The possibility of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix being cancelled looks every-more-likely, with event organisers being forced to call off this weekend’s GP2 Asia Series round at the Sakhir circuit in the wake of ongoing political violence gripping the island nation.
As Bahrain descends ever closer to Egypt-inspired political violence as clashes between protestors and police become more frequent and deadly, this leaves F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone having to quickly make a decision on whether the F1 circus travels to Bahrain at all.
Formula 1’s official feeder series was forced to call off the event “at the request of the Bahrain Motorsport Federation”, a statement reads, adding that the event is cancelled “due to force majeure.”
The announcement came just hours after it delayed its Thursday programme because the circuit’s medical staff had to be deployed to the country’s main hospitals, fearing the number of injured from the protests could flood the health system.
This latest announcement adds new doubts about the possibility of the final pre-season test and the opening round of the World Championship happening next month, with the four-day test session in just two weeks’ time, and the opening race less than a month away.
“Of course the essence of the FIA is safety; safety on the racing car, safety on the road, safety in our organisation. So that’s what we are claiming, but at the moment there is no reason to have unnecessary concern.”
One imagines there will be a very different tune being sung by Todt after the latest announcement, and it would seem that Ecclestone has promised a quick decision – by no later than next week – on whether the events in Bahrain would go ahead.
“It’s not good, is it?" he told the Press Association. "We’ll have to keep our eye on things and make a decision quickly.
‘I spoke to the Crown Prince [of Bahrain] this morning. He doesn’t know any more than you or I, but they’re monitoring exactly what is going on.
“Next week we will make a decision on what we are going to do,” he added.
Members of the twelve Formula 1 teams will meet during the upcoming pre-season test session at Barcelona – starting today – to discuss their concerns, with the outfits due to ship their cars and equipment to Bahrain next week, assuming it all goes ahead…
[Original images via Sutton Images]