Organisers of the United States and Bahrain Grands Prix have professed themselves satisfied with their new end-of-season slots on the F1 2012 calendar.
In the original draft schedule released by the FIA just over two months ago, Bahrain was slated to host next year's season-opener in March, with the inaugural race around the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas pencilled in for June.
However, with the former asking for more time to be able to resolve its ongoing political problems and civil unrest that forced the cancellation of the 2011 curtain-raiser, and the latter protesting about the excessive summer temperatures that would be encountered, both have now been shifted back several months to November [see separate story – click here
]. It is a compromise that has seemingly appeased all parties.
“We are extremely happy to host the grand prix in November,” a spokesman for the Bahrain International Circuit at Sakhir told the TradeArabia News Service
. “Due to high temperatures in our summer, either early or late in the season is better. November is the best month for us.”
“They (Bahrain) didn't want it up the front, so I've had to screw the whole calendar up,” the sport's commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone told the Financial Times
in characteristically forthright fashion. “Before that, there was a draft. [The FIA] were the ones who published it as if it was the final one. We have, for example, moved Austin to November because it's 40°C in the summer.”
Although the Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive stresses that the primary concern was to avoid a repetition of the kind of issues suffered in Dallas back in 1984 – when the track surface began cracking up in the intense summer heat – there is also speculation that the US Grand Prix has been delayed to allow for construction of the new facility to be completed in time.
“I have been hoping for a late-season race date since this project began,” confessed United States Grand Prix chairman Tavo Hellmund, “and I see this as a very positive sign from F1 that it wants its US event to be an over-the-top success.
“Mr. Ecclestone has dozens of competing issues to consider when it comes to the race calendar. He has to balance the interests of the teams with those of the promoters, and even consider the unique situation of each host country. To put our race near the end of the schedule puts us in a prime spot to welcome the world next year – and I could not be more personally and professionally appreciative.”
“[Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell's] input regarding Central Texas' air quality during the summer months was obviously important to Formula One Management, and to their credit, they listened and have responded,” added Circuit of the Americas president, Steve Sexton.
“First-and-foremost, we want our fans to have a great experience when they come here. The prospect of milder weather makes that more likely. It also gives us time to better prepare our staff and the thousands of volunteers who will be supporting F1 race week festivities.”