Bernie Ecclestone has given a strong hint that the postponed 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix will be rescheduled when the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) meets to discuss the beleaguered race's future on Friday - but teams remain unhappy about the potential ramifications of stretching the season out even longer.

After the governing body's initial deadline of 1 May came and went without any kind of resolution, a new date of 3 June was set to determine whether or not the Bahrain Grand Prix - unable to host the F1 2011 curtain-raiser as it should have done on 13 March due to civil unrest and violent political protests that ultimately culminated in martial law being imposed - can be accommodated later on in the year.

At least 29 people have died in three-and-a-half months of rioting in the desert kingdom, but the state-of-emergency declared back in March is set to be lifted today - even though many contend the turmoil is far from over. Bahrain's ruling Crown Prince has vowed to listen to both domestic and international concerns and has insisted that he is committed to reform.

Musing that the catalyst for the troubles was much as it had been in fellow Arabic nations like Egypt and Tunisia - singling out unemployment and a lack of opportunities as the overriding bugbears - Ecclestone suggests a return to the calendar for Bahrain is now on the cards.

"I think it started there for the same reason it did in Tunisia," F1's influential commercial rights-holder told CNN, "and it becomes catching - 'why don't we do the same?' The guys go to college, they're there until they're 20 or 23-years-old, spend all their life trying to do something. They achieve and then they can't find a job, so they get a bit upset and I don't blame them.

"If there's peace there and they (race organisers) are happy, we're happy to compromise and make things happen for them. I think the teams are happy. If it's safe and everything is good, then I think the teams will be happy to support it. We've always tried to keep out of politics and religion and things like that."

Bahraini officials are adamant that they are now ready to welcome F1, with the most likely scenario being a 20 November slot, a week after fellow Middle Eastern race Abu Dhabi. That would necessitate the season finale in Brazil being moved back by a week to 4 December, whilst it has alternately been mooted that the inaugural Indian Grand Prix may need to be delayed until 11 December to allow for Bahrain to be parachuted into its place on 30 October.

"We feel we are in a position to have the event back," assured Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) chairman Zayed Rashid Al Zayani. "There are many factors involved, [but] we are hoping for the best and would like to have the race back.

"Things have calmed down tremendously in Bahrain. Life is back to normal. We are happy to have the race anytime really. We went through a rough patch, and we need nice moments in our history now for the nation. F1 has always been a time where Bahrain showcases itself to the world not only as a sports arena but as a society, a community that Bahrain as a nation has to offer. F1 can bring back joy to the country."

The sport's teams, however, remain opposed to the idea of a later finish to the campaign due to logistical problems that such a shift would cause and the toll that it would take on mechanics and engineers who by then will have been consistently on-the-road since January.

"It is getting too much," stressed Mercedes Grand Prix team principal Ross Brawn. "Our guys have been working since January, we don't have test teams anymore, so the same guys have been working since January and we are asking them to work into December. That means there is no time for a holiday before Christmas, and that would mean getting straight back into it in January.

"We've told Bernie that, and he knows our opinion. If we continue to take those sorts of approaches, then we will run into problems because our people cannot be expected to work in that environment and situation, so I think it is totally unacceptable."

"What we discussed was related to the possibility of a calendar that will be presented to the WMSC that will shift the last date not to the first week of December, but the second week," added Ferrari counterpart Stefano Domenicali, speaking to SPEED TV. "This is quite a tricky calendar, I might say. We need to see if the logistics of all of this can be sorted out.

"Ferrari wants to go to Bahrain for the future, for a long time. We feel Bahrain is a race where F1 has to go. We need to work together with them to see if for the benefit of being there for a really long, long time it's good to make a choice for this year, or wait and see."

Another issue is from the ethical and moral point-of-view, with claims that almost a quarter of staff at the Sakhir circuit have been arrested and either suspended or sacked [see separate story - click here] - and question marks about F1's image should it choose to effectively endorse a regime that has reportedly been oppressing its own people. Whichever way the WMSC's decision goes, it will make for a powerful political statement.



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