Coming as a surprise to no one, the island nation of Bahrain has opted to cancel the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix due to political unrest within the country. Officially, it’s because Bahrain wants to focus on “overcoming tragedy, healing divisions and rediscovering the fabric that draws the country together,” in the words of Bahrain’s Crown Prince. Unofficially, it’s because they couldn’t guarantee the security of F1 crews, drivers and race fans from around the world. Regardless, recent events in Bahrain really put things into perspective: compared to political upheaval and loss of life, even an F1 race seems pretty damn insignificant.
F1 teams will need to cancel in-country testing scheduled to begin on March 3 as well. Since teams have already shipped ocean freight to Bahrain, rescheduling the testing will be no easy task. The season opener now becomes the Australian Grand Prix on March 27, which gives teams an additional two weeks to prepare if a suitable testing location can be found. Australia isn’t likely, since the Qantas Australian Grand Prix is held on a street course, not a dedicated racing circuit.
Bernie Ecclestone has stated his intention to reschedule the Bahrain Grand Prix if the political situation stabilizes. The most likely date would be November 20, between the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 13 and the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix on November 27. That would prove taxing on teams and drivers alike, so there’s also talk of moving the Brazil event back to December 4. Whatever happens, I wish the people of Bahrain all the best in these troubled times.