Bahrain tries to buy time with statement

The Bahraini government has played its latest card in its attempt to host a GP in 2011 by releasing a statement a day before the May 1 deadline set by the FIA.

Clearly produced with the full support of Bernie Ecclestone, the statement – “regarding the rescheduling of the 2011 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix” – says nothing concrete but clearly suggests that the Bahrainis still have hopes of hosting a race this year, despite a widespread belief in F1 circles that it shouldn’t happen in 2011.

It’s not clear what the FIA’s position is on ignoring the May 1 deadline it set, although Jean Todt is very close to the authorities in the country and is clearly in the loop.

In the statement Bahrain International Circuit Chairman Zayed Rashid Alzayani said: “We gratefully acknowledge the understanding of Formula One Management and the FIA in what have been difficult times. We also thank the continued support of the international motorsport community and Formula one fans around the world.

“Clearly our national priority is to find a resolution to the difficulties that the kingdom of Bahrain has experienced. The national situation has moved on in a positive manner, the situation is evolving all the time; our day-to-day life is gradually improving under the current State of National Safety.

“Bahrain’s Grand Prix is a time of celebration and hosting the race is a source of great pride for Bahrain and Bahrainis.  It is a showcase to the world and we look forward to welcoming the teams and drivers and everyone involved in Formula One back to Bahrain in the very near future.”

Meanwhile Ecclestone added: “Bahrain’s commitment to Formula one has been clear from the very outset. While obviously the kingdom has had to put its national affairs first I have never been in any doubts that restoring the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix has been of paramount importance. In eight years with my relationship with Bahrain I have always been confident that they will produce something special.”

8 Comments

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8 responses to “Bahrain tries to buy time with statement

  1. Mick

    “We also thank the continued support of the international motorsport community and Formula one fans around the world.”

    I think they have rose tinted glasses on if they believe they have the support of the majority.

  2. melonfarmer

    The question of whether F1 should return to Bahrain is an ethical nightmare. The most superficial level is a decision of whether team personnel and visitors will have their safety guaranteed.

    The notion that sport and politics should be kept separate is convenient for Bernie, but hopelessly naive (never thought I’d accuse BC E of that) – look at the Moscow Olympics and Edinburgh Commonwealth Games that various teams boycotted.

    On a personal level, I wouldn’t be happy that democracy demonstrators are being detained and beaten (or sentanced to death following a closed trial) while watching cars going round in circles at a vanity project racetrack – it all seems a bit pointless in comparison. However, no one seemed too concerned about human rights at the recent Chinese GP, for example. Just because the BBC news has moved onto the Royal Wedding doesn’t mean that the situation has improved (in Tunisia, Eygpt and Japan either).

    How about running the Bahrain GP at Istanbul Park from 2012? Heck it worked for Luxembourg and the Nurburgring…

  3. Richard Felton

    I am very sorry, but as a member of the international motorsport community (America here), Bahrain does not have my support. You’re in the same boat as Lybia and Yemen, sorry.

  4. Seb

    This is crazy. Formula 1 and the FIA in particular can not afford to be drawn into the Bahraini Government’s propaganda. A quick glance at Amnesty International’s home page tells you all there is to know about the current situation. Scanning a number of prominent international news associations, the claim that “The national situation has moved on in a positive manner”, and that “our day-to-day life is gradually improving under the current State of National Safety” is nothing but a lie. The FIA must not allow itself to facilitate this shameful process, be it by extending the deadline or establishing a provisional date for a rescheduling of the Grand Prix!

  5. Stone the crows

    The only position that the FiA and FOM have been taking on Bahrain is to not take a position and wait until someone else makes a decision for them, or at least makes it impossible for them to not act. Thus far the reason for cancelling the Baharain GP was left up to the locals with which Ecclestone and Todt readily agreed. I suspect the same will happen again. I imagine Jean Todt is working behind the scenes quietly as usual, though I wonder if any clear and ethical stand will be taken. We fans would welcome that, but I doubt if the FiA or FOM want to go down that path, for it would mean more than one venue must be taken into consideration.

  6. Jake

    I may be an old cynic, but I expect money to win out in the end. Make that: I am an old cynic.

  7. Brian

    Could we please get past the notion that Formula One is “sport” in the same sense that track & field or gymnastics is sport? Formula One is a *business* first and foremost. A wonderful competition? Yes. A sport? No. Even if you twist the definition to include F1, it’s certainly not a “sport” that operates in the sphere of “politics and sport shouldn’t mix.” Bernie’s very existance and methodologies preclude that idea from the outset.

    The FIA, the teams, the sponsors, and even (gasp) green-colored-glasses Bernie, need to think long and hard about how they want the world to percieve Formula One. Putting on an annual multi-multi-million dollar/pound/euro extravaganza for a dictator’s delight just might not be the best idea in the long run.

  8. Seb

    Brian,
    I believe it is a ‘business within a sport’, not a ‘sport within a business’.

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