Albert Park to open F1 after Bahrain canned

The start of the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix

The start of the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix

The Australian Grand Prix has become the first round of the 2011 Formula One World Championship after the Bahrain Grand Prix was cancelled.

Following unrest in Bahrain and days of uncertainty over the event, the decision to dump the first round was confirmed by the track organisers on Monday afternoon.

The Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifah informed Bernie Ecclestone of the decision.

“At the present time the country’s entire attention is focused on building a new national dialogue for Bahrain,” the Crown Prince said in a statement.

“Although Bernie Ecclestone had graciously made clear that a decision on the race was entirely Bahrain’s to make and was not yet required, we felt it was important for the country to focus on immediate issues of national interest and leave the hosting of Bahrain’s Formula 1 race to a later date.

“I would like to extend my personal gratitude to Bernie Ecclestone for his support and understanding.

“After the events of the past week, our nation’s priority is on overcoming tragedy, healing divisions and rediscovering the fabric that draws this country together; reminding the world of the very best that Bahrain is capable of as a nation once again united.”

Ecclestone said that he is disappointed that the Bahrain Grand Prix will not be on the 2011 calendar.

“It is sad that Bahrain has had to withdraw from the race, we wish the whole nation well as they begin to heal their country,” the F1 supremo said.

“The hospitality and warmth of the people of Bahrain is a hallmark of the race there, as anyone who has been at a Bahrain Grand Prix will testify. We look forward to being back in Bahrain soon.”

The postponement of the race means the season will now start in Australia on March 24-27.

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