Bahrain withdraws opening race

Bahrain Grand Prix organisers have announced that the event will not host the opening round of the 2011 Formula 1 season, after days of uncertainty following unrest in the country

Bahrain withdraws opening race

The decision was finally confirmed by the track organisers on Monday afternoon.

The Crown Prince informed Bernie Ecclestone of the decision by telephone earlier today.

"At the present time the country's entire attention is focused on building a new national dialogue for Bahrain," said Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.

"Although Bernie Ecclestone had graciously made clear that a decision on the race was entirely Bahrain's to make and was not yet required, we felt it was important for the country to focus on immediate issues of national interest and leave the hosting of Bahrain's Formula 1 race to a later date.

"I would like to extend my personal gratitude to Bernie Ecclestone for his support and understanding.

"After the events of the past week, our nation's priority is on overcoming tragedy, healing divisions and rediscovering the fabric that draws this country together; reminding the world of the very best that Bahrain is capable of as a nation once again united."

Ecclestone added: "It is sad that Bahrain has had to withdraw from the race, we wish the whole nation well as they begin to heal their country.

"The hospitality and warmth of the people of Bahrain is a hallmark of the race there, as anyone who has been at a Bahrain Grand Prix will testify. We look forward to being back in Bahrain soon."

The postponement of the race means the season will now start in Australia on 27 March, two weeks later than originally scheduled.

Renault boss Eric Boullier said his team fully supported the decision.

"The recent situation in Bahrain has been very difficult for the country. We feel the decision taken by the Crown Prince is wise and we fully support it," he said.

"The Bahrain Grand Prix has always been welcomed with enthusiasm from the Bahraini people, and we're looking forward to going back there when they have healed their country. We will now amend our logistics accordingly and will get ready for Australia."

No decision has been made on a new date for the rescheduling of the race, which was due to take place from March 11th to 13th.

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