Formula 1: Bahrain withdraws from first F1 race of season
Monday February 21st, 2011 – The Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) today announced that the Kingdom of Bahrain would withdraw from hosting this year’s F1 Grand Prix race so that the country can focus on its process of national dialogue.
Last Friday, Bahrain’s Crown Prince – HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa – initiated a new national dialogue involving all sections of Bahraini society in order to resolve the current political situation in the Kingdom. The Crown Prince informed Formula One’s Bernie Ecclestone of the BIC’s decision by telephone earlier today.
HRH Prince Salman said:
“At the present time the country’s entire attention is focused on building a new national dialogue for Bahrain.
“Although Bernie Ecclestone had graciously made clear that a decision on the race was entirely Bahrain’s to make and was not yet required, we felt it was important for the country to focus on immediate issues of national interest and leave the hosting of Bahrain’s Formula 1 race to a later date.
“I would like to extend my personal gratitude to Bernie Ecclestone for his support and understanding.
“After the events of the past week, our nation’s priority is on overcoming tragedy, healing divisions and rediscovering the fabric that draws this country together; reminding the world of the very best that Bahrain is capable of as a nation once again united.
Chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit, Zayed R. Alzayani said:
“Bahrain’s Grand Prix is a time of celebration and hosting the race is a source of great pride for Bahrain and Bahrainis. It is a showcase to the world and we look forward to welcoming the teams and drivers and everyone involved in Formula One back to Bahrain in the very near future.
“I hope that F1 and our friends around the world will understand our decision at this difficult time.”
Following the Crown Prince’s decision, Bernie Ecclestone commented:
“It is sad that Bahrain has had to withdraw from the race, we wish the whole nation well as they begin to heal their country.
“The hospitality and warmth of the people of Bahrain is a hallmark of the race there, as anyone who has been at a Bahrain Grand Prix will testify. We look forward to being back in Bahrain soon.”
No decision has been made on a new date for the rescheduling of the race, which was due to take place from March 11th to 13th.
Adam Parr, Chairman of Williams F1 said, “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. 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.” The team will now undertake the final winter test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya between 8 and 11 March 2011.