Bahrain drops bid to host race in 2011

2011 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Bahrain International Circuit, 2004

The organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix have said they “will not pursue the rescheduling of a race this season”.

Circuit chairman Zayed Alzayani said: “Whilst Bahrain would have been delighted to see the Grand Prix progress on October 30th in-line with the World Motor Sport Council’s decision, it has been made clear that this fixture cannot progress and we fully respect that decision.

"Bahrain has always sought to play a positive role in the continued development of Formula One, from pioneering F1 racing in the Middle East, to helping other countries in facilitating their own races in new territories, as well as providing our own unique experience and universal welcome to Grand Prix supporters.

“Bahrain has absolutely no desire to see a race which would further extends the calendar season detract from the enjoyment of F1 for either drivers, teams or supporters. We want our role in Formula One to continue to be as positive and constructive as it has always been, therefore, in the best interest of the sport, we will not pursue the rescheduling of a race this season.

"We look forward to welcoming teams, their drivers and supporters back to Bahrain next year and would like to extend our deepest gratitude to our supporters, including staff, volunteers, sponsors, private businesses and the general public, for whom I know this year’s decision will be a disappointment. We would also especially like to thank the FIA, FOM, The Bahrain Motor Federation (BMF) and the teams for all support and understanding they have extended to us at this time”.

On Thursday the FIA asked Bernie Ecclestone to submit a revised calendar following the team’s objections to the reinstatement of the Bahrain race.

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    57 comments on “Bahrain drops bid to host race in 2011”

    1. I don’t think this is a situation that calls for celebration, but solemn reflection instead.

      1. The positive though is that the race will not be a target for protestors, and that the country can focus on reform without the race as a distraction.

          1. I’m glad to see you agreeing, LAK. I hope you get to see the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix. ;)

        1. Exactly Peter.

          I wish Bahrain all the wisdom, good fortune and inspiring ideas, as well as the courage to face uncomfortable truths and let go of strict and oppresive measures, and to move on and forward.

          1. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, you took the words out of my mouth (well, with a few hours to spare).

        2. True, the race really was their biggest problem. How could they reform with a race going on. It’s just impossible.

        3. Ah those protestors… such a nuisance. All the Al kalifas want is having their property in order, the obedience of their Shia servants and their race. Is it too much to ask? But no, those protestors had to spoil everything. Now, without the distraction of the race, they can focus on showing those protestors a reform or two, ahn?

      2. Let’s hope the Bahraini royal family takes time for some solemn reflection and starts implementing the long-promised reforms and starts to treat all its citizens with dignity and respect.

        1. Hear, hear.

        2. Well said.

        3. I’d rather hope that when the reforms happen, the people put in power are not pro-terrorism or pro-iran.

          There is no point having reforms when the end result is worse then the beginning. We all saw what happened to Zimbabwe.

          1. ‘The people put in power’ have been the dictators backed and maintained by the west. Who the people put in power is something else entirely: real democracy. And who their elected governments back is entirely their business. Some genuine commitment to democracy in the region from the west is what’s needed – and precisely what Ecclestone and FIA have been shown up as lacking.

            1. Since when were Ecclestone and the FIA supposed to BE a democracy?

            2. ? Think you lost the plot there.

        4. I hope so too! (They’ve always treated us with utmost respect, I know you’re thinking what about those arrested, well they committed crimes, and just fyi the Bahraini Royal Family are very fair and never differentiated their citizens based on their sects. In fact, on of the ongoing complaints of the Sunnis is that they are being ignored and the Shia are getting all the attention. The Shias have more jobs, get more scholarships, etc.. so the Sunnis have always felt undermined and now they feel enraged after what has happened) Just thought of explaining my point cuz I know I’d get attacked if I don’t :p

          1. @LAK: Sorry, but just when I thought there was a chance we could all move on, you post an inflamatory ‘Sunni vs Shia’ claim, opening up the whole can of worms again. I think statements like yours go to the heart of the issue and, clearly, there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark Bahrain.

            the Bahraini Royal Family are very fair and never differentiated their citizens based on their sects. In fact, on of the ongoing complaints of the Sunnis is that they are being ignored and the Shia are getting all the attention. The Shias have more jobs, get more scholarships, etc..

            Quite frankly, your claims are incorrect and without foundation.

            The reality is that the original peaceful protests were initially aimed at achieving greater political freedom and equality for the majority Shia population.

