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Page last updated at 16:20 GMT, Tuesday, 15 March 2011

State of emergency puts Bahrain GP 2011 return in doubt

Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone
Ecclestone had been keen to keep Bahrain on the 2011 schedule

The postponed Bahrain Grand Prix may end up being dropped from the 2011 Formula 1 schedule after a three-month state of emergency was declared.

The season-opening race was pulled from 13 March slot after unrest but was not ruled out for a return later in 2011.

The sport's governing body, the FIA, says it will honour the 1 May deadline they gave Bahrain organisers to decide whether the race could be rescheduled.

But the king's security pronouncement casts doubt on a rearrangement.

"The [FIA] world council tried to govern everybody's expectations last week, which is why the 1 May deadline was imposed," an FIA spokesman said.

"The deadline was made in a clear and relaxed way and in light of what has occurred in Bahrain.

"There were many people involved in making that decision and for now the council will respect the deadline. There is an obligation to that.

"But clearly the situation is fluid. We're adapting to information day by day, because of what is now happening we will react when it is the right moment."

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F1 had been preparing for its longest season, with 20 races originally planned on a packed calendar that runs from March until the final race in Brazil on 27 November.

Australia will now stage the first race of the campaign after the crown prince of Bahrain [Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa] called off the race at the Sakhir circuit so Bahrain could focus on its "national interest".

On Monday the Foreign Office warned British nationals against all travel to the country, but before then, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone had rejected suggestions the race should be re-assigned and was keen for it to remain in Bahrain, at a new time.

A potential date for August, when F1 has a three-week break from competition, was been ruled out because it would be too hot as average temperatures in Bahrain reach 38 degrees Celsius.

A new date near the end of the season was thought to be the most likely solution, with the last races in Abu Dhabi and Brazil possibly being reshuffled.

"We don't need an alternative race anywhere in Europe or any other place," Ecclestone had said on the official Formula 1 website.

"We need a race in Bahrain. If the crown prince is of the opinion that his country is able to host a race we will return to Bahrain."

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see also
Bahrain orders state of emergency
15 Mar 11 |  Middle East
F1 schedule is a squeeze - Horner
25 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Bahrain GP off after civil unrest
21 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Country profile: Bahrain
04 Jun 11 |  Country profiles

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