Ecclestone open to meeting Bahrain opposition

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Formula One leader Bernie Ecclestone has said that he is willing to meet opposition members leading up to this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, as anti-government protests continue to carry on in the country.

Ecclestone, who met with opposition group Al-Wefaq last year in both London and Bahrain, said that he was “happy to talk to anybody about this” according to Reuters’ Alan Baldwin.

“We don’t want to see trouble,” the British billionaire said. “We don’t want to see people arguing and fighting about things we don’t understand, because we really don’t understand… Some people feel it’s our fault there are problems.”

Indeed, multiple rights groups, as well as some British politicians, have called for either a boycott or outright cancellation of the Grand Prix. Allegations of the Bahrain government rounding up activists ahead of the race continue to persist, and the unrest in the country threatens to once again overshadow its biggest international sporting event.

“The race is going ahead and our position is quite simply to call it out for what it is — it is a political event which will serve to gloss over serious rights violations,” Human Rights Watch research Nicholas McGeehan said to the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, 1996 World Champion Damon Hill has demanded that FIA president Jean Todt take a stance on the Grand Prix itself. He also says that the F1 paddock doesn’t want any violence to ensue because of their presence.

“I think the vast majority of the people in Formula One would like to say ‘We don’t want to come here to make things worse for people,'”‘ Hill said to British reporters at last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. ” ‘We would like you to enjoy Formula One, we think Formula One has lots of positive things to offer, but please don’t, on our behalf, round up people and brutalize them.’ “‘

F1 Paddock Pass: United States Grand Prix post-race (VIDEO)

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As Lewis Hamilton took another step towards his fourth Formula 1 World Championship Sunday at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas, plenty of other topics of discussion emerged in the wake of Round 17 of the season from Austin.

Hamilton’s win came as his Mercedes AMG Petronas team claimed its fourth consecutive Constructor’s Championship, Scuderia Ferrari came up short once again despite a valiant effort in second and third, and Max Verstappen’s penalty after the race was the major talking point.

Elsewhere Valtteri Bottas struggled again, the Sahara Force India twins continued to pick up points, Carlos Sainz Jr. made a major positive impact in his first start with Renault, Brendon Hartley impressed on debut at Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean and Haas F1 Team endured a tough weekend on Haas’ home soil.

Check out all the recap from the latest USGP in the latest post-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass with NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton, below.