Formula 1 News

Ecclestone under fire in Bahrain debacle

FIA's Jean Todt is transfering the responsibility to the commercial right holders and his chief, the "supremo".
Thursday, June 9, 2011

MONTREAL, June 9, 2011 (AFP) - The International Motoring Federation (FIA) on Thursday heaped the blame for its controversial reinstatement of the Bahrain Grand Prix on F1's commercial ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone as the controversial race faced the axe.

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In an unexpected turn of events, the world ruling body for motor racing told him to sort out the mess and produce another revised 2011 race calendar as soon as possible.

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The FIA's stance was revealed in an exchange of letters published on their website in the wake of widespread protests at the prospect of Bahrain's race being reintroduced on October 30.

Earlier this week, the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) wrote to the FIA and Ecclestone, stating that it did not want the calendar changed at such a late notice.
In a reply, the FIA president Frenchman Jean Todt said: "I have listened to your last-minute objections and have asked the Commercial Rights Holder to re-examine his calendar proposal, and if necessary, to resubmit a revised proposal to the World Council."

Ecclestone, who had said earlier on Thursday that it looked unlikely that the Bahrain race could go ahead, is the rights-holder.

Todt made clear in his letter that he believes the blame for the current situation lies not with the FIA, but with Ecclestone for not having resolved the situation satisfactorily before last Friday's World Motor Sport Council meeting in Barcelona.

Todt wrote: "The Formula One World Championship is regulated by the Concorde Agreement, the provisions of which supersede the provision of the International Sporting Code (ISC).
"Under the Concorde Agreement, the responsibility to set the calendar and submit it to the FIA for approval rests solely with the Commercial Rights Holder (art 10 and Schedule 9 of the Concorde Agreement).

"Consequently, it is the responsibility of the Commercial Rights Holder to perform all necessary prior due diligence to secure his calendar proposal to the World Motor Sport Council."
He added that the issue of the Bahrain Grand Prix was also not a new problem because it had been on the agenda since March 8.

In a further swipe, Todt said Ferrari team chief Stefano Domenicali had voted in favour of the proposed calendar changes put forward by Ecclestone.

Todt said he hoped a solution to the controversy could be reached 'promptly.' In their letter, FOTA had told the FIA that its proposed rescheduling of the Bahrain Grand Prix was logistically unrealistic.
Earlier, the chief executive of the Williams team Adam Parr said: "It's not about whether the (Bahrain) race goes ahead, it's about whether we change the calendar at this stage of the season -- and that's what we've written.

"The issue that we're concerned about is that fans, sponsors, teams, have made logistic arrangements to be in India for a particular weekend, 30 October, and we've been presented with a calendar where it's on 11 December.

"How do you say to people who have booked a two-week holiday in India to take in the Grand Prix, 'sorry you'll be in India, but we won't'?"

"We've explained our position ... and there's nothing more to talk about. It's just too late to change it."

Parr's explanation supported the views of Mercedes team chief Ross Brawn who said it was asking too much of the teams to extend the season into December.

A final announcement confirming the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix is expected from the FIA this weekend during the Canadian Grand Prix which starts on Friday.

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