The season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix will not take place, according to the race organisers.
The Crown Prince of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa said: “We felt it was important for the country to focus on immediate issues of national interest.
“Bahrain’s priority is on overcoming tragedy, healing divisions and rediscovering the fabric that draws this country together to remind the world of the very best that Bahrain is capable of as a nation once again united.”
Bernie Ecclestone said: “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.
“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.”
With the Bahrain Grand Prix not happening the Australian Grand Prix on 25th-27th March will be the first race of the season.
It remains to be seen whether the race will be postponed until a later date or cancelled entirely.
Williams chairman Adam Parr said: “It is obviously disappointing for everyone involved in the organisation of the event, but it is clear that to race in Bahrain at this time would be inappropriate given the current circumstances.
“It is always Williams’ intention to contribute positively to the countries we compete in and so we fully support the Crown Prince’s decision to cancel the test and forthcoming Bahrain Grand Prix.
“We now look forward to a season debut in Melbourne and returning to Bahrain when it is right to do so.”
Renault team principal Eric Boullier added: “The recent situation in Bahrain has been very difficult for the country. We feel the decision taken by the Crown Prince is wise and we fully support it.
“The Bahrain Grand Prix has always been welcomed with enthusiasm from the Bahraini people, and we’re looking forward to going back there when they have healed their country. We will now amend our logistics accordingly and will get ready for Australia.”
The chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit Zayed Alzayani said he hopes F1 can return to the circuit soon:
“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.
“I hope that F1 and our friends around the world will understand our decision at this difficult time.”
The FIA also issued a statement on the race which it referred as being “postponed”:
“The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile supports the decision of the Bahrain Motor Federation and the Bahrain International Circuit to postpone the scheduled first Grand Prix of the 2011 season due to be held in the Kingdom of Bahrain on March 11-13.
“This decision is the outcome of the close co-operation between the FIA, Formula One Management, the Bahrain Motor Federation and the Bahrain International Circuit.”