Amid unanimous opposition the Bahrain GP has returned
The Bahrain Grand Prix has been reinstated on the 2011 Formula 1 calendar, after a decision made today by the World Motor Sport Council.
The Grand Prix will take place on the 28th – 30th October, when the Indian GP was supposed to take place. No statement has been made on this yet, but it is believed it will be moved back to December, a move that teams are strongly opposed to.
The following statement has been issued by the Bahrain International Circuit:
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
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
“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.
After a meeting of the teams in Monaco, team principals agreed their unanimous opposition to the reinstallation of the Grand Prix. After a government crackdown on protestors in the past few weeks, nearly the entire paddock is against returning to the troubled state.
However, according to the Guardian, the teams have no choice in the matter if they are instructed to race:
The Formula 1 teams are united in their opposition to the reinstatement of the Bahrain
Grand Prix but concede that they would be legally obliged to attend should the World
Motor Sport Council give the race the green light."
The teams have made their opposition clear to Bernie Ecclestone. Several human rights groups have also written to the FIA asking them to remove the race from the calendar.
While I don’t want to get political about this, I feel that this is completely the wrong call. On the same day that the race was reinstated, thousands of Bahraini citizens are taking part in a funeral procession for an activist killed in police custody. The efforts that the Bahrain government made to get this race back were disgraceful, and Formula 1 simply cannot be a part of this.