Bahrain returns to 2011 F1 calendar

Posted: June 4, 2011 in Bahrain, News
Tags: , ,

Alonso celebrates winning in Bahrain last year

The Bahrain Grand Prix will go-ahead this year following an unanimous decision by the FIA World Motor Sport Council.

The race will take place on 30 October, with the Indian Grand Prix moving to the second week in December.

But the decision is a contentious one with many of the teams and drivers speaking out against racing in the Middle East whilst protests are still taking place.

“When people in a country are being hurt, the issues are bigger than sport. Let’s hope the right decision is made,” said Mark Webber on Twitter, just hours before the decision was made.

Avaaz, an international campaign group with nine million members, had spent the past week lobbying against the possible rescheduling. 1996 F1 world champion Damon Hill backed their efforts.

Alex Wilks, campaign director for Avaaz, said: “Formula One’s decision is a kick in the teeth for the Bahraini people.

“The race will happen in a country where government troops continue to shoot and arrest peaceful protesters.

“Now F1, plus Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, and every other team will be directly linked with a bloody crackdown that’s ruined the lives of hundreds of innocent people.”

Pro-democracy demonstrations earlier this year led to the deaths of 30 people, with hundreds of protesters detained, many of whom still remain in custody, and the cancellation of the race.

Bahrain has since lobbied hard for their grand prix to return to the calendar, despite the apparent ongoing oppression of their people.

It was meant to host the season-opening race but had to postpone in light of the large security and safety threat.

Zayed R. Alzayani, chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit, said: “By the time the grand prix arrives we will be able to remind the world about Bahrain at its best.

But just because the race has been rescheduled does not necessarily mean that it will be a fully attended race with some teams reluctant to travel to the Middle East for both moral and insurance reasons.

A McLaren spokesperson said: “All FOTA teams (only Hispania Racing are not represented) acknowledge the decision made by the FIA World Motor Sport Council today.

“That decision is likely to be discussed internally within FOTA, and a more detailed joint position may be defined after those discussions have taken place.”

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Comments
  1. Tom Wright says:

    I think this story will run and run over the summer. Very bold to make this call based on an assumption of what it will be like in 4-5 months. Any slight sign of trouble and teams will back out for fear of safety and commercial loss (no major car company nor sponsor will want to be associated with Bahrain situation).

  2. rcordell1 says:

    It seems a strange decision to allow this race to happen considering the situation. The State Emergency may have been cut short but by going ahead with the race it endorses the actions of the monarchy in shooting protesters. Feel free to check out what I have to say: http://rcordell1.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/bahrain-too-soon/

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