Bahrain Grand Prix cancelled: F1 teams react to the news
Following the decision to axe the Bahrain GP, The Sport Review rounds up the teams' reaction to the news
Formula 1’s 2011 season opener at the Bahrain International Circuit was postponed due to civil unrest on Monday.
With the season now set to begin in Melbourne on 27 March, The Sport Review rounds up the teams’ reaction to the delayed start to the new campaign.
Williams chairman Adam Parr was one of the first to release a statement after the decision was made on Monday.
“It is obviously disappointing for everyone involved in the organisation of the event, but it is clear that to race in Bahrain at this time would be inappropriate given the current circumstances,” he said.
“It is always Williams’ intention to contribute positively to the countries we compete in and so we fully support the Crown Prince’s decision to cancel the test and forthcoming Bahrain Grand Prix. We now look forward to a season debut in Melbourne and returning to Bahrain when it is right to do so.”
Sauber owner and team principal Peter Sauber, also issued a statement in the hours after the decision: “We are convinced that the authorities in Bahrain have made the right decision in calling off the race. It is the only possible decision that does justice to the situation and the people in this country. We wish Bahrain a good and peaceful future and hope that Formula One will return there before long.”
Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher told his official website: “Like so many of my Formula One colleagues, I also think the cancellation of the Bahrain event was a good decision. The people there right now have more important issues than Formula One, and those of course have priority.”
And Felipe Massa agreed with his former Ferrari team-mate: “I think this is the right decision because the situation there is very serious. If there is just the slightest risk, it is better not to go, but the most important thing is that the situation in Bahrain calms down to what it was before and that everything is peaceful again.
“You can have a grand prix for the fans to bring them a bit of light relief, but I don’t think this is the right moment for the people of Bahrain to host a Formula One race.
“It’s a shame we cannot start the championship there, because I have always felt really good in this country: the people are very welcoming and pleasant and apart from that, I have always gone very well at the Sakhir circuit. Let’s hope we can go back there soon.”
F1’s governing body, the FIA finally released its own somewhat meaningless statement after the decision had been made by the Crown Prince.
“The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) supports the decision of the Bahrain Motor Federation and the Bahrain International Circuit to postpone the scheduled first Grand Prix of the 2011 season due to be held in the Kingdom of Bahrain on March 11-13,” said the FIA in a statement.
“This decision is the outcome of the close co-operation between the FIA, Formula One Management, the Bahrain Motor Federation and the Bahrain International Circuit.
“The FIA is Formula 1’s governing body and is responsible for the international calendar as well as all matters of safety relating to the stakeholders involved in Grand Prix racing.”
On Tuesday, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh finally commented on the situation after remaining quiet as the problems built up because of the major share in the team from the Bahrain government’s Mumtalakat company.
“The cancellation of any grand prix is always a disappointment for all concerned-but, bearing in mind the situation in the Middle East at present, we fully support the Crown Prince’s decision,” said Whitmarsh.
Virgin Racing boss John Booth also expressed his sadness that of events that had unfolded, and that it “is quite clear that there are far bigger matters at stake than whether a major sporting event can take place.”
Red Bull driver Mark Webber had been one of the first drivers to speak out before the race was cancelled, and was quickly joined by team-mate Sebastian Vettel in calling for the race to be scrapped.
The final pre-season test has also been cancelled and replaced by a further test in Barcelona, either from 8-11 March as first announced, or 10-13 March, when the Bahrain GP should have taken place.
It is unclear whether the Bahrain GP will return to the calendar towards the end of the year or left out until 2012.