Organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix have been granted an extended deadline to provide assurances to the FIA that they will be able to safely stage the event later this year.
Motor sport’s governing body yesterday announced organisers now have until June 3 – the date of the next FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in Barcelona – to decide whether they will be able to proceed.
The Gulf Kingdom had been due to stage the opening race of the Formula One season on March 13 but it was postponed in February owing to widespread civil unrest.
An original deadline of May 1 came and went with no word on whether the event would be rescheduled for later in the year or abandoned altogether, and yesterday’s announcement will ensure the guessing game will continue for several more weeks at least.
“The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile has granted the Bahrain Motor Federation and the Bahrain International Circuit an extension until June 3,” read a statement on the FIA website.
“This decision was taken after consultation with the relevant Bahraini authorities and Formula One Management, the international promoter.”
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone was known to be keen to grant the Bahrain organisers more time to reschedule the race amid claims the situation is improving in the country following the anti-government protests.
But with the Gulf state still under martial law and four demonstrators being sentenced to death on Thursday over the killing of two police officers during protests, the situation remains fluid and uncertain.
Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed Rashid Alzayani said in a statement at the weekend: “The situation is evolving all the time; our day-to-day life is gradually improving under the current State of National Safety.
“We look forward to welcoming the teams and drivers and everyone involved in Formula 1 back to Bahrain in the very near future.”
An alternative date of November 20 has been suggested, just a week after the penultimate race of the season in Abu Dhabi. However, rescheduling the race for that date would likely lead to the season finale in Brazil, currently slated for November 27, being put back a week.