LONDON, June 3, 2011 (AFP) - The Bahrain Grand Prix was reinstated on the Formula One calendar on Friday, a decision that sparked opposition from teams, drivers and promoters.
F1's governing body the FIA unanimously voted to reschedule the race which was cancelled in March due to civil unrest in the Gulf state.The 2011 Bahrain GP will now be held on October 30, the original slot for the inaugural Indian GP which has been shifted to a season-closing date on December 11.
Mercedes Grand Prix team chief Ross Brawn said this week that he had told F1 commercial ring-master Bernie Ecclestone that a December 11 finale was not an option.
Brawn said: "I think it is unacceptable and we've told Bernie that and he knows our opinion.
"If we continue to take those sort of approaches then we will run into problems because our people cannot be expected to work in that environment and situation."
India will be the latest final race since 1963 and will confirm the longest season on record - 20 races - a target that Ecclestone has sought for many years.
In a statement, the FIA said that its World Motor Sports Council had "unanimously" agreed to reinstate Bahrain after a fact-finding mission to the kingdom this week.
It said the decision to run the race "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."
The Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) welcomed the FIA decision.BIC chairman Zayed Rashid Alzayani commented: "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 Bahrain Grand Prix has always been a source of national pride and it is an event than transcends politics. Not only does it receive strong support from the Government, but also from all major parties in Bahrain, including our largest opposition group, Al Wefaq, who yesterday (Thursday) endorsed both the BIC and motor-racing in Bahrain.
"Importantly, it will also offer a significant boost to the economy. The Grand Prix attracts 100,000 visitors, supports 3,000 jobs and generates around $500m of economic benefit. Its positive effect will be felt throughout the country."
Champions Red Bull issued a statement in which they said that the FormulaOne Teams' Association would "discuss this decision within the appropriate forum."
The decision also flew in the face of opposition from Red Bull's Australian driver Mark Webber, the president of the British Racing Drivers' Club Damon Hill and former FIA president Max Mosley.
All three were quoted on Friday protesting at the possibility of a return to Bahrain, Hill pointing out that all the teams and drivers would be abdicating their responsibilities if they agreed to go.
He told The Times: "The crux of the matter is the money. The default decision-making process in Formula One is about the bottom line, but where does that end? If the bottom line is the only criterion then that is a bad
Mosley said: "If I was president today, Formula One would go to Bahrain over my dead body. It cannot happen."
Webber told his Twitter followers: "When people in a country are being hurt, the issues are bigger than the sport. Let's hope the right decision is made."