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LATEST: Bahrain GP cancelled for the first time in its history
Civil unrest in the Gulf state has pushed back the start of the F1 season to the end of March
Posted Feb 21, 2011 by Shaun Edwards
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Civil unrest in the Gulf state of Bahrain has meant that the 2011 F1 season opener will no longer be held in Bahrain on the 14th March but has been pushed back to 27th March to be hosted in Australia.
Protestors seeking to overthrow the royal family began their uprising just over a week ago in a bid to bring more power to the people in terms of policies and decision making.
Here at Imagine F1 we expressed our doubts yesterday of the race at Sakhir going ahead and today F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone announced that after discussion with Bahrain’s crown prince, the event has now been postponed.
The official Formula 1 website have already pulled the tickets for the event off sale and the planned testing session that was due to be held in Bahrain at the start of March has been moved to Barcelona.
There is some speculation as to whether the race could be rescheduled for later in the season although sources from within the FIA have said that a decision has yet to be reached with regards to this. It is unclear when, if the event were to be re-organised, the Grand Prix could be hosted by Bahrain as the 2011 season is already pretty tightly scheduled with 19 races in 18 countries across 5 continents.
Ecclestone expressed his regret at the cancellation of the event in Bahrain but he told the BBC that he felt it was in everybody’s interest; for the safety of the teams and drivers and more importantly it would provide time for the people of Bahrain to repair their country. Bernie Ecclestone commented that the people of Bahrain are known for their “warmth and hospitality” and that everyone involved in F1 hopes to be back in Bahrain very soon.
Formula 1 coming to the country is a massive event in the local calendar providing a huge boost to the local economy so I suspect Ecclestone isn’t the only one disappointed at the decision. The Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa remarked that hosting the race would take focus away from national problems that need immediate attention but added that it was unfortunate that Bahrain can't host the season opener which has been taking place at Sakhir since 2004.
The announcement was made little over an hour ago and already the Wikipedia page has been updated to reflect this change in schedule – the efficiency of the crowd-sourced wiki is quite astounding.