8 June 2011
FOTA objects to October Bahrain return
The eleven FOTA members have opposed the decision to reinstate the Bahrain GP in late October, having already made plans to head to India that weekend.
The F1 teams' association has protested against the reinstatement of the Bahrain Grand Prix, but has chosen logistical grounds on which to base its opposition, rather than the more obvious ethical questions that returning to the Gulf kingdom would raise.
The eleven FOTA member teams - Hispania is still holding out having quit last season - discussed the prospect of returning to Bahrain, on a new November date, prior to heading to Montreal for this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix, before writing to the sport's governing body, the FIA, to express its opposition. Instead of refusing to go to Sakhir because of the ethical and safety questions posed by the public uprising and pro-democracy protests that saw the season-opener cancelled in March, however, the body said that expecting the teams to rearrange travel plans to incorporate Bahrain in a slot previously allocated to India, and then travel to New Delhi in December, was out of the question.
"Following the announcement by the World Motor Sport Council of the revised calendar for the 2011 FIA F1 World Championship, on behalf of all teams belonging to FOTA, we would like to state that the amended 2011 calendar is unrealistic.
"Whilst we support the idea of racing in Bahrain - a country that has always hosted us with enthusiasm and warmth - once the security conditions have been fully re-established, we feel that there are fundamental issues linked to the logistics of reintroducing such a race as proposed that have to be considered.
"As we have been planning around the 30 October as the date for the Indian Grand Prix, a change of this date would severely undermine our scheduled transport plans. Similarly, our sponsors, international media and fans have organised travel and accommodation for the Indian Grand Prix and changing it now would cause an unacceptable degree of disruption and cost. Most importantly, the addition of the Indian race to the calendar for 2011 was a fantastic development for the sport and it is critical that we do not undermine its success by these changes.
"With regard to holding a race in Bahrain this year, we also have been warned that insurance coverage could not be necessarily granted and this is an additional cause of concern for us. We would also like to highlight that an extension of the 2011 F1 season in December could also prove unbearable for the staff of a vast majority of the teams and it would conflict with our other internal activities already scheduled for that month.
"Finally, we would like to draw your attention to articles 65, 66 and 198 of the International Sporting Code that define the deadlines for the publication of calendars for FIA Championships (art. 198), as well as the procedures for modifying the dates and venues of the events (art. 65 and 66) where the consent of all competitors is required.
"We are, of course, willing to discuss all other aspects of the calendar with the FIA and the Commercial Rights Holder and look forward to doing so very soon. In the meantime, we trust that you will appreciate the necessity of reconsidering the calendar proposed for the remainder of the 2011 F1 season. We look forward to hearing your considerations and suggestions on these issues."
The objection is still awaiting a response from the FIA, while Bahrain continues to occupy the 30 October slot.
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