Bahrain GP postponed until November, or not UPDATE #6
Hopes of a revival of the Bahrain Grand Prix this year took a turn for the worse on Sunday as police and protesters again clashed on the streets of Manama, with teargas and rubber bullets being fired. The battle took place when peaceful protesters blockaded the landmark Financial Harbor. Police attacked with tear gas and rubber bullets and pushed them back towards the Pearl Roundabout, the scene of previous battles, but the result was that thousands took to the streets and the police were pushed back by the angry crowds to Financial Harbor. The economy is suffering badly at the moment with all tourism having stopped and the banking industry trying to decide whether to leave the island. There were other clashes reported further south on the island, towards the Bahrain International Circuit, where there are a number of large royal palaces. Joe Saward
|Adrian Sutil at last year's Bahrain GP|
03/03/11 Formula 1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone has ruled out a summer slot for the Bahrain GP, and is aiming to have the race at the end of the season instead. Ecclestone had suggested earlier this week that Bahrain could be rescheduled to the summer following its cancellation as the opening race of 2011. But speaking to Britain's BBC on Thursday, the F1 boss suggested the Sakhir race could be slotted in around the end of the season. He insisted he will do everything possible to not lose the race this year.
"We'll have a look and see what we can do, how we can swap things round. Maybe we can change with Brazil, something like that," he said. "I don't know how likely it is that there is going to be peace in Bahrain. But if there is, we will find a way.
"The people there have been very big supporters of us, and are becoming bigger and bigger. We have much more support in Bahrain than we did when we first started there, and if they want the race we want to supply it for them."
He added: "Forget August – it's too hot. It's too hot for the public to sit in the grandstand when it's 40 degrees [104 F]."
02/21/11 We are hearing that if the race is rescheduled it will be run on the free weekend between India and Abu Dhabi. India is 2 to 3 hours from Bahrain.
02/21/11 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Both the test and the race are cancelled. The race will be postponed at a later in the year if they can find room in the schedule.
F1's twelve teams have agreed to cancel the scheduled pre-race group test in Bahrain beginning March 3, Sky News reported on Monday.
The UK broadcaster cited unidentified sources.
It had been reported that teams intended to meet again on Monday on the final day of Barcelona testing.
"The freight needs to be shipped out for the (Bahrain) test," said Cosworth's Mark Gallagher, explaining the need for a quick decision.
02/21/11 (GMM) Organizers of the Bahrain grand prix are continuing to prepare for next month's 2011 season opener.
"We do not have the impression that the situation here is out of control," Laurent Madore, commercial director of the Sakhir circuit, is quoted by La Presse.
"We have been instructed to continue preparing for the grand prix as scheduled.
"Only in downtown Manama have there been problems," he continued. "I live just outside in an area where there are many expatriates, and we feel quite safe.
"It's the same thing at work, at the circuit," added Madore.
However, there are strong signals that the March 13 event and a pre-season test will definitely be called off.
"With the way the situation is currently, we cannot go to Bahrain," Bild newspaper quotes Timo Glock as saying emphatically.
Red Bull's Christian Horner agrees: "It is likely that the race will be cancelled."
And his driver Mark Webber said: "It's probably not the best time to go there for a sporting event. They have bigger things, bigger priorities."
Foreign departments all over the Western world are advising citizens against travelling to the island Kingdom, and Gulf News reports that a postponement of the event until later this season is a certainty.
"We have been told to step down our operations," the newspaper quoted 'an official with a German race team' as saying.
Mercedes did not comment, but multiple media sources suggest that an official announcement is now just hours away.
It is rumored that the calendar might now extend until December.
"There is the possibility of the (Bahrain) race going to the end of the calendar," Bernie Ecclestone told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
The Telegraph and the Times said the final decision about Bahrain is due by midday on Monday.
A report by the Associated Press made a clear link between the anti-government protests and F1, championed in Bahrain by the Crown Prince.
"His precious formula one is more important than the blood of his people which he spilled," one protester is quoted as saying.
Within F1, the strong feelings of prominent members of the paddock will also be weighed.
BBC anchor Jake Humphrey hinted on Twitter on Sunday that even if the race goes ahead, he will make his own decision about travelling to Bahrain.
"We (the BBC) will make a call, and I know what mine will be," he said.
A 'member of an important team' is quoted by O Estado de S.Paulo: "After the latest events, we think it makes no sense to go to Bahrain."
When asked if he is now afraid to travel to Bahrain, Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi answered: "Who isn't?"
It is believed that McLaren's drivers, due to the team being partly owned by the Bahrain government, have been banned from talking to the media about the issue.
Auto Motor und Sport told Williams' Sam Michael that the situation in Bahrain seems to have now improved somewhat.
"But it could flare up again at any time," insisted the Australian.
Alex Wurz told laola1.at that, "emotionally", it is obvious that the race should not take place.
"But you have to recognize that this is not just a sport but also a large industry and it's not so simple to just cancel."02/20/11 Unconfirmed reports emanating in the Middle East late on Sunday say the Bahrain Grand Prix will be postponed as a result of the ongoing political unrest in the state. The Gulf News quoted unnamed sources as saying some teams had already started making alternative plans and had cancelled flights.
Associated Press said the Crown Prince, who Bernie Ecclestone said would make the final call, has also come under increasing pressure to cancel the grand prix.
"The race has been the prince's dream since he was a child," a protestor told AP. "He wants to negotiate so he can fulfill this dream, and it makes me sad that his dream is more dear to him than the needs of his people. The F1 is a big festival for us, too, and I love it. But our demands are worth sacrificing the race for."
Another said: "His precious Formula One is more important than the blood of his people which he spilled. We put pressure on the Formula 1 contract, the crown prince got scared and now he wants to negotiate." 02/20/11 (Google translate Dutch to English) From 3 to March 6, the fourth F1 test session this year, in preparation for the new season, held at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain. F1Today.nl can officially announce that the test session won't take place.
Sources in the paddock notify the editors of F1Today.nl: "Last night we of Foreign Affairs received a travel warning. See for yourself on the television pictures, what you see there also says enough. Nobody wants to go to Bahrain and the teams find it far too dangerous. "
"An alternative 4th test location later today or tomorrow will be known. It would be good if it were here in Barcelona. The Paul Ricard circuit (southern France) is also available"
The Grand Prix of Bahrain will also almost certainly not happen, reports our source: "90% certain the Grand Prix will not happen said another source. There are too many risks involved, team personnel will not and cannot feel threatened. There will be an additional test session in Spain, probably in Valencia." F1today.nl