Feb.22 (GMM) The 2011 season opener in Bahrain has been called off.
The news, late on Monday, followed hot on the heels of reports that the final pre-season test at the same Sakhir venue will also not take place, due to the civil unrest in the island Kingdom.But while the ink was still dry on the cancellation statements, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone was stressing the possibility of a rescheduled Bahrain grand prix later in 2011."Obviously it would depend on the political situation there, so we would not plan anything in the next few months," he told the Daily Express.It had been rumoured that the 80-year-old Briton might reshuffle the end of the calendar to make room for a new Bahrain date.Ecclestone also said: "There is a three-week gap in August for the F1 shutdown but the temperatures then would be a bit extreme. Maybe later around the Indian grand prix could be possible if things are ok there (in Bahrain)."The other knock-on effect of Monday's news is that teams have decided to reconvene at the Circuit de Catalunya for their final four-day test of the winter from March 8.And the 2011 season will get started two weeks later in Australia.The wording of the official announcement made clear that it was the Bahrain royal family's decision to postpone the event, which was important ostensibly for insurance, legal and commercial reasons."Our nation's priority is on overcoming tragedy, healing divisions and rediscovering the fabric that draws this country together," said the Crown Prince.He stressed that Ecclestone had reassured Bahrain "that a decision on the race was entirely Bahrain's to make"."We felt it was important for the country to focus on immediate issues of national interest and leave the hosting of (the race) to a later date," added the prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa.The governing FIA said it "supports the decision", and Red Bull driver added: "Hopefully Bahrain can stage the race again".