The organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix have until 1 May to decide whether or not they wish the troubled race to feature on the F1 calendar at a later date in 2011, the FIA has resolved.
Following a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) in Paris today (Tuesday), it has been revealed that the Bahrain Motor Federation has been instructed 'to communicate by 1 May at the latest if the Bahrain Grand Prix can be organised in 2011'.
The scheduled 13 March season curtain-raiser was cancelled – or possibly postponed, subject to a suitable future slot being found – last month, following ongoing civil unrest and political protest in the desert kingdom. Due to widespread fears that the event could be exploited as a means for disaffected activists to air their grievances in the full glare of the world's media, the ruling family deemed the situation too volatile and dangerous to go ahead with the grand prix, and elected to focus their full efforts instead on initiating dialogue and restoring peace.
Having quashed his earlier notion of running the race during the August summer break, Bernie Ecclestone has hinted that a date somewhere in-between the closing Abu Dhabi and Brazilian outings is now the most likely solution, perhaps forcing Interlagos back a week to 4 December. The Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on 27 March has usurped Bahrain's role as the opening round of the F1 2011 campaign.
Should Bahrain's Crown Prince – HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa – inform the FIA by 1 May that the desire remains to welcome F1 this year, then the sport's governing body in tandem with commercial rights-holder Ecclestone will seek to re-instate the race at a convenient juncture.
“We will have a look and see what we can do, how we can swap things around a bit,” the Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive had mused last week. “Maybe we can change it with Brazil, or something like that, but forget August – it's too hot for the public to sit in the grandstand at 40-odd degrees.
“The people [in Bahrain], and the public, have been big supporters for us, and it has become bigger and bigger. We've more support now, much more than when we first started there, and if they want the race then we want to be able to supply it for them. If there is peace in Bahrain, we will be there.
“We don't need an alternative race anywhere in Europe or any other place – 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.”