Bahrain F1 chief reflects on GP
The chief executive of the Bahrain International Circuit feels it is time "to move on" after the staging of the F1 Grand Prix on Sunday.
Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, a cousin to the Crown Prince, appeared a relieved man as he spoke in the wake of the chequered flag falling on Sebastian Vettel's 21st career victory.
It was a race many political commentators felt should not have taken place in light of unrest that continues to cast a shadow over the island.
On Monday, thousands of Bahrainis poured on to the streets to mourn the loss of another demonstrator, 36-year-old Salah Habib Abbas, allegedly killed by riot police on Friday following a raid on the village of Shakhura.
As Sunday's race took place, news also emerged of the arrest of Channel Four's foreign correspondent Jonathan Miller, along with his cameraman and producer.
Having been denied media accreditation to report on the protests, the trio arrived on tourist visas, but have now subsequently been deported.
Given the harmful backdrop to the event over the previous few days, Sheikh Salman knows more needs to be done before the staging of next year's event.
"We all know how this rollercoaster ride has been," Sheikh Salman told Press Association Sport.
"But we believed in what we do, and we hoped it would be enough, that people would see our pride, passion and performance, three values that we work on at the circuit.
"But we need to move on. I'm already thinking of debriefs, how we need to improve and all of that.
"We also need to sit down and work things out, and we will take it from there, but there is still a lot to do."
Sheikh Salman maintains he never had any concerns the race would take place, with his only doubt that of how people would perceive his country.
The headlines, in combination with photographs of protesters armed with petrol bombs clashing with police responding with tear gas, have naturally been damaging.
"From the FIA and (F1 supremo) Bernie (Ecclestone), they have always been supportive, so that helped keep our spirits high," added Sheikh Salman.
"Was there any doubt? For us, this is our seventh year and this was the first time anything like this had happened to us.
"It was hard to know how people would react, similarly with what people read looking in from the outside compared to what's on the ground.
"We know what's on the ground, but it was very difficult to convince a lot of people. So we always doubted that.
"Hopefully it's been a case of people saying 'Okay there are problems, but it's not as bad as we thought'.
"That was the only thing I didn't know - how they would react.
"So we tried to do all we could, with the parties and such like because it's what we do. Bahrain has always done that.
"It was a case of continuing on that road and saying 'If it's enough, it's enough'."
There is the hope now another 12 months will help Bahrain repair its reputation and image, and in particular the reform the people are crying out for is implemented.
"At least now, with the race having taken place, there is no blame element and us facing a host of political questions," said Sheikh Salman.
"If the race hadn't have happened fans would have been angry, and the other side would be too, and it would have been harder to sit around the table.
"With this it has helped to put people around the table, and we saw it from the opposition (al-Wefaq) as well, showing up and supporting us.
"When we said it could be a force for good, we believed in that, and I hope it is."
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