            Shiites are not allowed to hold key government posts or serve in the police or military. In fact, the security forces are staffed by Sunnis from Syria, Pakistan, and Baluchistan who also get fast-tracked to Bahraini citizenship, much to the displeasure of the indigenous Shiite population.
            In spite that the Shiites are a majority exceeding 70%, they occupy less than 18% of total top jobs in government establishments. In several government ministries and corporations no Shiite is appointed in leading jobs.
            In past elections, the Shia-dominated northern governorate of more than 91,000 voters elected nine members of parliament. In the Sunni-dominated southern governorate only 16,000 voters elected six members.
            In the Elected council Shia can no win more than 12 out of 40 seats (30%).

            The list goes on and on.

            Or read what the Financial Times wrote in an editorial on 17 February:

            Bahrain’s Shia majority has legitimate grievances. Whether it is government jobs or housing, land or basic infrastructure, it gets the leavings, while the regime imports Baluch tribesmen or Syrian policemen to man the security services, adding insult to injury by fast-tracking them to citizenship in a cynical attempt to tip the demographic balance towards Sunnis.

            King Hamad … appoints the cabinet (11 of 23 ministers are from the ruling family); gerrymandering means the Shia opposition can elect only 18 of 40 MPs; and anything the appointed upper house does not overturn the king can veto. His uncle, Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, has been prime minister since independence in 1971. Power-sharing this is not.

            Furthermore, there is not a shred of evidence to suggest Iran is behind the unrest. Tehran turns up its loudspeakers when Bahrainis take to the streets. But this situation is domestic. It should also be solvable – even now.

            A fairer share of the national pie and government for the Shia, and a beefed-up parliament able to dismiss prime minister and cabinet, would secure the rule of the al-Khalifas, until now not under real challenge. To do that, the ruling family and its patrons in Saudi Arabia will need to overcome their contempt for the Shia, which long predates their paranoia about Iran.

            To continue to ignore the truth implies you have not learnt anything from the recent events or event begun to appreciate why they started. If views like those you espouse here continue to prevail into 2012, then – heaven forbid – you might well be looking at a deserted track again on 11 March.

          2. I think Russels post has a lot of truths in it LAK.

            For Bahrain to move on, it is inevitable you all face these uncomfortable facts and find a way to move on, possibly in small steps, but steadily.

            Releasing all bloggers and human rights protagonists, dropping staged cases against those the regime feels uncomfortable with and a real effort to investigate and punish those that committed the crimes independantly and without prejudice should be amonst the first steps taken (IMO)

        5. Absolutely. Let’s draw a line under this now and allow the Bahrani government to take on board what’s happened so that the 2012 race scheduled for March can take place in a genuinely settled, transparent and positive environment.

      3. Thank you Mag Geoff for all your support and understanding during this time, really appreciate it :) Agree, great comment!

        1. Sorry this comment was supposed to be in reply to Mag Geoff’s 1st comment

    2. I feel bad for the race organizers. Their acceptance in that statement is very gracious. At least now they can work towards healing their country without the distraction of a Grand Prix. Hopefully the country can make things better and return to the calendar next year (with the outer circuit).

      1. Peter if you are here in Bahrain you could cry from feeling bad.. They have worked SO hard it’s not funny.. We tried to show the world the real picture at a time where everyone and everything was against us.

        First they had to deal with the 1st cancellation, they were planning everything, the bill boards were already out, then c h a o s! What are they supposed to do? To be honest the first time around after a few days, I thought we’d have to postpone, the situation was too critical.. As the days went by it became worse so they took the right decision to postpone it. I wasn’t even upset at all because I knew this was the right decision, going ahead with it would’ve been insane.

        If you told me at that moment that the GP would end up being canceled, I would have never believed you, because I knew things weren’t THAT bad to begin with.

        Matters worsened then the govt had to intervene to save us from a civil war, and here we are now.. People were arrested because of the crimes they have committed. It’s easy for you to side against the govt because you have no clue about the atrocities they have committed. Justice is served, and is still being served. Next comes dialogue on the 1st of July. The opposition agreed to have dialogue without preconditions, which was what the CP was trying to do right from the start to no avail.

        Basically now we’ll have dialogue, then I believe in September we’ll have the elections (something I found out from the FIA’s leaked report, who knew?). Ramadan is coming up in between in August. It would a great time to heal, reflect, and reconcile.

        Although many can argue that there are a lot of things that Bahrain needs to consider before F1, we didn’t want F1 because of the show or for the entertainment factor. We needed it for the sake of reviving our economy, helping businesses who many of which are in debt because the didn’t afford to pay for renting.. etc.. As a result, the number of people supporting F1 were ridiculous, I’ve never seen this much ppl who usually don’t care at all when the GP is in town, really take this matter to heart and fight for it with all they can because they were doing so for Bahrain. (Hoping we won’t lose these ppl by March)

        F1 was a need more than it was to prove to the world Bahrain is fine. The protesters aimed to destroy our economy – something that I couldn’t even begin to understand! How can they claim to love their country then cheer as one of the opposition’s leaders told the protesters that the country lost billions. F1 would help a little in bringing an estimated 500 million USD and would create 3000 jobs. The numerous businesses that would have benefited from the GP must be all devastated. The hotels are suffering beyond imagination, the government is trying to think of ways to boost their business.

