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State of emergency in Bahrain calls rescheduling into further doubt

A state of emergency called by the crown prince has cast doubt over the likelihood of GP being rescheduled

Posted Mar 16, 2011 by Shaun Edwards

Bahrain GP

Continued unrest in the Arab state of Bahrain has called into doubt the chance of rescheduling the Grand Prix – after the original date was pulled from the calendar, Ecclestone mooted at the potential for rearranging the dates and possibly slotting the Bahrain race later on in the season. This now looks increasingly unlikely as anti-government protesters continue to bombard the capital.

The Bahrain Grand Prix was due to take place on the 13th March but civil disturbances across the country meant that Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone in conjunction with Bahrain’s crown prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa to call off the season opener that was to be held at Sakhir.

Ecclestone has already admitted that the 2011 season is going to be crammed full of action enough as it is without the added pressure of finding time to reschedule the Bahrain GP. However, the sport’s governing body the FIA gave Bahrain organisers until 1st May to decide if the event could be moved to later in the year.

The FIA have said that they will continue to honour this deadline even though the latest clashes between government troops and rebel protesters looks set to continue for some time. Indeed the crown prince’s announcement that the country is in a state of emergency security for at least three months certainly makes the odds of a reschedule unlikely.

The FIA have said that they will remain flexible and look at information surrounding the climate in the country as it comes in so they still insist they aren’t ruling anything out. The UK Foreign Office are still warning British nationals against all travel to the country (unless absolutely essential), safety for teams, officials and spectators is obviously paramount to F1 management so making the final decision is certainly going to be an important one.

Bernie Ecclestone is keen to keep a date in Bahrain in the calendar rather than arranging for the GP to be held elsewhere; he remembers the people of Bahrain for their warmth and hospitality and said that he speaks on behalf of all involved when he says that he hopes to be back in Bahrain very soon. He added that if the Crown Prince is of the opinion that a GP later in the year was safe then F1 will return to the country.

A date that was mooted for the rescheduling was August however this was immediately ruled out because of the extreme temperatures making a rescheduled race likely (if at all) to be held in November. That’s some time away, so hopefully the situation might have calmed and we can get the race back on the calendar.

I suspect that Bahrain’s Crown Prince will be keen to get F1 back into the country as soon as possible because it is undoubtedly a big money spinner for central government and the local economy. Government forces are coming down hard on protesters (rightly or wrongly) and this is a clear indication that the Crown Prince wants it to be business as usual in the Arab state so that things like F1 can return safely to the country.

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