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Bahrain Removed From F1 Schedule

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, February 24 2011

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Formula One’s 2011 season-opener has fallen victim to the political unrest sweeping the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Confirming a rumor that had widely circulated over the weekend, officials of the Bahrain International Circuit confirmed Monday that the Kingdom had withdrawn as host of the Formula One Grand Prix of Bahrain because of continuing protests aimed at democratic reform.

F1’s opener, originally scheduled for March 11-13, will now shift to the Australian Grand Prix on March 27. Bahrain reportedly could resurface on the 2011 schedule as the season-ender.

Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa set the process into motion when he consulted with Formula One powerbroker Bernie Ecclestone on Friday.

“Although Bernie Ecclestone had graciously made clear that a decision on the race was entirely Bahrain’s to make and was not yet required, we felt it was important for the country to focus on immediate issues of national interest and leave the hosting of Bahrain’s Formula One race to a later date,” the Prince said.

“It is sad that Bahrain has had to withdraw from the race; we wish the whole nation well as they begin to heal their country,” Ecclestone said. “The hospitality and warmth of the people of Bahrain is a hallmark of the race there, as anyone who has been at a Bahrain Grand Prix will testify. We look forward to being back in Bahrain soon.”

Meanwhile, the season’s final winter test of Pirelli’s new tire compounds also has been affected by the cancellation. Barcelona, Spain, now will play host to the final session from March 8-11, two weeks before the revised opener.

“It is obviously disappointing for everyone involved in the organization of the event,” said Williams CEO Adam Parr, “but it is clear that to race in Bahrain at this time would be inappropriate given the current circumstances.”

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, February 24 2011
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