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Tue 3 May 2011 12:10 PM

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Bahrain gets June 3 deadline for Grand Prix call

Gulf kingdom gets more time to decide on F1 race rescheduling as unrest continues to simmer

Bahrain gets June 3 deadline for Grand Prix call
The Bahrain Grand Prix has been cancelled following the political unrest in the country (Getty Images)

Bahrain has been given a deadline of June 3 to decide whether its scrapped Grand Prix race can be rescheduled this year, Formula One’s governing body said Monday.

“This decision was taken after consultation with the relevant Bahraini authorities and Formula One Management,” the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement.

The FIA had initially said the Gulf state had until May 1 to make a decision on the race.

The Bahrain Grand Prix was scheduled to be the F1 season-opener on March 13, but was cancelled in February by Bahrain's crown prince after widespread political unrest took hold in the kingdom.

Bahrain has since crushed protests by imposing martial law, inviting in troops from neighbours such as Saudi Arabia and arresting activists. Last week, four pro-reform activists were sentenced to death for the killing of two military policemen. Three others received life sentences.

Formula One’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said Saturday that Bahrain could be slotted into the race calendar in October or November if a decision was made by early June.

“We need to wait a little bit to see exactly how progress is made," the 80-year-old said, adding that it might be "bye-bye Bahrain" but a decision was not imminent.

"I suppose we'd be safe by early June or something like that," he said.

Pro-democracy activists in Bahrain wrote an open letter to Ecclestone last week asking him not to reinstate the Gulf state’s race until the government ends its crackdown on protesters.

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