Bernie Ecclestone willing to give Bahrain more time
Bahrain could get more time to decide if postponed grand prix can be held later in the season
Bahrain could be given more time to decide whether it can host its postponed grand prix later later this season, Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has revealed.
Organisers had been given a 1 May deadline from the sport’s governing body, the FIA, to decide whether the race could be rescheduled, but with the country still embroiled in civil unrest, an extension is expected to be granted beyond the end of this week.
“We need to wait a little bit to see exactly how progress is made,” Ecclestone told Reuters. “I suppose we’d be safe by early June or something like that.
“Things can change in a couple of weeks, so you don’t know. All of a sudden everything might be peaceful in a month’s time and they are happy to run the event and so we are happy to be there.”
The race at Sakhir, which was due to open the 2011 season on 13 March, was postponed amid violent anti-government protests in the Gulf kingdom, with activists threatening to use the race to highlight their cause against the Sunni royal family.
Last Friday, an open letter to Ecclestone appeared on social networking website Facebook asking the 80-year-old “to consider the challenges to organise what should be a happy sporting event in the middle of a country under siege and martial law, surrounded by tanks and military forces, while the population is being reduce to silence, killed, tortured, ect [sic]….”
The letter also asked Ecclestone to “reconsider hosting Grand Prix of Bahrain until basic human rights and freedom are restored, and, if you wish, to issue a letter stating that the Grand Prix cannot, and will not, be organized in Bahrain until basic human rights and freedom are restored, and the repression is over.”
Earlier this month, organisers were still hopeful of hosting a race in 2011 with a date in November between the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and end-of-season Brazilian Grand Prix being mooted as the most likely option.
“We are in constant contact with concerned authorities to reschedule the Bahrain Grand Prix 2011,” said Bahrain International Circuit chief Sheik Salman bin Isa al-Khalifa.
“Now that security has prevailed and normal life has returned to Bahrain, we are stepping up contacts to host the race anew.”