Todt, Ecclestone wavering on Bahrain decision

By on Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Jun.7 (GMM) The first signs have emerged that the rescheduled 2011 Bahrain grand prix actually might not take place late in October.

The FIA decided controversially last week to put the troubled island Kingdom back on this year's calendar despite fears about logistics, politics and security.

Teams have vowed to discuss the decision amid reports of continuing violence in Bahrain, while angry protesters are calling for a race-day 'Day of Rage'.

FIA president Jean Todt met with reporters in Barcelona late on Monday and acknowledged that the race might not take place.

"If we have clear evidence that there is a risky situation, this will obviously be taken into consideration," he is quoted by the BBC.

Also wavering is F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, despite his earlier support for the rescheduling.

The Times quotes him as suggesting Bahrain should instead take the spot at the very end of the 2011 calendar so that F1 can assess before then if the situation in the Kingdom is actually "safe and well".

The newspaper said Ecclestone, a World Motor Sport Council voter, was not convinced by the report about the situation in Bahrain compiled after FIA vice-president Carlos Gracia's recent visit.

"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," said Ecclestone.

"If they are not (safe), 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," added the 80-year-old.

The Telegraph said the Briton has written to the 12 teams urging them to also express their concerns and demand the World Motor Sport Council take a new vote.

Alex Wilks - chief of the Avaaz pressure group - is also questioning Gracia's conclusion that all is well in Bahrain.

"The main organisation that has provided this information (to Gracia), the Bahrain-based National Institute of Human Rights, is closely associated with the Bahraini government and it appears the FIA investigator failed to contact any of the other key human rights organisations on the ground," he said.

Yet another potential problem is that while the FIA statement last Friday said the World Council had "unanimously agreed" to reinstate Bahrain, this actually appears not to be the case.

There are reports there was not a formal vote at all, but just a show of hands, with team bosses Stefano Domenicali and Vijay Mallya among those who agreed.

It is believed formal unanimity is required for calendar tweaks, but when asked on Monday if this is the case, Todt answered: "I couldn't say precisely.

"Was it 25 hands? 27? I saw all the hands up and said, 'Ah, unanimous agreement'. I pronounced it. And nobody objected. No one said 'I abstained' or 'I voted no'," the Frenchman said.

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