The government of Bahrain, in the midst political unrest resulting in several deaths and many injuries to protestors, has canceled the March 13 season-opening Formula One race.
Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa said in a statement that it’s “important for the country to focus on immediate issues of national interest.”
Pro-democracy activists’ uprisings that have resulted in the ouster of leaders in Tunisia and Egypt have spread to Bahrain, Libya and Algeria.
“It is obviously disappointing for everyone involved in the organization of the event, but it is clear that to race in Bahrain at this time would be inappropriate given the current circumstances,” Adam Parr, chairman of the Williams F-1 team, said in a media release. “We fully support the Crown Prince’s decision to cancel the test and forthcoming Bahrain Grand Prix.”
Formula One teams agreed to switch a four-day practice scheduled to start in Bahrain on March 3 to Barcelona five days later.
“I would like to extend my personal gratitude to Bernie Ecclestone for his support and understanding,” the Crown Prince said.
Bahrain has hosted Formula One since 2004 at a purposely built $150 million racetrack in the desert south of Manama.
No decision has been made on rescheduling this year’s race. The opening event will now be the Australian Grand Prix on March 27 in Melbourne.
Here is the 2011 Formula One schedule:
QANTAS AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX (Melbourne) March 25-27
PETRONAS MALAYSIA GRAND PRIX (Kuala Lumpur) April 8-10
UBS CHINESE GRAND PRIX (Shanghai) April 15-17
TURKISH GRAND PRIX (Istanbul) May 6-8
GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA 2011 (Catalunya) May 20-22
GRAND PRIX DE MONACO 2011 (Monte Carlo) May 26-29
GRAND PRIX DU CANADA 2011 (Montreal) June 10-12
GRAND PRIX OF EUROPE (Valencia) June 24-26
SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX (Silverstone) July 8-10
GROSSER PREIS SANTANDER VON DEUTSCHLAND (Nürburgring) July 22-24
ENI MAGYAR NAGYDÍJ 2011 (Budapest) July 29-31
BELGIAN GRAND PRIX (Spa-Francorchamps) August 26-28
PREMIO SANTANDER D’ITALIA 2011 (Monza) September 9-11
SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX (Singapore) September 23-25
JAPANESE GRAND PRIX (Suzuka) October 7-9
KOREAN GRAND PRIX (Yeongam) October 14-16
GRAND PRIX OF INDIA (New Delhi) October 28-30
ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX (Yas Marina Circuit) November 11-13
GRANDE PRÊMIO DO BRASIL 2011 (Sao Paulo) November November 25-27