The opening round of the 2011 Formula 1 Grand Prix season, to be held in Bahrain, has been cancelled due to heightened concerns about the civil unrest in the country. This cancellation was confirmed by Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifah who has a personal interest in the event.
In his announcement, he explained that ‘immediate issues of national interest’ were of a greater priority. He added that the event could be postponed to a later date.
The FIA has agreed to the postponement and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, while disappointed with the decision, has expressed his understanding of the situation. The teams were also relieved as there was a lot of concern about safety in the country and are glad to receive a clear decision so they can alter their plans (final testing was to have taken place in Bahrain on March 3 and the race was to have been run on March 13).
The first round of the season will therefore be on March 27 at Albert Park in Melbourne Australia, followed by the Malaysian round on April 10. 19 rounds are scheduled for this year and Ecclestone is hopeful that the Bahrain round will eventually be run.
Although some have proposed that the cancellation notice be retracted on the grounds that it was extremely short noticed there are a few who sees the idea of restoring the cancellation as being problematic.
The VP of Mercedes motorsport Norbert Haug has claimed that the proposal to restore the cancelled Bahrain Grand Prix to the 2011 F1 schedule is going to be near impossible for logistical reasons.
The German, speaking as the debate of rescheduling the race rumbled on, pointed to the already packed calendar – which was due to the biggest ever compiled for F1 – as the biggest stumbling block for restoring the season-opener, with few gaps that presented viable opportunities for adding a race. The three-week break during August is understood to be off limits, with teams shutting their factories down and giving staff a well-earned rest, leaving just the weekends between existing dates as the only real option.
Red Bull arch rival Christian Horner concurred that locating the right slot would be difficult, but appeared more hopeful that, should the Bahraini authorities request a return, the race could be found a temporary home.