Bernie Ecclestone admits Bahrain GP could be cancelled

Decision will be made next week as to whether season-opening race will go ahead in wake of political unrest

By Gareth Llewellyn
bernie ecclestone
Bernie Ecclestone will make decision over race next week Photo: Silverstone Circuits

bernie ecclestone

The fate of Formula 1’s season-opening grand prix in Bahrain will be decided next week in the wake of unrest in the country.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has already conceded the event may have to be cancelled but hopes the trouble will subside allowing the race to go ahead as planned.

After the GP2 Asia Series event at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) was cancelled on Thursday, the decision on whether to cancel the grand prix rests with Ecclestone, FIA president Jean Todt, race organisers in Bahrain and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

“It’s not good, is it?” Ecclestone said. “We’ll have to keep our eye on things and make a decision quickly.

“I spoke to the Crown Prince this morning. He doesn’t know any more than you or I, but they’re monitoring exactly what is going on. Next week we will make a decision on what we are going to do.”

A statement on behalf of the organisers read: “The safety of all Bahraini nationals, expats and overseas visitors is a priority at all times in the Kingdom and, at the Bahrain International Circuit.”

“Our focus at the present time remains on delivering another successful event in the form of the 2011 Gulf Air Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix.

“We continue to monitor the situation very closely indeed in association with the relevant authorities.

“Our priority at this time is ensuring the wellbeing of everyone associated with this event, and we will respond appropriately to any further developments.”

Virgin Racing team principal John Booth added: “If the local government, along with FOM, and the FIA say it is safe to go, then we go.

“We will trust their judgment. They will have people on the ground assessing the situation all the time, and I’m sure they are well informed of the risks.

“The only complication is the test, with most of us out there for 16 days, so a decision will need taking by the 25th when the freight goes out, and a week after for the race.”

The BIC was also due to host the F1 teams for the final pre-season test from 3-6 March but that is now expected to be cancelled following a meeting of the Formula 1 Teams’ Association in Barcelona on Friday.

The final test is crucial to the development of the new cars, and the teams will be keen to ensure they get one final four-day run-out ahead of the season opener.

It has been suggested that other circuits, including Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina and Singapore’s Marina Bay, would be happy to accommodate the teams.

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