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Schumacher: I feel safe in Bahrain

updated 6:57 AM EDT, Fri April 13, 2012
  • Michael Schumacher says he feels safe going to Bahrain
  • Seven-time champion has friends in the gulf kingdom
  • Red Bull's Mark Webber says he wants to race in Bahrain
  • F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone meeting teams Friday

(CNN) -- Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher has dismissed security fears ahead of next week's Bahrain Grand Prix.

The race is in doubt for the second straight year amid anti-government protests and civil unrest in the Gulf kingdom.

Seven policemen were injured Monday in a demonstration calling for the release of human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is on a hunger strike in protest at the life sentence he received for his alleged role in the ongoing troubles.

But Schumacher, who is in Shanghai ahead of this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, told CNN he had no concerns about competing in Bahrain.

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"I have good friends over there and I feel safe there," he said.

Schumacher's Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg told CNN that he had confidence in the FIA, the world governing body of motorsport, to make the right decision.

"They are the best people to judge, we just have to trust the FIA," he said.

Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone is due to meet the 12 F1 team principals in Shanghai Friday and FIA president Jean Todt when he arrives in China 24 hours later.

Ecclestone told gathered reporters that he believed the grand prix, the fourth round of this year's championship, would still go ahead.

"It's another race on the calendar, it's scheduled," said the 81-year-old. "The only people that can do anything about it is the National Sporting Authority in the country.

"They can ask for it to be withdrawn from the calendar. Unless it gets withdrawn by them, then we'll be there."

If we had a choice would we go? I want to race. That is what I would like to go there and do
Mark Webber

Red Bull's Mark Webber, who publicly opposed going to Bahrain last year, told his official press conference Thursday that he wanted to race, but it was a difficult decision.

"I have tried to watch the news to get the most balanced view that I can possibly get without getting too corrupted by false information," Webber told gathered reporters.

"It has been a little quieter, but this is Mark Webber sitting here -- I have as much information as anyone else.

"If we had a choice would we go? I want to race. That is what I would like to go there and do.

"But saying that you cannot ignore the fact that all of us, in the backs of our minds, want it to go down smoothly and don't want it to be involved in the unrest."

Meanwhile, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton has had a five-place grid penalty imposed for Sunday's race in Shanghai due to a change of gearbox.

Hamilton, who has started on pole for the opening two races of the season, finishing third each time, will now occupy the third row at best due to the penalty.

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