Just days after Bernie Ecclestone insisted he had no concerns about taking Formula One back to Bahrain, April's grand prix has been thrown into doubt by reports that the US State Department is moving American Embassy employees to safer locations in the island kingdom due to ongoing political unrest.
The 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix was initially postponed and then cancelled altogether after anti-government protests last spring led to at least 35 deaths but Ecclestone, Formula One's chief executive, said over the weekend that he was confident this year's race would go ahead.
"Everyone talks a lot about this part of the world, but Bahrain is the country in the region where there are the fewest problems," Ecclestone said.
His confidence was shared by Damon Hill, who was vehemently against the race taking place last year, but whose views have mellowed in the wake of a visit to the country with FIA president Jean Todt.
"I was frustrated that Formula One did not raise its voice against what was happening," the 1996 world champion said last week.
"But a lot has changed there since then. It is clear that the situation in Bahrain is better understood and I don't think anyone would want to go back to Bahrain if there was suffering just because of a grand prix."I listened to a lot of people there, including eyewitnesses. I believe they are making change for the better.
"There is no question they have issues, but every country has issues; we had riots here in the UK not so long ago. This time, Formula One can go to Bahrain with a clear conscience and not just as a tool for some sort of cover-up."
However, with the anniversary of Bahrain's uprising approaching, the US State Department issued a statement on Monday claiming that frequent clashes in Manama have forced people to remain indoors and have disrupted travel.
The statement added that embassy staff and their families are being shifted to other neighbourhoods to avoid the violence. Bahrain is a key ally of the United States, and hosts the US 5th Naval Fleet.
The development will come as a blow to Bahrain's rulers who have been desperately trying to alter the international image of the country in recent months.
They claim that many of reports of unrest have been exaggerated and that subversive elements are making their task of restoring order more difficult.
They also point out that King Hamad commissioned an independent investigation into what went on last spring and has acted swiftly upon its findings.
The investigation uncovered many cases of human rights abuses and made a number of recommendations.
As part of the "reconciliation process" Bahrain's king recently ordered the reinstatement of all those workers at the Bahrain International Circuit who lost their jobs for failing to turn up to work in the wake of last year's riots.
Despite reports that some of those workers had refused their old jobs back, Telegraph Sport understands that all of those dismissed for failing to turn up to work have now returned; that is to say, 22 of the 27 staff who lost their jobs.
The other five are understood to have been dismissed for unrelated breaches of contract.