Bahrain Grand Prix reinstated on 2011 F1 calendar

2011 Bahrain Grand Prix

Start, Bahrain Grand Prix, 2010

Start, Bahrain Grand Prix, 2010

The FIA World Motor Sport Council has reinstated the Bahrain Grand Prix to the 2011 F1 calendar.

The race will be held on the weekend of the 28-30th October when the Indian Grand Prix was originally slated to take place.

That race is now expected to take place at the end of the season, though it remains to be seen exactly when.

The earliest date it could occupy is December 2nd-4th, one week after the Brazilian Grand Prix. However, F1 teams have expressed reservations about extending the season.

According to an FIA statement:

Following a fact-finding mission undertaken at the request of FIA President Jean Todt, FIA Vice President Carlos Gracia visited Bahrain on 31 May 2011 to assess the situation in the country.

Meetings were conducted with the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Bahrain Motor Federation and Bahrain International Circuit, as well as other national and international organisations including Mr. Tariq Al Saffar at the National Institute of Human Rights. It should be noted that the recent announcement by the King of Bahrain has established a political dialogue and reconciliation process.

After considering all the factors and taking into consideration all stakeholders? concerns, the WMSC unanimously agreed to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix in the 2011 FIA Formula One World Championship.

This decision reflects the spirit of reconciliation in Bahrain, which is evident from the strong support the race receives from the Government and all major parties in Bahrain, including the largest opposition group, all of whom endorse the Formula One Grand Prix and motor sport in the country.

The WMSC feels that reinstating the Grand Prix is a means of helping to unite people as the country looks to move forward, and also recognises the commitment made by the Formula One teams, their employees and families, and personnel associated with the Championship including the local team of volunteers who are so vital to the event.

The Bahrain Grand Prix will take place on 30 October, replacing the Indian Grand Prix, which will now become the final round of the 2011 Championship, combined with the FIA Annual General Assembly and Prize-Giving Gala.

The race organisers issued the following statement:

The head of the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) today welcomed the decision of the FIA (Federation Internationale de L?Automobile) World Motor Sport Council to reintroduce the Bahrain Grand Prix to the 2011 calendar.

The decision, announced by the FIA after the Council?s meeting in Barcelona, follows a FIA delegation visit to Bahrain to assess the situation in country this week.

Zayed R. Alzayani, Chairman of the BIC, said: “This is welcome news for all of Bahrain. As a country we have faced a difficult time, but stability has returned; with businesses operating close to normal, the State of National Safety lifted and countries removing travel restrictions.

“Collectively, we are in the process of addressing issues of national and international concern, and learning lessons from the recent past. By the time the Grand Prix arrives we will be able to remind the world about Bahrain at its best.

“The Bahrain Grand Prix has always been a source of national pride and it is an event than transcends politics. Not only does it receive strong support from the Government, but also from all major parties in Bahrain, including our largest opposition group, Al Wefaq, who yesterday endorsed both the BIC and motor racing in Bahrain.

“Importantly, it will also offer a significant boost to the economy. The Grand Prix attracts 100,000 visitors, supports 3,000 jobs and generates around $500m of economic benefit. Its positive effect will be felt throughout the country.

“On behalf of Bahrain, I would like to thank Bernie Ecclestone, Jean Todt and the FIA and the rest of the motorsport community for the support and understanding they have extended to us this year.”

Bahrain is a pioneer of motorsport in the region and the rescheduled Grand Prix will be the 8th hosted by the Kingdom since its inaugural race in 2004.

The confirmation the race will take place restores the calendar to its original 20-race length, the largest it has ever been.

Update: A muted reaction from Red Bull to the news:

“Red Bull Racing has acknowledged the FIA World Motor Sport Council?s decision to go ahead with the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix.

“We will go through the correct channels and discuss this decision within the appropriate forum with the other F1 teams and our fellow FOTA members.”

2011 Bahrain Grand Prix

Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images

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472 comments on Bahrain Grand Prix reinstated on 2011 F1 calendar

  1. Lachie (@lachie) said on 3rd June 2011, 14:43

    I don’t agree with this but this whole time I have been thinking of a dilemma F1 finds itself in.

    If they’d decided to not go…. what happens next year? Why is it unacceptable for them to go in October-November-December 2011 but fine in March 2012? Because I have a hard time accepting that if Bahrain had been left out for this year that people would have felt as strongly about staying away come next year if the country stayed out of the news.

    Again I don’t think they should go there while the country still has issues and I mean for this post to be more a discussion point than anything.

  2. BasCB (@bascb) said on 3rd June 2011, 14:43

    Given the Indians were supposed to be supported by some 400 Bahraini Marshals, they might not have had much of a chance to oppose postponing their event.
    What to do with those concerts planned to go along with it, not to mention the great weather varying between 2-19 degrees in the region in December. Alternatively will they now drop the Indian GP, or just push the teams not to let down India. With FI, HRT, Team Lotus all looking a lot at India it will be a hard choice to let them down.

    I put this down as money and corruption winning over sensibility. Bernie wants money, Todt needs the backing of his middle east vice president.

    An altogether despicable desicion right in line with the normal way of doing things in sports governing bodies. Like the FIFA giving the World Cup to Quater for its great football tradition. And IOC believing China will improve its human rights agenda and not be as corrupt as Salt lake city was.

    Good luck Bahrain in making sure you really do make inways towards those reforms and have a united country there come end of October. Or face a major cock up with possible protests or even attacks on the people visiting.

    • Todfod said on 3rd June 2011, 14:53

      Couldn’t agree more about money and corruption superseding common sense. I guess the Indian GP is done for this year. I really doubt the weather in December will permit a race to take place out there, and I’m pretty sure a lot of the teams will have objections as well.

      I really do not want to argue about the political aspect of the race in Bahrain. I was really looking forward to the race here in India, but Bernie had to poop on this parade as well.

    • xtophe (@xtophe) said on 3rd June 2011, 14:56

      By October, Bahrain will either have to be a merry wonderland or they’ll have the world’s press looking ever so more closely. Either that or they have to put F1 in an even more splendid isolation than it already is.

      We can however be sure of one thing now. F1 is as prone to politics as every other aspect of life. This is very reminiscent of the Olympics in Beijing as you say. There is no apolitical stance when human rights are in peril at a greater or lesser degree. Forget learning from the past, clearly the world is not as enlightened as one could hope. It’s a shame the 20th century seems to have passed in vain.

    • mvi said on 3rd June 2011, 14:57

      Totally agree with you. That smell wafting from this FIA decision certainly reminds one of FIFA.

      I look forward to seeing the upcoming discussions and reforms which have been promised by the governing royal family.

    • Mark Hitchcock said on 3rd June 2011, 15:07

      Regarding money. Surely this is going to cost Bernie, Todt etc, money rather than make them any.

      You’d think they’ll have to compensate India for moving or cancelling their Grand Prix, and the same goes for Brazil who will have paid a premium to have the season finale.

      So even without the obvious lack of morals this decision displays, it also seems to make no sense financially either.

  3. Butler258 said on 3rd June 2011, 14:43

    They had there slot in March.

    They Missed that slot in March.

    That should of been an end of it, no race for them in 2011, instead of bending over backwards to accommodate them.

  4. fordsrule (@fordsrule) said on 3rd June 2011, 14:45

    How many people do you guys expect to attend the race? I expect lower then Turkey, and thats even if they give out free tickets…

    • Lee said on 3rd June 2011, 14:50

      Or they force them to attend by use of death threats!

      • Todfod said on 3rd June 2011, 14:54

        LOL. Anyone not smiling, or having a good time at the race will be imprisoned.

      • bosyber said on 3rd June 2011, 14:55

        Well, I suppose all the people LAK mentions using the WantBahrainF1GP (or what was it) twitter hashtag could be invited. There will be enough people in Bahrain to pack the circuit, I’d think. But I do not intend on watching it on tv.

  5. Dipak T said on 3rd June 2011, 14:47

    Well well. The teams are now legally obliged to the Bahrain GP.

    So lets petition FOTA to withdraw all the regular drivers and forfiet constructors points. I do not wish this event to affect either championship, this is a disgraceful move by the WMSC and Bernie. I sincerly hope that not one person tunes into this Grand Prix either.
    Bernie and Bahrain may have got their race, lets make it an empty race watched by nobody the world over.

  6. Chris said on 3rd June 2011, 14:47

    Disgusting.

  7. Chalky (@chalky) said on 3rd June 2011, 14:49

    The teams may be obliged to go but maybe not their sponsors and we don’t have to watch it either.

    • Johny_RC (@johny_rc) said on 3rd June 2011, 14:52

      Is there any chance the drivers could do a ‘USA 2005′, and turn up, do the parade lap then pull into the pits? Does that cover them for whatever contractual obligations they have to FOM and the FIA?

      • Adrian J (@adrian-j) said on 3rd June 2011, 14:58

        Even better this year, they could not set a time with 107% in Q1 and bingo, not required to race.

      • Dipak T said on 3rd June 2011, 15:10

        Yes. They wanted a race. Lets give them what technically passes for a race.

        • Tim M said on 3rd June 2011, 17:22

          I would love this SO much! Can you imagine the crown prince, he thinks he’s getting his precious F1 race as the teams begin the parade lap only for them to peel off into the pits at the last second with zero cars taking the start! That should wipe the smile off his smug face

  8. Leon said on 3rd June 2011, 14:50

    I suppose, if we have accepted a Chinese F1 GP without a murmur of protest for the terrible suffering inflicted on anyone who dares to step out of line, by a regime which tolerates no protest whatsoever. We, the F1 world, have little clout when we show such telling inconsistency.

    For all that, this awful decision casts a very dark cloud over anything and everything Ecclestone and Todt try to say to justify their actions.

    There is now a very unpleasant stench wafting through the F1 paddock

    • There was quite a debate on China a couple of years ago, and in any case there is consistency, in that we complain about F1 going to places where its presence sparks injuries and deaths. As far as I know, nobody has been injured or killed through China having a race. It’s a very narrow morality but a morality it is (and apparently more than the FIA upper brass, Bernie or the circuit organisers can manage).

      • mantolwen (@mantolwen) said on 3rd June 2011, 22:44

        China’s a different case anyway because hosting or not hosting the GP there makes very little difference to the country. In Bahrain, it is clearly a very important event for them to host.

        • verasaki said on 4th June 2011, 14:28

          China isn’t a different case. And if they had been turned down for a GP slot or boycotted for their human rights violations it would have been a great embarrassment to them. I still don’t “accept” the race any more than I accepted South Africa. It’s deplorable that in all the countries around the world F1 can’t manage to avoid those that are the antithesis of the values sport is supposed to engender.

          It is despicable that F1- or the FIA can even consider racing in Bahrain.

  9. The Limit said on 3rd June 2011, 14:50

    From a racing perspective and as a fan who hates the ‘off season’ over the winter, I am happy. From a moral standpoint however, I feel guilty for being so selfish. As always with these decisions, money has played a deciding factor.
    I sincerly hope that the FIA have done their homework on this one because if the violence erupts again like it did three months ago they are going to look a right bunch of prize prats! Not to mention the safety of the fans and the teams being put in jeapardy.

  10. typical…hopefully noone dies, it had to be said

  11. Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 3rd June 2011, 14:52

    The only concern is safety. Seeing how the travel advice changed, it’s no surprise the race is going ahead.

    • xtophe (@xtophe) said on 3rd June 2011, 14:59

      Then again, October is a long way from now. Would a different travel advice be an argument then or now? I seriously doubt it.

      • Johny_RC (@johny_rc) said on 3rd June 2011, 15:01

        If the FCO advises against ‘all but essential travel’ then the teams would find it very difficult to get insurance, and impossible to force any team member who didn’t want to go. As you say, October is a long way away, and many things could change before then. Who knows, perhaps the FIA and FOM will listen to drivers, the fans and the teams objections and change their minds…oh and pigs might fly.

      • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 3rd June 2011, 16:03

        What other measure do you have?

        At the very least it needs to be safe now in order to go ahead with the planning.

  12. On the upside, they won’t be able to keep the foreign media out or suppressed will they?

  13. driftin said on 3rd June 2011, 14:56

    This is embarrassing and disgraceful. Sorry, but that country needs a lot more than racing cars to help it right now.

  14. Robert said on 3rd June 2011, 15:00

    What about the people who have paid for air tickets to India, there will be no refunds on them and I cannot see FOM paying!!

  15. bosyber said on 3rd June 2011, 15:00

    Well, that’s disappointing, as realistically had to be expected.

    Maybe some sponsors would want to not be on the cars (in a way, Red Bull itself, “fun” image isn’t really helped by this much), I could see Chaves get Williams to remove his sponsorship to make a point (yes, high ground and all :) but I suppose this is how the world really works, and how F1 has been working for a long time.

    Still sad they didn’t decide otherwise though. Make roads safe – give tanks way of passage, and don’t protest.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 3rd June 2011, 15:59

      How horribly appropriate COTD material

      Make roads safe – give tanks way of passage, and don’t protest.

      • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 3rd June 2011, 16:08

        The brutally opressed “protests” in Paris were no reason to stop the race in Magny Cours. Or were they?

        The protests were about the same thing, discrimination against a ethnic/religious minority, police brutality, poor housing, poor wages etc etc. “protesters” got killed when storming the police there too.

        Of course safty is a different matter here, but when the travel advice is that it’s safe to travel …

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