x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Ecclestone performs u-turn on Bahrain

11 of the 12 Formula One teams have voiced objections about going to Bahrain because of the civil unrest.

Bernie Ecclestone, right, has conceded defeat in attempts to stage the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Bernie Ecclestone, right, has conceded defeat in attempts to stage the Bahrain Grand Prix.

MONTREAL, Canada // Less than seven days since the governing body for world motorsport announced a unanimous decision to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix on to the calendar for this year’s Formula One calendar, Bernie Ecclestone, the sport’s promoter, has performed a remarkable about-face and said the race is now “not on”.

The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) decided during a World Motor Sports Council (WMSC) meeting last Friday in Barcelona that the postponed Bahrain race would be rescheduled to take place on October 30.

Following widespread criticism, both Jean Todt, the FIA president, and Ecclestone earlier this week reiterated their belief that the WMSC made the correct decision. However, Ecclestone yesterday said the race would not go ahead.

“Hopefully there will be peace and quiet and we can return in the future, but of course it’s not on,” Ecclestone told the BBC. “The schedule cannot be rescheduled without the agreement of the participants – they’re the facts.”

With the exception of Hispania Racing, 11 of the 12 marques under the umbrella of the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) wrote a letter to Ecclestone, the FIA and the Bahrain International Circuit informing them they did not want the rescheduled race to take place.

Max Mosley, Todt’s predecessor as FIA president, said FIA statutes rule that without written agreement from all 12 teams, a date change cannot occur midseason.

“Until the written agreement of the teams is forthcoming, you can’t actually change the date. It can’t be done,” Mosley said. Article 66 of the FIA’s International Sporting Code reads: “No amendments shall be made to the Supplementary Regulations after the beginning of the period for receiving entries, unless unanimous agreement is given by all competitors already entered, or by decision of the stewards of the meeting for reasons of force majeure [greater force] or safety.”

The teams have said they do not want to go to Bahrain on October 30. It is also understood they have called for the Indian Grand Prix, originally planned for October 30 but shifted to December, to be returned to its original date.

The decision to move India to a later date was opposed because teams are unwilling to extend the season while sponsors have also already arranged high-profile events for October.

The teams’ focus meanwhile will today shift back to on-track action as they prepare for Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix. The majority of teams have arrived in Montreal ahead of tomorrow’s first two practice sessions, but while Bahrain threatens to overshadow race, today’s FIA media conference should provide plenty of alternative angles.

Adrian Sutil is taking part in his first official news conference since he allegedly attacked Renault co-owner Eric Lux in a Shanghai nightclub.

Lewis Hamilton appears for the first time since he called Pastor Maldonado “absolutely ridiculous” and will be joined by Maldonado, while Sergio Perez, who is hoping to compete in this weekend’s race after suffering concussion following his high-speed crash in Monaco a fortnight ago, will also appear.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae