight. The National Guard have also been placed on 24-hour alert while advice on anti-terrorist measures has been taken from the security forces. On the track, Michael Schumacher will be aiming for a third successive victory in the third race of the 2004 season. The German holds a seven-point advantage over Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello in second place. Juan Pablo Montoya, who many tipped to challenge Schumacher for the title this year, is a further point behind in third. If the teams and drivers are confident over safety measures, one factor they are definitely concerned about is the sand, namely the possibility that it could blow off the desert surrounding the track and into the car works. Organisers have even sprayed a special glue over sand around the circuit to stop it being picked up by the wind. All in all a difficult build up to an historic event then, with all involved hoping that the Grand Prix is remembered for the action on, rather than off the track. (AP)