Former FIA president Max Mosley has cast further doubt on the viability of the Bahrain Grand Prix, despite successor Jean Todt announcing the race's return to the 2011 F1 calendar.
The sport's governing body revealed last Friday that, after a lengthy period in limbo, Bahrain would indeed be reinstated on the schedule, with the inaugural Indian GP moving to an end-of-season December date to make room for it [HERE
]. Todt, announcing the reshuffle, quoted a report produced by vice-president Carlos Gracia, which claimed that the Gulf kingdom was now enjoying 'a stable situation', following several months of unrest and pro-democracy demonstrations.
Having already spoken out against the wisdom of returning Bahrain to the calendar [HERE
], Mosley has now voiced his reasons for believing that the event will again be scratched from the schedule.
"I will be astonished if the event goes ahead - I don't think it will happen," he told the BBC sport and current affairs channel Radio 5 Live
, "One thing that everybody seems to have overlooked is that the teams have to agree a change of calendar. You can't simply move the Indian race from one point to another without asking all the people who have entered. You need the written agreement of every team and I don't believe that is going to be forthcoming."
Indeed, the various FOTA members - which comprise eleven of the twelve teams currently taking part in the world championship - are due to discuss the situation ahead of this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix and are thought unlikely to reach a consensus in support of reinstatement. On top of that, Pirelli, which was present in Bahrain for the GP2 Asia weekend that coincided with the start of the military crackdown on protestors, is thought to be strongly against returning, even if there is still the best part of five months for the situation to improve.
While members of the ruling royal family and other prominent businessmen have gone on record as saying that the race will help to unite the population, the uprising appears to show no signs of abating, leading to reports of deaths and injuries as protestors clash with government forces. On top of that, there have been numerous cases of supporters of the opposition being removed from their jobs - including many at Bahrain International Circuit - and, worse still, imprisoned and subject to human rights abuses.
"There is a long way between now and [30 October] and we're confident that, by the time the race comes around, we'll have addressed a lot of the issues," Sheikh Mohammed Bin Essa Al-Khalifa, the head of the Bahrain Economic Development Board who played a key role in taking F1 to Bahrain in the first place, told BBC's Radio 4's Today
programme, "The grand prix is a uniting force and that is the view of the majority of people in Bahrain, including the opposition and we look forward to this race helping Bahrain deal with the issues it went through."
Despite the assurances, however, Bahrain appears to have lost a key ally in its fight for acceptance, with Bernie Ecclestone apparently calling for a rethink on the whole situation. This is in spite of the sport's commercial ringmaster having backed the reinstatement of the race just over a week ago [see story here
Now, with a revised calendar having been issued, and those involved in the sport having already begun to investigate another round of reworked travel arrangements, Ecclestone is both urging the teams to oppose the race and calling for it to be moved to the end of the season, no doubt because it would be easier to cancel it from there, rather than leaving a hole at the end of October with the teams expecting to head to India closer to Christmas.