F1 Supremo, Bernie Ecclestone says a decision on the fate of the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix will have to be taken before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix at the end of the month, after it was postponed last week following civilian unrest in the Gulf state.
Progress on the issue is expected next week when the FIA's World Motor Sport Council meets on Tuesday, but Ecclestone has already hinted that the race could be rescheduled for August, during the three-week summer break.
“To [reschedule the race] the FIA has to change the calendar, and Bahrain has to apply for a new slot,” Bernie Ecclestone told F1.com. “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 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.”
Ecclestone dismissed criticism directed at him for failing to act quickly on the political unrest, insisting that Formula One must steer clear of politics at all costs. The race was eventually postponed by Bahrain's crown prince, as a result of pressure put on him by protesters.
“Formula One must never be political – full stop. My job is it to do the best deals possible for Formula One – to secure jobs,” continued Ecclestone. “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.”
The three-week summer break in August has become sacrosanct in recent years as the F1 calendar continues to grow and, at 19 or 20 races this year, will be as important as ever to ensure the entire paddock can rest and refresh for the final third of the season. As a result, there is likely to be considerable opposition against the move, meaning the next Bahrain Grand Prix may have to wait until 2012.