Bahrain drops plans to stage Grand Prix
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The organisers of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix have dropped plans to reschedule this year's event, which was postponed in February due to the unrest sweeping the country.
AFP - The organizers of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix said Thursday they had abandoned plans to hold a 2011 race after controversy on rescheduling the event postponed by turmoil in the Gulf nation.
"Whilst Bahrain would have been delighted to see the Grand Prix progress on October 30th in-line with the World Motor Sport Council's decision, it has been made clear that this fixture cannot progress and we fully respect that decision," Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed R Alzayani said in a statement.
"Bahrain has absolutely no desire to see a race which would further extend the calendar season detract from the enjoyment of F1 for either drivers, teams or supporters," he said.
Earlier this month Bahrain lifted a state of emergency it imposed in mid-March when it crushed month-long protests with the help of military intervention by its Gulf neighbors in a crackdown which left 30 dead.
But debate over the suitability of giving Bahrain a revised date on the Formula One calendar had heated up this week, with teams citing not the political turmoil but the logistical difficulties of changing the schedule so late in the season.
Bahrain had been originally scheduled to host the season-opening race on March 13, but on February 21 it was postponed.
On June 3 it was reinstated with a provisional date of October 30.
That plan, however, called for the Grand Prix scheduled in India on October 30, at a new $350 million 5.14-kilometre (3.2-mile) circuit on the outskirts of New Delhi, to be pushed back to December.
This week objections from various parties involved in the sport had been mounting.
The Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) wrote to the International Motoring Federation (FIA) and to F1's commercial ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone stating that it did not want the calendar changed at such late notice.
The chief executive of the Williams team, Adam Parr, said: "It's not about whether the (Bahrain) race goes ahead, it's about whether we change the calendar at this stage of the season -- and that's what we've written.
"The issue that we're concerned about is that fans, sponsors, teams, have made logistic arrangements to be in India for a particular weekend, 30 October, and we've been presented with a calendar where it's on 11 December.
"How do you say to people who have booked a two-week holiday in India to take in the Grand Prix, 'sorry you'll be in India, but we won't'?"
In a reply to FOTA's letter, FIA president Jean Todt of France said he had asked Ecclestone, the series' commercial rights holder to "re-examine his calendar proposal and, if necessary, to resubmit a revised proposal to the World Council."
While the FIA had been expected to make a final announcement confirming cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend during the Canadian Grand Prix, Alzayani's announcement effectively settled the issue.
"We want our role in Formula One to continue to be as positive and constructive as it has always been, therefore, in the best interest of the sport, we will not pursue the rescheduling of a race this season," he said in the statement.
"We look forward to welcoming teams, their drivers and supporters back to Bahrain next year," the statement added.