x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

More sense to open Formula One season in Bahrain, say organisers

Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, chief executive of Bahrain Grand Prix, believes timezone ideal to hold season's first F1 race.

Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, the chief executive of the Bahrain International Circuit, is proud to see the race return to the island nation.
Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, the chief executive of the Bahrain International Circuit, is proud to see the race return to the island nation.

MANAMA // Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, the chief executive of the Bahrain Grand Prix, said he was very proud to see the kingdom return to the Formula One calendar, but questioned the sport's decision to start the season in Australia rather than in the Gulf.

Bahrain was due to open the 2011 season before protests in the country forced the race to be postponed and then cancelled.

This year's season will start on March 16-18 in Melbourne, while Bahrain's event will be the fourth round of the calendar, taking place from April 20-22, less than a week after the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

"I think Formula One should start the world championship in a timezone that makes sense," Al Khalifa said. "We have a lot of support in Europe for our grand prix and to start in Australia, where it is 2am or 3am in Europe – that to me doesn't make sense.

"To start in Bahrain would have made sense because it is the perfect time. That to me is the strongest thing, you don't have to offer anything [financially]."

Al Khalifa said being positioned back-to-back with China was not ideal, but that he did not expect the event to suffer.

"Hosting the first race, you benefit obviously by people talking about you in the lead up to the start of the season," he said.

"Now we are going to be after China so our event will come into play only after the third round. For us, it is important to host the race and we plan to make it a success."

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