The situation over the reinstatement of the Bahrain Grand Prix has been thrown into some confusion by the intervention of Bernie Ecclestone, who appears now to be urging the teams to revolt against the FIA’s decision last week.
FIA president Jean Todt has explained that the federation acted on the basis of a report compiled by one of its vice presidents who visited the country. But human rights groups have suggested that the visit was largely conducted on the agenda of the goverment and didn’t dig deep enough into the situation on the ground.
Speaking last night to the media, Ecclestone suggested that Bahrain could switch to the final race in December. This ongoing confusion will dismay the organisers of the Indian Grand Prix and many fans, who have bought airline tickets to Delhi and now do not know whether to cancel or reschedule, if indeed they have that flexibility.
The teams have decided to act as a unit, via the umbrella of the Formula One Teams Association, rather than take individual positions on the issue. The team principals have been in discussion over the last 24 hours but no statement has been made yet.
But Ecclestone is understood to have contacted them all to suggest that they demand a fresh FIA vote. There appears to be a question mark about whether the FIA World Council’s vote last Friday was unanimous, which it would need to be in order to bring about a short notice change such as this.
“The way things are at the moment, we have no idea what is going to happen,” Ecclestone said. “Better that we move Bahrain to the end of the season and, if things are safe and well, then that is fine, we can go.
“If they are not, then we don’t go and there are no problems. We listened to that report from the FIA and that was saying there were no problems at all in Bahrain. But that is not what I am hearing and I think we can see that we need to be careful.
Ecclestone was also keen to point out that money was not his primary concern here.
“The money makes no difference,” he said. “It is there because the Bahrain people asked us to keep it. If there is no race, we will return it, but money is not the issue here. It is whether it is safe and good to have a race that is the issue. We can change this Oct 30 date by having a vote by fax if necessary. It can be done, and fast.”
Ecclestone’s long term ally and confidant Max Mosley has expressed grave concern about the Bahrain decision, even writing a column in Sunday’s Telegraph newspaper in England denouncing it and the Bahraini government.