The FIA ï»¿have today announced that the Bahrain Grand Prix, which was postponed from March after civil unrest in the gulf state, will now take place on 30th October.
The date was originally reserved for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, but the race in Delhi now becomes the season finale and will take place in December – either on the 4th or the 11th.
At the World Motor Sport Council in Barcelona today, the decision to re-instate the Bahrain Grand Prix was unanimous, and was said to ‘reflect the spirit of reconciliation’ in the state.
However, the decision flies in the face of protests from human rights groups and opposition from those within the F1 world, including Mark Webber and Damon Hill.
Webber yesterday posted a message on Twitter implying that he did not think the race should go ahead. “When people in a country are being hurt, the issues are bigger than sport,” he wrote. Hill, speaking to the BBC today, expressed his view that F1 “will forever have the blight of association with repressive methods to achieve order” if it returns to Bahrain.
However, the FIA took a fact-finding mission to the country on 31st May, led by President Jean Todt, and conducted meetings 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.
The FIA today gave the following justification for re-instating the race:
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.”