• Bahrain rescheduling

Bahrain decision needed 'before season starts' - Bernie

ESPNF1 Staff
March 1, 2011 « HRT still waits on 2011 car | »
Bernie Ecclestone has a mid-season slot in mind © Getty Images

Bernie Ecclestone wants a decision on the rescheduling of the Bahrain Grand Prix before the start of the season on March 27 in Australia.

The race was meant to be hosted on March 13 but was called off due to political unrest in the country. The protests in Manama are currently entering their 16th successive day, but King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa has agreed to some of the protestor's demands, including the release of prisoners, and initiated a cabinet reshuffle.

Ecclestone said if Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa believes the conditions are right, the race can be slotted back in to the calendar.

"To do that the FIA has to change the calendar, and Bahrain has to apply for a new slot," he told Formula One's official website. "The FIA World Council will meet at the beginning of March and could look into the situation. I have already spoken with FIA President Jean Todt about the possibility of finding a new date and we both agreed that a decision has to be made before the season starts."

One of the biggest questions is where the race would fit in to the tightly packed schedule. It was thought it would have to slot in towards the end of the year due to Bahrain's intensely hot summer, but Ecclestone has a mid-season date in mind.

"If the Crown Prince is of the opinion that his country is able to host a race we will return to Bahrain," he said. "I think the teams are sensible enough even to race in Bahrain in the summer break, and despite high temperatures, because this is the way we can support the country."

He also rejected claims that the original decision to postpone the race should have been made earlier.

"No. That was not possible," he added. "Shortly before the crisis I had lunch with the Crown Prince (HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa) and there was absolutely no indication of what would come just days after. He was full of ideas for the future then shortly after the chain of events set in. There was almost no time to react. Of course we needed a decision by February 21, and that is what I told him.

"He asked what I would do if I were him, and I answered, 'You are there. We in Europe are hardly in the situation to make a serious judgment of the conditions. Decide what is best for your country'. He then cancelled the race and I think it was the right decision. It was not an easy one, as it was Formula One that put Bahrain on the map. Before 2004 - when Formula One raced there for the first time - not many people knew Bahrain."