Bernie Ecclestone has hinted that the Bahrain Grand Prix
could be slotted into F1's summer break in August after revealing that a decision on whether to reschedule the cancelled season-opener will be taken before the Australian Grand Prix.
Political unrest in the Gulf state, which has resulted in a number of deaths, forced the cancellation of the Bahrain race although the possibility was immediately raised that the event could be run towards the end of the season instead.
Such a move would be dependent on the FIA giving the decision the green light and Ecclestone has now revealed that the governing body is set to make a decision on the race before the Australian GP at the end of the month.
While the end of the season would be the most logical position for a revised race – possibly as a double-header with Abu Dhabi – Ecclestone said there was a possibility that the race could run in August, despite the high temperatures that teams and drivers would be left to face.
“To do that [reschedule the race] the FIA has to change the calendar, and Bahrain has to apply for a new slot,” he told the official F1 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.
“We need a race in Bahrain. If the Crown Prince is of the opinion that his country is able to host a race we will return to Bahrain. 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.”
Both Ecclestone and the FIA have been underfire for not taking the decision to cancel the Bahrain race earlier, but the commercial rights holder said the situation had been handled correctly and that the race couldn't have been canned any earlier.
“That was not possible,” he said. “Shortly before the crisis I had lunch with the Crown Prince 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.”