Despite Formula One Management (FOM) chief Bernie Ecclestone's insistence on keeping the Bahrain Grand Prix on the F1 calendar, reports coming out of the country suggest that the race may have to sit it out for 2011.
According to the Financial Times nearly a quarter of the staff of the Bahrain GP were arrested in early April and have been suspended or sacked. All these staff members were Shia Muslims.
Protests by Shias, who form the majority of the Muslim population in the Persian Gulf Island state, started this year against the ruling King who is a Sunni. Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, has until June 3 to decide whether or not the Bahrain GP will feature in this year's F1 championship. There is even talk of the race taking the place of the Indian GP on the calendar with the latter being shifted to a season ending slot.
Money seems to be the biggest incentive for Ecclestone to ensure that the race takes place this year. Formula One Advertising (FOA), of which Ecclestone is the CEO would have to waive a reported race hosting fee of $34 million if the race does not go ahead.