Time for teams to end Bahrain row and take a stand

Posted on June 7, 2011

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Formula One’s hand wringing over whether to race in Bahrain in 2011 is moving from frustrating and disappointing to the downright farcical.

Formula One should not be going back to Bahrain. Credit: Mercedes GP

After spending months talking up the prospects of rescheduling the race, talking about how the people running Bahrain are “all nice people”, Bernie Ecclestone has (£) today told the The Times he is urging FOTA to demand a new vote and reverse last week’s decision.

Ecclestone’s comments follow Jean Todt last night telling the BBC that the situation would be monitored right up to the race and the decision could still be changed, again.

All of this follows days of criticism of the FiA for announcing on Friday it would reschedule Bahrain for October 30, shunting the inaugural Indian Grand Prix to the end of the season.

It is  a truly extraordinary sight to see Ecclestone and Todt back-pedalling so fast. Did they really think they would be able to make this decision and have it be accepted? The warnings were there in advance from many sides – and the condemnation from Damon Hill, Mark Webber and Max Mosely have just been the most high profile.

Most fans did not want to see the race scheduled this year and the teams made clear in advance racing into December was not an option – even before the moral objections are considered.

The lack of foresight on behalf of the FiA is staggering. I don’t believe the race in Bahrain will go ahead in 2011 and that’s been true both before and after Friday’s decision. Why go through this ridiculous process of public outcry?

With the comments made, we are a third of the way through the season and we don’t know how many races there will be, when the season will end or the date of at least two races. How can the teams plan a championship campaign? And how can the fans make plans for the Indian race?

The teams can and should put their foot down. The Bahrain race can’t go ahead if the teams refuse to go and FOTA should make a clear statement to that effect, before the Canadian Grand Prix this weekend.

UPDATE 10.10pm: It is clear tonight FOTA has told the FiA they oppose going to Bahrain this year. In a private letter, the 11 teams have called for the Indian race to happen as scheduled on October 30.

It’s the right decision. There can be no race without the teams and the teams won’t go. It’s just a shame we’ve had to go through the farce of the past few days.

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