Bernie Ecclestone says that the World Motor Sport Council will decide soon on the fate of the 2011 Bahrain GP – and even hints that it could be run in the August summer break.
A race in the break – when F1 factories are closed and mechanics get their only chance for some family time off – is unlikely to go down well with the teams.
It remains to be seen whether he is attempting to wind up the teams, and perhaps his true intention is to find an end-of-season slot.
Speaking about the rescheduling to the Formula One website, Ecclestone said: “To do that the FIA has to change the calendar, and Bahrain has to apply for a new slot. The FIA World Council will meet at the beginning of March and could look into the situation. I have already spoken with FIA President Jean Todt about the possibility of finding a new date and we both agreed that a decision has to be made before the season starts.
“We don’t need an alternative race anywhere in Europe or any other place. We need a race in Bahrain. If the Crown Prince is of the opinion that his country is able to host a race we will return to Bahrain. I think the teams are sensible enough even to race in Bahrain in the summer break, and despite high temperatures, because this is the way we can support the country.”
Regarding the delay over the decision to cancel (he used that word rather than postponed), Ecclestone said it was in the hands of the Crown Prince.
“Shortly before the crisis I had lunch with the Crown Prince and there was absolutely no indication of what would come just days after. He was full of ideas for the future then shortly after the chain of events set in. There was almost no time to react. Of course we needed a decision by February 21, and that is what I told him.
“He asked what I would do if I were him, and I answered, ‘You are there. We in Europe are hardly in the situation to make a serious judgment of the conditions. Decide what is best for your country’. He then cancelled the race and I think it was the right decision. It was not an easy one, as it was Formula One that put Bahrain on the map. Before 2004 – when Formula One raced there for the first time – not many people knew Bahrain.”
Despite saying that the race must go ahead to “support the country,” Bernie insisted that the sport should stay out of politics.
“Formula One must never be political – full stop. My job is it to do the best deals possible for Formula One – to secure jobs. Five thousand people have jobs which are directly or indirectly connected to Formula One, and I want to secure these jobs. It is not my business to make politics. We have politicians for that.”