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Webber: F1 wrong to reinstate Bahrain

Mark Webber has been the only F1 driver to take a public stance about the decision to race in Bahrain.
Mark Webber has been the only F1 driver to take a public stance about the decision to race in Bahrain.
  • Mark Webber "uncomfortable" with decision to stage race in Bahrain
  • Red Bull driver says it is unlikely the that rescheduled event will go ahead
  • Bahrain had been due to open season in March but was postponed due to civil unrest
  • F1 chiefs made decision to reinstate the race after visiting the kingdom on Tuesday

(CNN) -- Red Bull driver Mark Webber has cast doubt on the Bahrain Grand Prix taking place this year, even though the race has been reinstated on the Formula One calendar.

F1's ruling body the FIA announced on Friday that the gulf kingdom, which was supposed to stage the event in March at the start of the season, will hold it at the end of October.

The FIA's decision came after its top officials visited the island on Tuesday, and the following day Bahrain's ruler lifted the state of emergency laws that had facilitated the restriction of political leaders and journalists.

But Webber has joined the 12 F1 teams in refusing to back the move, which has outraged human rights groups around the world.

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"My opinion is unchanged since I was first asked about this in late February. Even though a decision has been made, I'll be highly surprised if the Bahrain Grand Prix goes ahead this year," the Australian told his personal website on Saturday.

"The sport should have taken a much firmer stance earlier this year rather than constantly delaying its decision in hope of being able to reschedule it in 2011. It would have sent a very clear message about F1's position on something as fundamental as human rights and how it deals with moral issues.

"It's obvious that the parties involved have struggled to reach a decision, but sadly I feel that they still haven't made the right one. Like it or not, F1 and sport in general isn't above having a social responsibility and conscience. I hope F1 is able to return to Bahrain eventually, but now isn't the right time."

Webber, who helped Red Bull win the manufacturers' title last year while teammate Sebastian Vettel claimed the drivers' championship, has been the only one of his peers to comment publicly on the situation in Bahrain.

"As a competitor I do not feel at all comfortable going there to compete in an event when, despite reassurances to the contrary, it seems inevitable that it will cause more tension for the people of that country," he said.

"I don't understand why my sport wishes to place itself in a position to be a catalyst for that."