Organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix have been given a deadline of May 1 to decide whether or not the Kingdom is able to stage a race this year.
Bahrain was due to host the season-opening grand prix at Sakhir this weekend, but the country’s Crown Prince postponed the event following recent unrest.
The race is expected to eventually be rescheduled for later in the year, but Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One chief, said earlier this month he expected the new date to be finalised before the start of the season in Melbourne on March 27.
Yet during a Federation International de l’Automobile (FIA) meeting yesterday in Paris, it was announced the final decision would be delayed. “The World Motor Sport Council asked the Bahrain Motor Federation to communicate by May 1st at the latest if the Bahrain Grand Prix can be organised in 2011,” read a statement issued by the FIA.
The announcement means teams will compete in the first three grands prix – Australia, Malaysia and China – without knowing whether they will be travelling to Bahrain later in the year.
Instead of travelling to the Middle East this weekend, the 12 race teams have remained in Spain where they are carrying out the final testing session at Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo, 40km north of Barcelona. The National
Ecclestone was insistent he wanted Bahrain to stage a grand prix in 2011, as Formula One gears up for its busiest ever season, with 20 races planned.
He told F1’s official website: “We don’t need an alternative race anywhere in Europe or any other place.
“We need a race in Bahrain. If the Crown Prince is of the opinion that his country is able to host a race we will return to Bahrain.” CNN International
Bahrain circuit boss Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa last night welcomed the FIA’s decision to give Bahrain until May to decide whether the postponed Bahrain Grand Prix can be rescheduled this year.
He stressed, however, that full focus must first be given to establishing the proposed national dialogue and peacefully resolving the kingdom’s current political situation, which has forced this weekend’s F1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix to be called off.
“We at BIC work so hard throughout the year to put on one of the greatest F1 weekends of the world championship; and while it is important for us to have our race, our complete concentration right now must be on a national dialogue,” Shaikh Salman said.
“I am very happy that we have been given more time by the FIA to accomplish our national goals, so that we may hopefully stage our Grand Prix later this year,” Shaikh Salman added. “When things get better, we will do what we can to be back on the race calendar.