The FIA have today decided that the Bahrain Grand Prix will now be held on the 30th of October. The race was originally scheduled to be the first race of the year but was cancelled due to civil unrest which started before the planned date. A decision was going to be made earlier in the year as to whether the race would be run but the deadline was extended until today.
The chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit said, "as a country we have faced a difficult time, but stability has returned." Not everyone agrees though. A state of emergency was lifted on Wednesday but there are reports of police using rubber bullets and tear gas to suppress protests today. Indeed some think that the state of emergency has been lifted, at least partly, in order to allow the race to go ahead.
The decision to reinstate the race is controversial. Mark Webber said, "When people in a country are being hurt, the issues are bigger than the sport." There is an online petition calling on the teams to withdraw from the race which already has over 350,000 signatures. Max Mosley suggests that sponsors will not be happy to be associated with the events in Bahrain, and the teams themselves are not keen on extending the season into December. This will be to accommodate the Indian Grand Prix which was to have been held in October.
The Formula 1 Teams Association may still not agree to moving the Indian race when they meet to discuss the FIA decision. It seems that returning to Bahrain may not be the best decision for Formula 1. It could be seen as condoning regime which has used highly questionable methods to repress protests.