F1 Rocks Off

Political unrest on the oil-rich island of Bahrain has forced cancellation of the Formula 1 motor racing Grand Prix March 13 and the F1 Rocks concert scheduled a day earlier.

F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone had shown concern at the escalating violence on the streets of the tiny island, but said he would leave the race’s fate to the country’s leader, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.

Ecclestone also said it may be possible to postpone the race and the concert until later in the F1 calendar. It is produced by London-based Enterprise Entertainment and was to feature David Guetta, Taio Cruz and Sugababes.

At press time it wasn’t clear if the race will take place at a later date, but The Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) has said the country would “withdraw from hosting this year’s F1 Grand Prix race so that the country can focus on its process of national dialogue.”

If the race can be rescheduled it’d be less of a setback for Enterprise, which took over the running of F1 Rocks after All The Worlds – a Universal Music Group joint venture –pulled out after staging one show in Singapore.

It began struggling to attract sufficient sponsorship to cover the artist fees and Universal appeared to lose its enthusiasm for the project.

Enterprise hasn’t had much luck since it began with F1 Rocks. It produced a successful show headlined by Stereophonics at last year’s Italian Grand Prix, but two months later in Brazil the outdoor event was hit by bad weather.

That show was also a success in terms of attendance, pulling 25,000 to see a bill that included Eminem and NERD, but high winds and torrential rain put a dampener on the occasion.

The GP2 Asia series race scheduled for the Bahrain circuit Feb. 17 was canceled because it wasn’t possible to get the medical backup required to stage it.

The local doctors were busy in hospitals dealing with casualties from the protests.

Enterprise communications chief Christine Gorham, who has six years working in F1 public relations and left Live Nation to return to return to the world of motor racing, says her company is looking to set up at least three or four more F1 Rocks shows during the current Grand Prix season.