Ecclestone in last-ditch bid for Bahrain
London: Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone moved to cancel the Bahrain Grand Prix from the 2011 calendar on Friday, but only after making a last-ditch attempt to keep the race alive.
The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) revealed in a chronology of events on their website (www.fia.com) that the 80-year-old had tried to keep the race alive with a new proposal only hours before the Bahrain authorities accepted it could not go ahead.
The FIA said Ecclestone had suggested on Thursday, a day after he had said it was `not on`, that the race be rescheduled for December 4.
That would have made it the season-ender, with India reinstated to the October 30 date it had relinquished for the Gulf kingdom.
The governing body then asked him for guarantees that such a change was acceptable to the teams and Bahrain organisers.
The head of the Bahrain circuit said in a statement later on Thursday that organisers accepted the race, postponed in March due to bloody civil unrest, had to be cancelled after teams opposed any rescheduling.
The FIA said Ecclestone had proposed finally on Friday reverting to the calendar published before the start of the season, with the inaugural Indian Grand Prix near New Delhi on Oct 30.
It said the 26 members of its world motor sport council had been asked to vote by fax by noon on June 14 at the latest.
The teams organisation FOTA, which represents 11 of the 12, had opposed the reinstatement of Bahrain on logistical and insurance grounds rather than out of any overt sympathy with rights campaigners.
"As we have been planning around the 30th October as the date for the Indian Grand Prix, a change of this date would severely undermine our scheduled transport plans," FOTA said in a letter to FIA president Jean Todt on Tuesday.
"Similarly, our sponsors, international media and fans have organised travel and accommodation for the Indian Grand Prix and changing it now would cause an unacceptable degree of disruption and cost."
Asked whether the U-turn on Bahrain and the months of uncertainty about the race had damaged the sport`s image, Ecclestone told autosport.com at the Canadian Grand Prix: "What was negative?”
"The only thing there was that we were trying to help Bahrain, who have been helpful to F1, and we were trying to stay there as long as we could," he added.
"I hoped we could get it sorted. I don`t know if there is peace there or not -- the FIA sent someone out to check and they said it would be all okay, but the teams had different information.”
"They have the right to say they don`t want to change the calendar."