F1's Ecclestone Calls For New Vote To Reverse Scheduling Of Bahrain Grand Prix
F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone held an “urgent round of negotiations last night to try to overturn the decision to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix,” according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. Ecclestone “called for a new vote ... to cancel the October 30 date handed out by the FIA as he launched an intense round of talks with the 12 Formula One teams.” The teams insisted that “they did not want the revised schedule" decided by the FIA after hearing evidence presented by FIA VP Carlos Gracia. Gracia, who was sent as a “special envoy” to spend a day in Bahrain, “reported on the four policemen killed in street riots and the 180 injured.” But he “made no mention of the estimated 32 dead protesters nor the 47 doctors and nurses detained and being tried under martial law this week for tending to injured demonstrators.” Gracia said there were no indications “of any problems or any reason why Bahrain’s grand prix should not return to the 2011 calendar.” His conclusion “is said to have swayed the 26 council members.” As FIA President Jean Todt yesterday “held court to justify the FIA’s decision, Ecclestone was at work behind the scenes in talks with teams, who are against the return of Bahrain in the October slot that was reserved for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix.” The India race now “faces being shunted to a December 11 date” by the FIA (LONDON TIMES, 6/7). In London, Tom Cary notes Todt “defended Gracia's report, saying that many accounts of alleged human rights abuses, such as one from a former member of staff at the Bahrain circuit, were untrue.” He also “denied there had been any commercial consideration to the decision.” It is “understood that only a unanimous vote can effect a change to the calendar, something which was necessary last Friday and may be again shortly” (London TELEGRAPH, 6/7).
SLOW MOVING: In Montreal, Randy Phillips notes “only one of 11 reserved-seating grandstands was sold out” for this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix as of yesterday afternoon. Octane Management National Press Officer Marie-Pierre Laflamme, whose company promotes the F1 event at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, said, "I can't say how many tickets have been sold up to now. Attendance (figures) only will be known after the weekend." Phillips notes attendance for last year's three-day race weekend “topped 300,000 for the ninth consecutive year." The ’10 event “was sold out the day before practice sessions began on Friday” (Montreal GAZETTE, 6/7).
SCHEDULE CHANGE: Todt said that F1 “will have 20 races next year and not the record 21 listed on a calendar published last week.” He did not say "which race might be axed although Turkey already has an asterisk against it.” Todt: "We don't know which one will go, but the world championship will be 20 races." REUTERS' Alan Baldwin notes the Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul on May 6 “was listed as subject to confirmation after being called into question when local organisers said it faced the axe because of a disagreement over payments to Ecclestone” (REUTERS, 6/7).