National unrest in Bahrain has led to the cancellation of the 2011 Formula 1 opening race. Find out how this affects the F1 season inside.
Large scale anti-government protesting in Bahrain has led to the cancelation of the first Formula 1 race of the 2011 season. The decision was made by Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the rights owner of the race, according to the Associated Press.
It is unclear if the race date will be rescheduled later in the year. Bahrain has been a stop on the F1 tour for the past seven years.
The final pre-race group test was also slated for the Bahrain International Circuit. It will now be held in Barcelona from March 8-11, according to Reuters.
Prince Salman telephoned F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone to inform him of the decision. Protesting in the Middle Eastern country began in mid-February following pro-democracy protests in Egypt and Tunisia.
"We felt it was important for the country to focus on immediate issues of national interest and leave the hosting of Bahrain's Formula One race to a later date," Prince Salman said in a statement. "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."
"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," Ecclestone reportedly told the AP. "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."
The next race on the Formula 1 calendar is the Australian GP, set for March 27 at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit.