Bahrain Grand Prix 'not on'

Formula One commercial chief says rescheduled race almost certain to be scrapped due to opposition from teams.

    Ecclestone with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber at the Sakir circuit in 2010 [GALLO/GETTY]

    The reinstated Bahrain Grand Prix is almost certain to be cancelled because of opposition from teams.

    Formula One commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone said on Wednesday that the constructors would not consent to race in the Gulf state following the government crackdown on public demonstrations.

    There was no immediate comment from the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA), while many team staff were travelling to Canada for Sunday's race in Montreal.

    "Hopefully there'll be peace and quiet and we can return in the future, but of course it's not on," the 80-year-old told the BBC on Wednesday.
    "The schedule cannot be rescheduled without the agreement of the participants... they're the facts."

    The race was originally scheduled for March 13 but had to be postponed due to civil protests. 

    The FIA said on Friday that Bahrain would be reinstated for October 30, a date originally assigned to India's inaugural race.

    The teams' written agreement is required for any date change.


    The decision to race in Bahrain triggered widespread opposition, with human rights campaigners outraged by the move after anti-government protests prompted a crackdown.

    The teams' body FOTA, which represents all those on the starting grid except tail-enders Hispania, said on Tuesday they had written to all parties concerned.

    "Formula One should only consider a return once it has been independently confirmed that torture and arrests of innocent civilians has ended and all political prisoners are freed"

    Alex Wilks, spokesman, Avaaz advocacy website

    "The teams have discussed the 2011 calendar within FOTA and have expressed their considered views privately in a letter to the FIA, FOM (Ecclestone) and BIC (Bahrain Circuit)," said a FOTA spokesperson.

    "It would be inappropriate therefore to comment further at this stage."

    A team source who declined to be identified told the Reuters news agency that the teams wanted India restored to its October 30 date and were against rescheduling Bahrain.

    Others described the letter as "polite but firm" and made clear the teams did not want to go to Bahrain.

    The decision to move India to a December date was also opposed because teams have already booked flights while sponsors have arranged high-profile events around the October race in New Delhi.

    Alex Wilks, from the advocacy website Avaaz, welcomed Ecclestone's words.


    "This is a victory for the brave activists in Bahrain, hundreds of thousands of Avaaz members and leading names in Formula One that have vehemently opposed it and forced this much needed U-turn," he said in a statement.

    "The horrendous crackdown on nurses, students, track workers and many others in Bahrain continues.

    "This decision should act as a wake-up call to the Bahrain authorities to stop the violence.

    "Formula One should only consider a return once it has been independently confirmed that torture and arrests of innocent civilians has ended and all political prisoners are freed."

    The FIA said in a statement on Friday that the decision had been unanimously 'agreed' by the world motor sport council meeting in Barcelona.

    Last week, Reuters reported that 28 out of 108 staff members of the state-owned Bahrain International Circuit, which hosts the Grand Prix, were fired from their work. All those fired were Shia Muslims, according to a colleague.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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