Bahrain Grand Prix cancelled

Updated: 


The Bahrain Grand Prix has been postponed due to the civil unrest that has seen mass demonstrations in the country's capital city, Manama.

The race was due to take place on the weekend of 12-13 March, but now looks likely to take place at a later date. The first race of the 2011 Formula 1 season will now be the Australian Grand Prix on 27 March.

"We must focus on immediate issues of national interest and leave the hosting to a later date," said Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

"After the events of the past week, our nation's priority is on overcoming tragedy, healing divisions and rediscovering the fabric that draws this country together; reminding the world of the very best that Bahrain is capable of as a nation once again united."

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone had indicated that he would leave the decision to the Crown Prince, feeling that he was best placed to make the call.

"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," said F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

"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."

The drivers and teams have remained largely quiet on the issue so far, but Red Bull's Mark Webber has shown support for the decision, saying: "They know what is going on out there and they have made their call so let's go to Melbourne. Back to the good old days.

"It would have been nice to go to Bahrain but we have to wait a bit longer to have our first race and that just happens to be my home race," said Webber. "I always look forward to going down there. It's a sensational event.

"We are in good shape as a team so we hope to go there and have a very good result."

Webber had previously expressed concern over the possibility of the race taking place.

"When you hear of people losing their lives, this is a tragedy," Webber sadi after practice in Barcelona on Sunday. "It's probably not the best time to go there for a sporting event. They have bigger things, bigger priorities."

The UK Foreign Office has warned against "all but essential" travel to Bahrain, which has been in the grip of violent protests and civil unrest in its capital, Manama.

One plan is for the race to be postponed until the end of the season, either after Abu Dhabi or to another as yet unspecified date, but no firm plans have yet been announced.