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F1 to return to Bahrain in November 2012

Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone has announced that Formula One will return to Bahrain in November of next year. The decision has not been without its critics.

Bernie Ecclestone: protest over?
Bernie Ecclestone: protest over?
Image: David Davies/PA Wire/Press Association Images

This year’s Bahrainian Grand Prix may have been cancelled, but Formula One rights holder Bernie Ecclestone is adamant that next year’s event will go ahead as planned. That said, the 2012 event has already undergone a scheduling change that has seen it moved from March of next year to November.

That change, according to The Guardian, was made at the behest of the Gulf kingdom itself. An article in the newspaper quotes Ecclestone as saying that Bahrain’s reluctance to host the event so soon forced him to “screw the whole calendar up”.

The FIA maintains that this year’s event was cancelled due to security concerns arising from the deteriorating political situation in the kingdom, but it is suspected that the teams themselves refused to travel in protest at the Bahrainian royal family’s violent response to pro-democracy demonstrations on the streets of the nation’s capital, Manama. It is alleged that as many as 32 civilians were killed by government forces during the demonstrations.

Red Bull’s Mark Webber was the first driver to voice his dissatisfaction at this latest announcement.

“In my personal opinion, the sport should have taken a much firmer stance earlier this year rather than constantly delaying its decision in the hope of being able to reschedule it in 2011. It would have sent a very clear message about F1′s position on something as fundamental as human rights and how it deals with moral issues.”

It remains to be seen if the decision will provoke a response from other drivers on the grid.

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