• Bahrain rescheduling

Abu Dhabi happy to go back-to-back with Bahrain

ESPNF1 Staff
February 24, 2011 « Trulli slams balance of new Pirellis | »
Abu Dhabi and Bahrain could end up with back-to-back races at the end of the season © Getty Images

Organisers of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix would be happy to have back-to-back races with Bahrain towards the end of the season, even if it detracts from their own event.

The Bahrain Grand Prix was scheduled as the season opener but has been postponed due to unrest in the country. Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is determined to see it back on the calendar, but the tightly-packed schedule of 20 races has left few possibilities.

With the kingdom's security situation too uncertain in the coming months, the weather too harsh in the middle of the year, and freight scheduling needing some time to organise, the most logical arrangement is for it to slot in between the Abu Dhabi and Brazilian Grands Prix, creating a double-header in the Middle East and shifting the race at Sao Paulo back one week - although that could clash with the the end of the Brazilian football season

Although any plans are entirely dependent on the situation in Bahrain improving, United Arab Emirates motorsport boss Mohammed ben Sulayem, who is also the FIA's vice-president for sport, said Abu Dhabi would be happy with that.

"We are organisers of the Abu Dhabi race and we respect the [FIA's] judgement," ben Sulayem told The National newspaper. "Finding time in the calendar is feasible. Originally, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain agreed to have a big separation on the calendar to make the most of the exposure that a grand prix brings. However, this is an emergency and in an emergency we need to work together.

"I spoke with Bernie and he was very straight. It wasn't for us to decide. It was up to the Crown Prince of Bahrain because there are more important things going on there than motorsports.

"What is crucial is Bahrain get their priorities right, and I believe they have done so. Stability is the most important factor at this stage, but once it returns then we will push to bring the race back, because we know they would do the same for us."

A report in the Daily Telegraph gives some insight into the sport's eagerness to reschedule Bahrain. Ecclestone has revealed he will waive the race's $40 million sanctioning fee if the event doesn't take place, while Gulf Air pays an estimated $6m for the naming rights. And the teams also stand to lose out due to penalty clauses relating to missing races in their contracts with sponsors.

Meanwhile, some equipment had already been shipped by sea to Bahrain; Pirelli had sent 1200 tyres, and the entire travelling circus had arranged hotels, flights, rental cars and rental equipment. "We are trying to recover as much of these costs as possible," admitted Toro Rosso's team manager Gianfranco Fantuzzi.