        March is a long wait.. 9 months.. I’m accepting your condolences on the 2011 Bahrain GP on my forum post in the notF1 section :p

        Only God will help us through this.. We are very shortsighted as humans, and I’m sure God has a bigger and better plan for us in 2012.. Just need to have faith that this is the better plan, and pray that Bahrain solves it’s issues in the most peaceful and orderly way.

        Then we can all celebrate the Bahrain GP, instead of enjoying it alone while all my fellow F1Fs are against me.. I will continue to write you all updates in the forum when I can to keep you updated with the latest developments.

        1. Those 9 months will in reality fly by very fast with all the work needed to be done in Bahrain.

          I will be looking forward to your forum updates, and I would back Peter with that outer loop to celebrate an improved Bahrain, if you don’t mind :-D

        2. Well, LAK, you are crying about some luxury problems while some people in your country are being tortured.

    3. Whilst Bahrain would have been delighted to see the Grand Prix progress on October 30th in-line with the World Motor Sport Council’s decision, it has been made clear that this fixture cannot progress and we fully respect that decision

      Wrong reason. Right decision.

      1. No, it’s for the right reasons. Making some political statement would only have damaged the sport – and far more than the FIA ever could.

        1. The sport has already been damaged and looked at as a joke along with the FIA being looked at as a farce as well. You have the issue with the world looking at FOM and FIA as a disconnected from the world type mindset. You can ride your high horse till the ends of the earth, but as much as you try to convince everyone over and over “oh don’t make a political statement it will run our loved F1”. The thing is it has been looked at as a shame and will go down as such in the history books. You’re entitled to you opinion but you’re not right or absolute and sadly you come off disconnected from reality. But that too is my opinion and not fact.

          1. Widowfactory
            10th June 2011, 8:53

            Not a year goes by without F1 being irreparably damaged by a scandal or some kind. This is just 2011’s, pretty tame compared to previous years: inter-team espionage, race fixing, breakaway threats, and kinky sex scandals.

            F1 will be just fine and carry on as it always has.

        2. ^ Hear, hear MG

          The “apolitical” argument in reference to Bahrain was destroyed months ago. Either on or off, the Bahrain GP would be a political statement by one side or the other. The mere suggestion of its re-instatement was wrapped up in the internal politics of the FIA.

          I’m saddened that FOTA hasn’t cited moral reasons as well as logistics, but that doesn’t mean not going isn’t the morally correct thing to do. Given that McLaren is owned by Bahrain and Ferrari are also involved in the Middle East, I think you’ll find that a lot of the reasons for not speaking out against the atrocities had a lot to do with internal and economic politics too.

          So you may delude yourself into thinking F1 has stayed out of politics, but that was never a possibility in the first place.

        3. The thing is, if the race went ahead, that would be for a political reason (ruling Bahrainis pretending everything’s fine). So either you run the race, and it is political, or you don’t run the race, and that is political too.

          But I agree on a superficial level that the decision and the sport shouldn’t be political, because if it is, then you open a huge can of worms (what political stance should it support? Is everything it does political?) So what you need to do is find an apolitical reason (logistics) to support your covert political stance.

          That’s what they’ve done. So they made the right decision, for the wrong reason, but they chose the wrong reason for the right reason, if you see what I mean.

          Your view is unfortunately too simplistic.

    4. You know what. I’m not convinced, not for a minute has anyone in power in Bahrain even considered altering the hugely oppressive nature of their regime, not for one second are they even willing to admit that the reason the race is not going ahead is not logistics.

      Unless things change, I don’t see why racing at the start of next season is any more desirable. Because all this tells us is they have no intention of releasing prisoners, no intention of allowing the free media back into Bahrain or indeed doing anything, at all, to fix the real issue at hand.

      1. I agree for the most part, but next season is far enough off that they should at least be given the chance to put through real reforms. I imagine if they don’t, protests may start up again before next year’s GP date.

      2. I have no energy to explain our country now, but you should really read up on Bahrain’s achievements and about the National Action Charter that the King intoduced, and about his forgiving nature before throwing such allegations.

        but I don’t blame you Mike :) I blame the media and the opposition for taking things way out of context.

        Don’t believe me? Here is a letter I’ve been meaning to share on twitter in the newspaper

        It’s written by a person from the Shia sect that is against the opposition. This is proof to show you that not everyone is against our leadership. Hundreds of ppl are like this person. The article remained nameless because she/he might be threatened by the opposition, and insult them religiously because they regard the opposition leaders as religious figures. So it is their religious duty to follow their orders which is why we try to explain to you all why this is a sectarian issue.

        Religion shouldn’t affect politics, politics shouldn’t affect sports, and in Bahrain this equation was jumbled up!

        1. Sorry LAK, I hope that that “National Action Charter” has a good effect, but I am somewhat sceptical after what happened earlier this year when the Crown Prince had a similar sounding initiative: not long after the PM took over, and the Saudi (sorry Gulf-state) troops came in to put down any perceived protest – that doesn’t really show a constructive and open attitude, especially with the blaming of Iran for it, for which there was really no evidence (apart from Iran probably wishing it had tried harder to do so, to detract from its own issues).

          Earlier this year you tried to explain this wasn’t a sectarian issue, and I think you were right. It is simply two different parts of the population, one with the majority of people, the other with the majority of power, and while the inequality has simmered for a long time (probably), it now came out, and was handled badly by those in power – that usually happens, and typically, the other group(s) don’t react very nicely to that.

          Your country needs to address this. It isn’t the first country to have such issues, and it isn’t easy to solve, but I wish you wisdom and success in doing so.

        2. That is by far the most frustrating comment I’ve ever read.

          Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa became the King of Bahrain in 2002 I think, after having previously been it’s emir from 1999… He gained power after an uprising, which was not dissimilar to the current one in that it had religious undertones. In 2001 he introduced the “National action charter”.

          Now, I think it’s quite interesting that you mention the charter, because it’s quite easy to see that the King has no interest in holding himself or his government to it.

          Lak, I’d like to direct you to chapter one.

          “1-All citizens are equal before the law in terms of rights and duties, without distinction of race, origin, language, religion or belief.”

          “3- No person shall in any way be subjected to any kind of physical or moral torture, inhumane, humiliating or indignant treatment. Any confession or utterance obtained under torture, threatening or persuasion shall be null and void. In particular, an accused shall not be subjected to any physical or moral harm. Law ensures punishment of those who commit an offense of torture, a physically or psychologically harmful act.”

          “7- Personal correspondence shall enjoy inviolability and secrecy. Mail, cable, telephone, electronic and other correspondence shall be protected. Save in cases where law deems it necessary, and subject to judicial supervision, such correspondence shall not be censored or inspected.”

          Does this sound like Bahrain to you?
          It doesn’t to me, that’s for sure, in fact, I’d go so far as to say that these things you claim the King has achieved are in fact the very things the protestors are fighting for.

          Lack, I strongly recommend you use sources other than the Gulf Daily News as it doesn’t strike me as particularly credible. On many, many news sites (such as the BBC, Spiegel or Bangkokpost) and even F1 Fanatic itself you find some praise, but also some criticism of the government(s). Even though they may tend to favor a party in the political context, they are able to produce damning material as well. The Gulf has nothing but praise for the Bahraini government and to my mind, this is nothing but an indication that it is several pages of shameless propaganda.

          An unsigned letter is proof only that someone wrote it. It tells us nothing about who wrote it, or if anyone agrees with them.

          On the other hand you are right about politics not affecting sport though, Mr Khalifa shouldn’t use F1 to boost his political position.

          Religion shouldn’t affect politics, politics shouldn’t affect sports, and in Bahrain this equation was jumbled up!

          And which part of that prevents foreign journalism?

        3. I’m sorry LAK but you’re sounding more and more like a government stooge every day. Your claims are getting ever more absurd and you appear to be in complete denial about what’s actually happening to people in your country.

          Bahraini poet set to face verdict for protest reading

          8 June 2011

          A Bahraini poet faces possible imprisonment for reading out a poem criticizing the country’s King when a military court rules on her case next Sunday.

          Ayat al-Qarmezi, 20, a poet and student was arrested in March for reading out a poem at a pro-reform rally in the capital Manama. She has been charged with “incitement to hatred of the regime” and has reportedly been tortured while in detention.

          Bahrain Workers’ Rights

          8 June, 2011

          The more you become involved in the complexities of politics, even within a relatively small country like Bahrain, the more you see the fallacy of that maxim of natural law which states that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. If only this were true. Sadly, it is because we are not all born free and equal that we must fight to claim the rights that we are all supposed to have. It is not enough to sit back and watch as supposedly ‘inalienable’ rights are taken away from others.

          The International Labor Organisation know this, and while they may not have as much influence over western governments as they once did, supra-national organisations like the ILO are central in raising awareness about the abuse of labor rights in authoritarian states like Bahrain. From a legal perspective, it is important to note that it is not just ‘abstract’ multilateral treaties that Bahrain ignores when forcing the sacking of hundreds of workers for their political and religious beliefs, but also bilateral treaties which it has signed such as the 2006 US-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement.

          Workers sacked for religious or political beliefs:
          Alba 374
          Bapco 297
          Batelco 157
          Gulf Air 153
          Khalifa Sea Port 140
          Others 661

          Bahrain faces fresh torture claims over health workers’ trial

          7 June 2011

          The Bahraini authorities must independently investigate fresh claims that dozens of doctors and nurses on trial before a military court were tortured in detention and made to sign false confessions, Amnesty International said today.

          Relatives of the accused have alleged to Amnesty International that security officials at Bahrain’s Criminal Investigations Directorate forced detainees to stand for long periods, deprived them of sleep, beat them with rubber hoses and wooden boards containing nails, and made them sign papers while blindfolded.

          One of the detainees, who was bailed last month, was slapped in the face while blindfolded, insulted and threatened: “if you don’t confess I’ll take you to someone who will make you confess”.

    5. I wonder what the significance in the championship will eventually be?

      The cancelations originally benefitted Mclaren, and saved them from embarrassment at the season curtain raiser, because the MP4-26 simply was not ready to race.

      And if the Bahrain GP was on later in he season it could easily have been another race for Mclaren to compete with RedBull to reduce the deficit, possibly as the fastest team on track, which would be unsurprising, Mclaren have been relentless in bringing updates this season so far!

      A confirmed cancelation will benefit RedBull until they are overtaken in the championships though, because it’s one less opportunity for “the pack” to overhaul the leader.

      1. It is not yet a two horse race.

    6. That was… unexpected.

      1. I didn’t expect them to cave in so easily, but they made the right call on all fronts.

    7. The problem for Bahrain is that we all know just how hard is it to get back into the calendar once you have been dropped.

      Bahrain is now a serious contender besides Turkey to be left off the 2012 calendar to make it 20 events a year.

    8. I am glad that they have step down.

    9. Well call me cynical, but to be honest, it seemed evident that the race was not going to happen this year, so why wouldn’t they back down and be the ones to call it off? Now everybody sees them as gracious and stuff, but really all they’ve done is admit defeat when it was obvious anyway.

      1. I think you are probably right, this might well all according to Ecclestone’s plan.

    10. Maybe now Bahrain can spend those $40m saved oil money on something more important.

      1. Yeah maybe now they can finally get that p.o.w camp they’ve been wanting for so long. All the good bahraini’s like lak will be safe from the evil shia doctors nurses elderly and children.

      2. Of course they make no money from that race. It’s all cost …

        Besides, we all know that money is their biggest problem. Oh wait, no it isn’t, besides of course … the tourism sector

    11. So the Indian F1 GP is back to October date? Need to book my tickets right away..Cant wait any longer to attend my first F1 GP.

      1. HounslowBusGarage
        10th June 2011, 9:11

        Certainly looks that way. There was a certain amount of relief being expressed when it was suggested that the Indian race was moving to December – gave JayPee six weeks extra – but now it’s back to the original timetable and they will really have to work every hour there is.
        Enjoy the race!

    12. Bahrain has absolutely no desire to see a race which would further extends the calendar season detract from the enjoyment of F1 for either drivers, teams or supporters.

      It was never going to be anything but that and they didn’t seem too concerned about it before.

      Hopefully the country will now move on.

    13. Right decision. I get the feeling they tried to rush into it a bit, but then regretted it. I’m glad they thought it through properly this time.

    14. while they’re at it, completely rebuild the track too to make it less of a borefest.
      Casting morality and politics aside, the Bahrain GP will not be missed by most F1 fans. I for one hope it never returns to the calender in its current form. Soulless track producing the most boring racing. Australia as a season opener is just so much more fun.

    15. That’s brilliant, the decision has been made, I just hope the FIA don’t start pressurizing Bahrain to put the race back on, just get on with it and move India back to Oct 30th and we’ll all be happy

    16. The only days they could have held the race on were the 11th-13th March 2011. When they lost those days, the race was over for the season.

    17. reddevilandy10
      10th June 2011, 12:44

      Good news.

      On a purely racing perspective… No one really likes this track and I’m not a big fan of it either. Can’t it just be scrapped altogether?

    18. A very mature decision from the organisers. A nice statement too. I will be happy to see it back in 2012.

    Comments are closed.