Formula One: Ecclestone Performs U-Turn on Bahrain


Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone has said that he believes the Bahrain Grand Prix will not go ahead as planned on October 30 as the teams and drivers involved did not want to take part.

Ecclestone had been in favor of moving the race to October 30 after the season opener had originally been postponed because of unrest in the country.

But he agrees that the race cannot be held after 11 of the 12 Formula One teams voiced objections because the civil unrest was continuing in the Gulf country.

"Hopefully there'll be peace and quiet and we can return in the future, but of course it's not on," Ecclestone told BBC Sport on Wednesday.

"The schedule cannot be rescheduled without the agreement of the participants - they're the facts."

His comments come after the decision to put the Bahrain race on in October - and move the race originally scheduled for that date in India back until December - attracted widespread criticism.

Bahrain was reintegrated in the 2011 calendar by the sport's governing body the FIA at a meeting last Friday in Barcelona.

That move was condemned by teams and drivers and also by human rights organizations, who were unhappy with claims by the sport's governing body, the FIA, that the situation had returned to normal in Bahrain.

Former FIA president Max Mosley led a renewed chorus of objections to the controversial event taking place this year.

Mosley was supported by the F1 teams and drivers, many stating that they do not wish the race to happen while human rights are still being flouted in the Gulf kingdom.

Supporters of the Bahrain GP claimed it would be a step towards peace and reconciliation after last week's lifting of martial law.

More than 30 people have died in pro-democracy protests.

Mosley, who ridiculed the use of non-English and non-Arabic-speaking FIA vice-president Spaniard Carlos Gracia as a fact-finding special envoy in Bahrain, told the BBC: "I will be astonished if the event goes ahead. I don't think it will happen."

Mosley said the FIA did not have the authority to reinstate the Bahrain race, or make changes to the calendar, without the written agreement of the teams, led by the Formula One Teams Association.

"You need the written agreement of every team and I don't believe that is going to be forthcoming," said Mosley.

Mosley's successor as FIA president, Frenchman Jean Todt, said on Monday that the decision to reinstate Bahrain was taken only after Gracia reported the country was stable again.

This flew in the face of a statement made by international campaigning organization Avaaz on Tuesday.

Avaaz's campaign director Alex Wilks said FIA claims that 'calm has been restored and life is back to normal in Bahrain' were completely untrue.

"In the last week, the police have continued to use tear gas, rubber bullets and sound grenades to break up peaceful marches, killing and injuring dozens of people," he said.