• Bahrain rescheduling

December calendar extension 'too much' - Brawn

ESPNF1 Staff
May 30, 2011 « Vettel almost champion - Alonso | »
A decision on whether F1 should race in Bahrain in 2011 will be made on Friday © Sutton Images

Ross Brawn has again spoken out about the possibility of extending the Formula One calendar until mid-December to accommodate a rescheduled Bahrain Grand Prix.

The World Motor Sport Council will meet on Friday to decide whether the Bahrain Grand Prix should take place this year and how best to accommodate it if it does. Bernie Ecclestone said at the weekend that he hoped it would return to the calendar, replacing the Indian Grand Prix on October 30, which in turn would be postponed until December 11 to become the season finale.

But Mercedes team principal Brawn thinks that would be too much to ask of his hard-working team members.

"That [December] is too much," he is quoted as saying by spox.com in Monaco. "Our guys have been working since January and to then give them no time for a holiday until Christmas is not acceptable."

However, McLaren team principal and FOTA chairman Martin Whitmarsh said on Friday there is no question as to whether the teams will attend the race if it is rescheduled.

"I think it's tough on the team, simple as that," he said. "I think the teams will go to the races that are on the calendar, that's for sure, but I think it makes it a very long season. The guys started working very hard in mid-January, building cars to go testing and it will make it a very, very long season for them."

Aside from the logistics of extending the calendar, there is still the question of whether a Bahrain Grand Prix in late October would be appropriate or indeed safe. On Wednesday the island kingdom's state of emergency will be lifted and, although talks about political reform are expected, a spokesman for an opposition Shia party told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that there may be some "surprises" in June.

"I think the people will advance - fast [or] slow," Khalil Ebrahim al-Marzooq said. "This is history and this, I think, is the moment in this region so the people will not succumb. Especially the Bahraini people, they never surrender. Maybe they keep quiet for some time but they will march again and I think June will have some surprises."

There are other pressures on Ecclestone to give up his plans to reschedule Bahrain this year, including from the New York-based Human Rights Watch. On Thursday it wrote to the FIA and F1 teams saying: "We believe your decision should be informed by, among other things, the severe human rights crisis in Bahrain today, one that has worsened considerably since the cancellation decision in February. We seriously question whether a successful Formula One event can be staged in an environment characterized by an unrelenting official campaign of punitive retribution against many who participated in or otherwise supported the pro-democracy protests."