Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone has served a warning that the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled to be held on March 13, could be canceled if the protests in Bahrain don't die down soon.
Bahrain's demography consists of a majority of Shia Muslims who have been ruled by a Sunni Muslim royal family since the Eighteenth century. Earlier in the week, thousands of Shi'ite Muslims took to the streets in protest against the royal family, demanding more say in the running of the kingdom. On Thursday, authorities banned the protesters and police moved to clear a protestor-camp situated right in the middle of the capital city of Manama. It led to the killing of three people.
The protests have already led to the cancellation of the GP2 Asia event at the Sakhir circuit which was to be held during the weekend and the Bahrain Grand Prix organizers released a statement late on Thursday, saying Our focus at the present time remains on delivering another successful event in the form of the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix, (and) we continue to monitor the situation very closely indeed in association with the relevant authorities. Our priority at this time is ensuring the wellbeing of everyone associated with this event, and we will respond appropriately to any further developments.
F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said that he would make the decision early next week on whether to go ahead with the race. He said, If things stay as they are today, the answer is no. If it's not quietened down by Wednesday, I think we will have to cancel probably.
I spoke to the Crown Prince this morning. He doesn't know any more than you or I, but they're monitoring exactly what is going on. Ecclestone added.
However, Ecclestone has a more pressing matter to deal with, which is whether to go ahead with the final pre-season testing scheduled to be held in Bahrain from March 3 to 6. A report in BBC Sport said that teams are already considering whether to go ahead with the final pre-season test with the option of moving to one of the Spanish test tracks available. All the teams are currently in Barcelona for the penultimate pre-season test.