Posts Tagged ‘Bernie Ecclestone’

Ecclestone and Todt have been at odds over race

Bahrain will not hold a Formula 1 race in 2011 after race organisers admitted defeat in face of the teams’ backlash at its reinstatement.

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone had already announced the race was now “not on” after a complaint from teams at the rescheduling of the event.

The World Motor Sport Council last Friday confirmed the event would be reinstated on the calendar for October 30 – replacing the Indian Grand Prix scheduled for that date – after it had been postponed in light of political unrest.

The backlash that has followed, though, has been considerable, with the teams in particular voicing their concerns for logistical and insurance reasons.

Zayed R Alzayani, chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit, has now conceded defeat on the issue.

“Whilst Bahrain would have been delighted to see the grand prix progress on October 30 in line with the World Motor Sport Council’s decision, it has been made clear this fixture cannot progress and we fully respect that decision,” said Alzayani.

“Bahrain has absolutely no desire to see a race which would further extend the calendar detract from the enjoyment of F1 for either drivers, teams or
supporters.

“We want our role in Formula One to continue to be as positive and constructive as it has always been,” he said.

Bahrain is scheduled to host the season opener for next season, but at this early stage there are no guarantees.

But, Alzayani added: “We look forward to welcoming teams, their drivers and supporters back to Bahrain next year.

The decision to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix on October 30 and move the inaugural Indian race to December 11, sparked outrage amongst teams who said it was a logistical nightmare.

The teams wrote to the FIA on Wednesday, outlining their concerns.

In a letter from FIA president Jean Todt to the Formula One Teams’ Association, the Frenchman criticised Ecclestone.

Todt claims it was Ecclestone’s responsibility “to perform all necessary due diligence in order to secure his calendar proposal to the World Motor Sport Council”.

Eric Boullier, Renault team principal, believes the whole saga surrounding the troubled Bahrain Grand Prix has damaged the sport.

“I am a young, inexperienced team principal, but I am pushing hard to do my best to help build F1 for the future,” he said.

“But obviously it is never good when you expect such reactions (as has been the case this week) when they happen.

“F1 is a non-political sport. We cannot do whatever we want because there are issues like this and we need to be a bit more cautious.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, also feels the events of the last few days have been badly handled.

“It’s unfortunate the issues that are currently going on there,” said Horner.

“Nobody foresaw the problems that have happened, but sometimes these things do happen.”

The issue is set to come up again, with Bahrain pencilled in to host the opening race of the 2012 season following the release of that calendar.

As far as Boullier is concerned, it is “a question of when and not if” F1 returns.

“I have nothing against Bahrain,” he added.

When asked whether March could be too soon, Boullier said: “I don’t know to be honest. I am not a magician.

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Bahrain may still be desserted in October

Ten F1 teams have written to the FIA today to demand the rescheduled 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix is cancelled again.

Last Friday the FIA announced theBahrainrace would go ahead on October 30 with the Indian Grand Prix moving back to December.  

The teams which are all members of FOTA – except Hispania – said in a letter that the addition of another race weekend is not feasible.

Earlier today it was thought that teams would accept the race takingIndia’s new date (December 11) but this move seems to suggest otherwise.

A FOTA spokesman would not officially give details of the contents of the letter, saying simply: “The teams expressed their views in a letter.”

The letter says that the idea of adding a 20th race in December would be “unbearable to our staff”.

December traditionally is the month of relaxation and finalising car production for the following season.

The complaint is understood to be one based on logistical grounds, rather than moral grounds given recent events inBahrain.

The race was due to be the season-opener in March, but was cancelled a month in advance due to safety fears.

The matter has become subject to parliamentary discussion in the House of Commons.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “Formula 1 has not done itself any good by what has been announced. The important thing is to encourage all sides to get back into a real dialogue.”

Sir Menzies Campbell, the Lib Dem leader, said the decision was “simply shameful”.

Max Mosley, former FIA president said the FIA is effectively powerless to stop FOTA’s demands because all teams must accept any planned changes to the F1 itinerary.

He told BBC Radio 5 live: “I will be astonished if the event goes ahead. I don’t think it will happen.”

Mosley appears to have an unlikely ally in Bernie Ecclestone who does not believeBahrainis in position to host a race in October.

He said he would prefer to move the date to the final weekend of the season – instead ofIndia.

But today’s move by FOTA is unlikely to herald such a move.

Alonso celebrates winning in Bahrain last year

The Bahrain Grand Prix will go-ahead this year following an unanimous decision by the FIA World Motor Sport Council.

The race will take place on 30 October, with the Indian Grand Prix moving to the second week in December.

But the decision is a contentious one with many of the teams and drivers speaking out against racing in the Middle East whilst protests are still taking place.

“When people in a country are being hurt, the issues are bigger than sport. Let’s hope the right decision is made,” said Mark Webber on Twitter, just hours before the decision was made.

Avaaz, an international campaign group with nine million members, had spent the past week lobbying against the possible rescheduling. 1996 F1 world champion Damon Hill backed their efforts.

Alex Wilks, campaign director for Avaaz, said: “Formula One’s decision is a kick in the teeth for the Bahraini people.

“The race will happen in a country where government troops continue to shoot and arrest peaceful protesters.

“Now F1, plus Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, and every other team will be directly linked with a bloody crackdown that’s ruined the lives of hundreds of innocent people.”

Pro-democracy demonstrations earlier this year led to the deaths of 30 people, with hundreds of protesters detained, many of whom still remain in custody, and the cancellation of the race.

Bahrain has since lobbied hard for their grand prix to return to the calendar, despite the apparent ongoing oppression of their people.

It was meant to host the season-opening race but had to postpone in light of the large security and safety threat.

Zayed R. Alzayani, chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit, said: “By the time the grand prix arrives we will be able to remind the world about Bahrain at its best.

But just because the race has been rescheduled does not necessarily mean that it will be a fully attended race with some teams reluctant to travel to the Middle East for both moral and insurance reasons.

A McLaren spokesperson said: “All FOTA teams (only Hispania Racing are not represented) acknowledge the decision made by the FIA World Motor Sport Council today.

“That decision is likely to be discussed internally within FOTA, and a more detailed joint position may be defined after those discussions have taken place.”