F1 holds breath before Bahrain decision

(GMM) The F1 world is holding its breath early on Friday as the sport considers returning to troubled Bahrain later this year.

Bernie Ecclestone wants the race's $40 million fee and said recently politics should not influence sport.

But that did not stop him hypothesizing about the reason for the kind of protests seen in Bahrain and elsewhere in recent months and days.

"Too many overeducated people," he told CNN earlier this week. "If we can find a way to do something about that then a lot of our problems will disappear."

It is believed the team bosses agreed during a meeting in Monaco last weekend that, on the grounds of logistics, they are uniformly opposed to the rescheduling in 2011.

That would give the FIA an easy reason to cancel the event but still support Bahrain's ongoing place on future calendars.

Privately, the sport's figures are also taking the political situation into consideration, like BRDC president Damon Hill, who thinks F1 should stay away on those grounds alone.

The team bosses and drivers, however, are largely keeping quiet — except Australian Mark Webber, who was a lone voice among his peers on Twitter late on Thursday.

"When people in a country are being hurt, the issues are bigger than sport. Let's hope the right decision is made," he said.

He is referring to Friday's World Motor Sport Council, and ahead of that Barcelona meeting Spanish official Carlos Gracia travelled to Bahrain to assess the latest situation there, according to Marca sports newspaper.

He will present his report to the FIA members and is understood to have concluded that the situation on the ground in Bahrain is very close to normal.

But human rights abuses have been reported and condemned during the turmoil, and the German newsmagazine Focus said F1's choice is a question of "morality or money".

Renault team boss Eric Boullier is quoted by DPA news agency: "I would be best advised to stay out of the political discussion."

Given Ross Brawn's view that a December finale is "totally unacceptable" for Mercedes' hard-working staff, the FIA has a non-political reason for saying no to Bahrain in 2011.

"There is no way we can get everything from Brazil to India in order to have the last two races consecutively, so the (proposed) date (for the finale) would be December 11, not the fourth, "and that is unthinkable," Renault sporting director Steve Nielsen is quoted by O Estado do S.Paulo.

Leave a Reply