• Bahrain unrest

Bahrain Grand Prix called off

ESPNF1 Staff
February 21, 2011 « Webber fastest on morning of final day | »

The Bahrain Grand Prix has been postponed because of the ongoing unrest inside the state. A statement this afternoon issued on behalf of Bahrain's Crown Prince said Bernie Ecclestone had been advised of the decision earlier in the day.

The announcement referred to a postponement rather than a cancellation but it is hard to see how the race could be rescheduled inside an already busy end-of-season calendar.

"At the present time the country's entire attention is focused on building a new national dialogue for Bahrain," the Crown Prince said. "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.

"After the events of the past week, our nation's priority is on overcoming tragedy, healing divisions and rediscovering the fabric that draws this country together; reminding the world of the very best that Bahrain is capable of as a nation once again united."

The final round of testing which was set to start on March 3 has been cancelled as well. The teams are due to meet in Barcelona later today to decide an alternative location.

"It's sad that Bahrain has had to withdraw from the race," Ecclestone told the BBC. "We wish the whole nation well as they begin to heal their country. 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."

He insisted the decision had not been influenced by money or the teams, but only the situation on the ground.

"The Crown Prince thought it wouldn't be the correct thing to do and that [decision] would be on safety obviously. You imagine if everybody's there and suddenly there is a little bit of an uprising again, it would be bad for everyone."

The season will now start with the Australian Grand Prix on March 27.

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