Decision time for Bahrain F1
Manama, June 2, 2011
Formula One will decide on Friday whether to reschedule the Bahrain Grand Prix for later this season, after the race was postponed due to political unrest earlier this year.
Bahrain says the end of emergency law this week is a sign that things have gone back to normal in the country. 'Let's bring Bahrain Formula One back. Together we can,' signposts say in Manama.
The outcome of the FIA's world motor sport council meeting in Barcelona is far from clear-cut, even if many Formula One insiders question whether the race can be reinstated into the current championship.
Commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone has said he hopes the grand prix, originally scheduled as the March 13 season-opener, will happen and local organisers say they are ready to host it again.
Ecclestone, 80, and Bahrain's Shaikh Abdulla bin Isa al-Khalifa who heads the FIA's karting commission, are both on the 26-man motor sport council headed by president Jean Todt.
The biggest sticking point could be the calendar itself. To accommodate Bahrain, it has been suggested that the inaugural Indian Grand Prix be moved from its October 30 slot to Decemebr 11 -- the latest finish to a season since 1963 and a date too far for hard-pressed teams.
'It is getting too much,' Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn told reporters at the Monaco Grand Prix last weekend. 'Our guys have been working since January... and we are asking them to work into December and that means there is no time for a holiday before Christmas and that would mean getting straight back in to it in January.
'So personally I think it is unacceptable and we've told Bernie that and he knows our opinion... our people cannot be expected to work in that environment and situation, so I think it is totally unacceptable.'
Other teams such as McLaren, who have Bahrain holding company Mumtalakat as their biggest shareholder, and Ferrari have made clear that they have no objection to racing in Bahrain but question the timing.
Ecclestone has said repeatedly that Formula One is not involved in religion or politics and 'we don't make decisions based on those things.' - Reuters