Who's to blame for the Bahrain GP controversy?

The Commercial Holder (headed by Bernie Ecclestone) is solely responsible for any change in the Formula One calendar and it should be done after getting an approval from the teams. So before proposing a change in the date for the Bahrain GP, wasn’t it Ecclestone’s responsibility to get the teams to agree to the rescheduled date? This should have been done before the World Council meet and not after a week of the race being reinstated.

Murali Sashidharan June 10, 2011 17:48:04 IST
Who's to blame for the Bahrain GP controversy?

The Bahrain Grand Prix controversy has finally come to an end with the promoters finally confirming that the race will not take place this year. Instead, it will now be held only next season. If this decision was taken last week, it would have resulted in one less controversy for the sport.

The first murmurs about the reinstatement of the Bahrain GP came about two weeks ago when Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone told CNN that the teams were happy to race in Bahrain despite the recent civil unrest and bloodshed that occurred in the wake of the Arab Spring. On Friday, June 3, 2011, the governing body's World Motor Sport Council met in Barcelona to vote and gave the green signal for the Bahrain GP to be reinstated and take place later this year.

Whos to blame for the Bahrain GP controversy

Is Bernie Ecclestone to be blamed for the Bahrain Grand Prix controversy? Mark Thompson/Getty Images

The Bahrain event was supposed to take the slot of the Indian GP in October with the latter being pushed to the season finale in December. Bahrain was to be the season opener and the decision to reinstate the race was met by criticism from the drivers and teams due to the political tension and safety fears in the region. In addition, Bahrain activists planned a 'Day of Rage' on the race day to protest the inclusion of the race.

This resulted in a dramatic u-turn by Ecclestone and former FIA President Max Mosley who both stated that the race would not take place as the teams were opposed to the idea. Mosley was the first one to state that the race would not go ahead without the approval of all teams.

I am not sure Mosley’s role here as he was the one who backed current FIA President Jean Todt to take his former role and his statements just undermine the FIA and Todt himself. After yesterday’s confirmation of the race not happening one wonders who is to blame for this blunder.

Ecclestone obviously wanted the race to go ahead this year judging by his comments prior to the World Council meet. For some reason he seems to have changed his tone now. The teams have been against rescheduling the Bahrain GP this season from day one and also made it clear in a letter to the FIA that they would not be able to reschedule their calendar on such short notice. This obviously left the FIA red-faced.

As FIA President Todt, rightly points out, the Commercial Holder (headed by Ecclestone) is solely responsible for any change in the calendar and it should be done after getting an approval from the teams. So before proposing a change in the date for the Bahrain GP wasn’t it Ecclestone’s responsibility to get the teams to agree to the rescheduled date? This should have been done before the World Council meet and not after a week of the race being reinstated. While the FIA and Formula One group puts the blame on the other, it is the sport which has suffered the most. Let us hope this is now behind us but I am sure it is just a matter of time before another controversy crops up.

This has also led to unnecessary confusion over the date of the Indian GP with some people fearing that the race might be postponed as the circuit would not be ready on time. However, my sources tell me that the circuit will be ready way ahead of time and there is also talk of having other races at the venue before the inaugural F1 race.

On a brighter note, the F1 circus heads to Canada this weekend and I strongly believe Sebastian Vettel’s domination will come to an end. Montreal, along with Spa and Monaco, is a favourite with many drivers. McLaren have always done well at Montreal and the  Gilles Villeneuve circuit is always a great track for overtaking. Lewis Hamilton in particular has excelled on this track and Jenson Button will be in a strong position here as well. Another team to look out for will be Ferrari and especially Fernando Alonso.

As this circuit is not used for racing during the rest of the year, tyre degradation is usually a big problem here. Last year, the Bridgestones created problems for the drivers, so this time we can expect more excitement with the Pirellis. The safety car almost always plays a role in the outcome of the race so expect the same again.

For the first time this season there will be two DRS zones rather than the customary one, so if you are a racing fan make sure you don’t miss this one!

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