F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone has seemingly already performed a U-turn on his suggestion that the Bahrain Grand Prix could be rescheduled for the summer break, hinting now at an end of-season slot instead as had initially been mooted, and hoping for a decision as early as Tuesday.
The 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix was cancelled – or postponed – last week, in the wake of continuing and volatile political unrest, protest and even violence in the desert kingdom, with the fear that the arrival there of one of the most high-profile sports in the world would provide an ideal showcase for the disaffected activists.
Having waived the $40 million licensing fee promoters had been due to pay his Formula One Management (FOM) company for the honour of hosting the curtain-raising event, Ecclestone then went on to talk about a possible August date in-between the Hungarian and Belgian Grands Prix [see separate story – click here
] – but now, the British billionaire seems to have reverted back to the original idea of running the race between Abu Dhabi and the Brazilian finale in November.
“I'm hoping beyond hope things settle peacefully and we find a slot later in the year,” the 80-year-old told BBC Sport
, ruling out the August notion due to the extreme mid-summer heat. “If there is peace in Bahrain then we will be there, we will find a way. You never see anything about Bahrain on TV now.”
The first chance for a new date to be set will be when the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) convenes on Tuesday (8 March) in Paris. Should Bahrain be moved to 20 November, as seems most likely, Interlagos could be pushed back a week to 4 December for logistical reasons – a shift that would mark the latest end to an F1 campaign since 1963.