The FIA says it will stick to its May deadline for a final decision over the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix, despite fresh tension in the country making it ever more unlikely that the race will be able to go ahead on a rescheduled date.
The Sakhir event should have opened the 2011 Formula 1 schedule last weekend, but the race was postponed following the unrest in capital Manama in February that saw a number of fatalities. Hopes that the situation was subsequently calming were dashed when the Bahrain government declared a three-month state of emergency after fresh protests.
The FIA had said that it would give the Bahrain authorities until the start of May to inform it whether the political situation had improved sufficiently for the race to be slotted in on a new late-season date. Despite the three-month state of emergency being set to run through May, the governing body's president Jean Todt said tonight that the previously announced deadline still stood.
"As you all know, on advice from the Bahrain Motor Federation we have had to skip the inaugural grand prix in that country due to severe social unrest," Todt wrote in a letter to the F1 media. "We have asked our Bahraini colleagues to inform us by May 1 on whether the race can take place. We wish them well in their ongoing attempts to resolve their issues."
F1 commercial manager Bernie Ecclestone has always been adamant that he would like the Bahrain GP to take place this year provided the state's government was content that it was safe to go ahead with the race.