2011 Bahrain Grand Prix
|Date||Planned for 13 March 2011|
|Official name||2011 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix|
|Location||Bahrain International Circuit,
|Course||Permanent racing facility|
|Course length||5.412 km (3.37 mi)|
|Distance||57 laps, 308.238 km (191.530 mi)|
|Wikinews has related news: Bahrain Grand Prix cancelled amid political turmoil|
The 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix (formally the 2011 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix) was scheduled to be the opening round of the 2011 Formula One season. Planned to be held on 13 March 2011 at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, it was postponed on 21 February 2011 due to the Bahraini uprising. On 3 June, it was announced that the race would be held on 30 October, thus making it round 17 of the 20 to be held during 2011. Following controversy over the reinstatement of the race, organisers of the Grand Prix abandoned their bid to host a race in 2011.
On 14 February 2011, civil unrest broke out in Bahrain as part of a series of protests across North Africa and the Middle East. As a result of the unrest, medical staff due to attend the practice session in the Bahrain GP2 Asia Series race were redeployed to hospitals in Manama, forcing the cancellation of the Thursday practice session. Later that day, it was announced that the whole weekend would be cancelled at the request of the local motoring federation.
Chief executive of the Bahrain International Circuit Prince Salman ibn Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa, who is also the crown prince of Bahrain stated that everything possible would be done to ensure that the race went ahead. Bernie Ecclestone, CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Administration, stated that he hoped that talks with Al Khalifa would ease his fears that the event might be cancelled. Vice President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab said that it would be hard to bring a quick end to the protests. Ecclestone stated that a decision on the race would be made by 23 February, saying that if the situation had not calmed down by then, the event would probably be cancelled. However, protesters were quoted stating that "the only reason" the Crown Prince was willing to talk with the protestors was for the sake of holding the race.
On 21 February 2011, it was announced that the race had been postponed due to the ongoing protests and the championships rescheduled to begin in Australia. The organisers were later given until 1 May to decide whether they want to proceed with the race at a later date. The Bahrain race officials released a statement one day later that they were hopeful of rescheduling the Grand Prix.
Provisional reinstatement and cancellation
On 2 May 2011, Bernie Ecclestone extended the deadline to 3 June. Autosport later reported that the FIA was exploring the possibility of moving the Indian Grand Prix to the final race of the season with a provisional date of 4 December, and holding the Bahrain Grand Prix on the Indian Grand Prix's original date of 30 October.
At a meeting of the World Motorsports Council on 3 June, FIA members unanimously voted to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix to the calendar on the planned date of 30 October. The decision was controversial, with Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn stating that a December finale was unacceptable, while human rights interest groups and activists criticised the FIA for the reinstatement in light of the ongoing political upheaval in the country. Red Bull Racing driver Mark Webber expressed also his concerns over the human rights conditions and stated that he would have hoped for the sport to have taken a firmer stance on the affair. Several other drivers expressed a willingness to race on the condition that their safety could be guaranteed amid reports that widespread protests were being planned for the day of the race. In response to this, FIA president Jean Todt promised that the sport's governing body would monitor the situation in Bahrain carefully, leaving open the possibility of a cancellation should the country deteriorate ahead of the race, while commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone called for a second vote to take place, restoring the Indian Grand Prix to its original October date and moving the Bahrain Grand Prix back to the season finale in December. According to former FIA president Max Mosley, the rescheduling of the race would require the unanimous agreement of the teams. It had been reported that the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) was opposed to rescheduling the race to 30 October on logistical grounds, but were willing to discuss an end-of-season berth for the race instead. On 8 June, Bernie Ecclestone stated that he felt the race would not go ahead because the FIA had overlooked Rule 66 of the Sporting Code, which states that "no amendments can be made to the arrangements for a championship after entries open without the agreement of all competitors." The FIA later asked Ecclestone to submit a new calendar proposal after they were informed by FOTA that holding the Bahrain Grand Prix on 30 October was "impractical".
One week after the WMSC voted to return the race to the calendar, organisers for the Bahrain Grand Prix officially abandoned their bid to return to the calendar.
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2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
|FIA Formula One World Championship
2011 Australian Grand Prix
2010 Bahrain Grand Prix
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2012 Bahrain Grand Prix