Ecclestone calls for fresh vote on Bahrain GP issue

Max Mosley, former head of the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) and a long-time Ecclestone ally, also weighed in on Tuesday by saying the calendar could not be changed without the agreement of all the teams and the race had no chance of going ahead.

The FIA announced on Friday that Bahrain, first scheduled as the season-opener in March but postponed due to civil unrest, would be held on Oct 30 in place of the Indian Grand Prix.

The inaugural New Delhi event was moved to a date yet to be agreed as the last race of the season in December.

Ecclestone told the Times newspaper that it would be better to move Bahrain to the end of the season, and suggested a fax vote could be organised at short notice to overturn the International Automobile Federation (FIA) decision.

“The way things are at the moment, we have no idea what is going to happen,” Ecclestone said of the situation in Bahrain, where police continue to arrest Shi’ite protestors.

“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. If they are not, then we don’t go and there are no problems.”

Ecclestone took issue with the FIA, who declared Bahrain a safe destination after a fact-finding mission last week by their Spanish vice-president Carlos Gracia. “We listened to that report from the FIA and that was saying there were no problems at all in Bahrain,” said Ecclestone. “But that is not what I am hearing and I think we can see that we need to be careful.”

The decision to race in Bahrain has triggered widespread opposition, with human rights campaigners outraged by the move after anti-government protests prompted a bloody crackdown in the Gulf kingdom.

Formula One teams are also against extending the championship into December, while fans who had booked non-refundable flights and holidays to India for that grand prix stand to lose money.

Ecclestone said money, with the Bahrainis paying an estimated $40 million to host the race this year, was not the issue.

“It is whether it is safe and good to have a race, that is the issue,” said the 80-year-old. “We can change this by October 30 date by having a vote by fax if necessary. It can be done, and fast.”

Mosley, who left office in 2009 but remains influential within the FIA, agreed. “He (Ecclestone) is right. I don’t think there is the slightest chance the grand prix will actually happen,” he told BBC radio.

“Apart from anything else you cannot change the calendar, in the way that is proposed to change, without the unanimous agreement of the teams.”

The FIA said in a statement on Friday that the decision had been unanimously 'agreed' by the world motor sport council meeting in Barcelona.

Two team principals, Force India’s Vijay Mallya and Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali, attended that meeting.

FIA president Jean Todt could not confirm that there had indeed been unanimous agreement, however. “I couldn’t say precisely,” Tuesday's Daily Telegraph quoted him as saying. “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’.”

Meanwhile, Formula One will have 20 races next year and not the record 21 listed on a calendar published last week, according to International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Jean Todt.

The Frenchman, straying into an area normally controlled by the sport's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, could not say which race might be axed although Turkey already has an asterisk against it.

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