• Bahrain unrest

Bahrain Grand Prix hopes fade

ESPNF1 Staff
April 4, 2011 « FIA working towards electric car championship | »
A deserted track in Bahrain in March ... and it seems it will stay that way © Getty Images

Despite a concerted attempt by the Bahrain authorities to convince the world normality has returned to the state following February's pro-democracy uprising, chances of the Bahrain Grand Prix being rescheduled for the end of the season appear to have all but disappeared.

The media charm offensive may have gained the authorities a few favourable column inches, but a state of emergency remains and it is reported by independent assessors several hundred dissenters remain under arrest and as many as a hundred have disappeared.

The local media is now under strict control, overseas journalists are restricted in their activities, and a large number of overseas forces remain in the kingdom, ostensibly to protect vital installations. On Sunday, the main opposition newspaper, Al Wasat, was suspended by the authorities, although publishing resumed on Monday under a new editor.

Officially, the FIA has given organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix until May 1 to decide if the race can take place in 2011, but few now believe it will happen even if the authorities - which have close links to the ruling royal family who are at the heart of protestors ire - give the all-clear. The FIA and Formula One have too much to lose and little to gain by staging the race.

The UK Foreign Office continues to advise against "all but essential travel to Bahrain until further notice".