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Bahrain 2011 reinstated, as India becomes season finale

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The 2011 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix will take place on October 30, the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) announced on Friday. The 2011 Formula 1 Grand Prix of India, which had been scheduled for that date, will now become the season finale combined with the FIA Annual General Assembly and Prize-Giving Gala.

The Bahrain race had originally been due to take place on March 13, but was postponed due to civil unrest in the island state. A decision on whether to reinstate it had been expected at the start of May, but the FIA extended the deadline at the request of Bahraini authorities.

The decision means the 2011 FIA Formula One World Championship will now comprise an unprecedented 20 rounds, with India having to wait to stage its inaugural Grand Prix at the all new Buddh International Circuit.

“Following a fact-finding mission undertaken at the request of FIA President Jean Todt, FIA Vice President Carlos Gracia visited Bahrain on 31 May 2011 to assess the situation in the country,” read an FIA statement.

“Meetings were conducted with the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Bahrain Motor Federation and Bahrain International Circuit, as well as other national and international organisations including Mr. Tariq Al Saffar at the National Institute of Human Rights. It should be noted that the recent announcement by the King of Bahrain has established a political dialogue and reconciliation process.

“After considering all the factors and taking into consideration all stakeholders’ concerns, the WMSC unanimously agreed to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix in the 2011 FIA Formula One World Championship.”

“This is welcome news for all of Bahrain,” commented Zayed R. Alzayani, Chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC). “As a country we have faced a difficult time, but stability has returned; with businesses operating close to normal, the State of National Safety lifted and countries removing travel restrictions.

“Collectively, we are in the process of addressing issues of national and international concern, and learning lessons from the recent past. By the time the Grand Prix arrives we will be able to remind the world about Bahrain at its best.”

The FIA added: “This decision reflects the spirit of reconciliation in Bahrain, which is evident from the strong support the race receives from the Government and all major parties in Bahrain, including the largest opposition group, all of whom endorse the Formula One Grand Prix and motor sport in the country.

“The WMSC feels that reinstating the Grand Prix is a means of helping to unite people as the country looks to move forward, and also recognises the commitment made by the Formula One teams, their employees and families, and personnel associated with the Championship including the local team of volunteers who are so vital to the event.”

Expressing his gratitude at the WMSC’s decision, Zayed R. Alzayani concluded: “On behalf of Bahrain, I would like to thank Bernie Ecclestone, Jean Todt and the FIA and the rest of the motorsport community for the support and understanding they have extended to us this year.”


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Jenson Button
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