The FIA has promised to take into account the views expressed by F1's teams when determining tomorrow (Friday) whether or not the postponed 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix should be re-admitted to the schedule at a later date.
Despite commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone's apparent positivity that provided there is 'peace' in the Middle Eastern nation, the race can be re-accommodated – doubtless fuelled at least in part by the fact that his Formula One Management (FOM) company stands to lose some $40 million in hosting fees if it isn't – the sport's teams are somewhat less convinced.
Mercedes Grand Prix team principal Ross Brawn has stressed that extending the calendar into December would be 'totally unacceptable' due to the strain it would place on already exhausted mechanics and engineers [see separate story – click here
Brawn's former driver Rubens Barrichello agrees that F1 has 'lost the moment' now to return to Bahrain this season after the race that should have lifted the curtain on the 2011 campaign on 13 March was cancelled in the wake of an outbreak of tumultuous anti-government riots and violent political protests that have thus far claimed the lives of at least 30 people in the beleaguered desert kingdom.
The three-month state-of-emergency declared back in March was prematurely ended yesterday (Wednesday), but some observers report that the turmoil and troubles are far from over yet, with Arabic television channel Al Jazeera
alluding to police using tear gas to combat dissidents and an eye-witness remarking that 'with the end of the emergency situation, the security should not be here but they still are'.
Predictably, that picture is one that is denied by Bahraini officials, who insist they are ready to welcome F1 back again, with Bahrain Shura Council's deputy president Jamal Fakhro telling Reuters
: “The end of the national security law and the announcement of dialogue are both positive. It will be a shame if anyone is negative about it. Bahrain will welcome F1, and any other event. There's nothing wrong with that, because life is back to normal now and it will be excellent to have it back.”
The FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) is set to convene in Barcelona tomorrow to decide upon whether or not it is viable to reschedule the Bahrain Grand Prix this year, and if the outcome is a positive one, it would likely necessitate either the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos or the inaugural Indian Grand Prix near New Delhi being shifted back into December, marking the latest conclusion to an F1 season since 1963. Either way, all parties' views will be adequately considered, the governing body assures.
“On Friday, we will need to determine whether teams are against [the rescheduling of the race], who is against it, why they are against it,” FIA Vice-President and United Arab Emirates Automobile Federation President Mohammed ben Sulayem told The National
newspaper. “We have some very strong decisions to make.”
Whilst conceding that he does not expect the date of the Indian Grand Prix to change from its projected 30 October slot, meanwhile, Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) President Vicky Chandhok – father of current Team Lotus reserve driver Karun – reflected that a season-closing role for F1's newest addition to the calendar could reap dividends, and that all measures are being taken to ensure the event is a resounding success.
“Personally, I feel – and I am being a bit selfish – December would be an ideal date considering it to be the concluding event,” he opined. “We could have a long weekend of awards ceremonies and all that comes with it. The weather would be great as well. However, 30 October is also a nice day. The championship fight could still be on. We are projecting India to the world, and if something went wrong, it wouldn't be nice. It's up to us to get it right.”
Meanwhile, Sameer Kumar of race organisers Jaypee Sports International Ltd is confident the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida will be able to attract other series' to sustain its usage year-long, claiming that 'we are in talks with various organisations, and plan to get more international races'.