Formula One: Pressure mounts over Bahrain

Pressure mounted Thursday on Formula One's world governing body to make a swift decision over the Bahrain Grand Prix, as drivers admitted it was distracting them from this weekend's Shanghai race.

The Bahrain event, roiled by more than a year of anti-government demonstrations, is only 10 days away and was the hottest topic of conversation in Shanghai, which hosts the third grand prix of the season Sunday.

The FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) and many drivers attempted to get the focus back on the Chinese Grand Prix, but the fate of the Gulf race on April 22 would not go away.

"So, Bahrain?" Red Bull's Australian driver Mark Webber said, unprompted, to open his press briefing.

"There's no beating around the bush, it is sensitive out there," said Webber, attempting to pick his words carefully.

"We can only go on what the FIA are reading into the situation and obviously we are putting in an enormous amount of trust -- I don't mean 'we' the drivers, I'm talking about you guys, photographers, caterers, everybody going...

"Clearly there are some massive decisions to be made and it looks like they are being made, and let's hope it goes well."

The FIA, which kept tight-lipped on Thursday, last year postponed the Bahrain race before removing it from last season's schedule altogether over the demonstrations.

The Gulf state says the situation is calm and the race would be a chance for Bahrain to unite, but ongoing protests and violence, including a bomb attack on Monday that wounded seven policemen, has put the event in jeopardy again.

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, the commercial rights holder, this week put the ball back in the teams' court, saying he could not force them to go.

The teams are reportedly keen not to take part, but say they cannot make the decision to cancel the race and are looking for the FIA to tell them what to do.

Webber, 35, said there were moral and safety considerations -- demonstrators have said they would target the race -- to take into account, but a decision needed to be made quickly.

"It is now a difficult decision because we're a week away," he said.

"Things can be called off in a flash... You start to get more nervous as the day comes and now it's topical, there's a lot more pressure to be made in the decision-making process.

"It's on the FIA, as the teams and Bernie (Ecclestone) have stated."

Webber added: "It has been distracting. Trying to give a fair and correct position on Bahrain with you guys is something that I try to be fair with and you want to get that right.

"It's an unusual position for a grand prix driver to be put in."

Briton Lewis Hamilton, who drives for McLaren, said he was eager to focus on getting his first win of the season in Shanghai.

"I don't think it's my place or anyone else's place to really comment," he replied when asked about his personal feelings about the prospect of going to Bahrain.

"We all just have to look at the FIA and wait for their decision."

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