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Ecclestone blames Bahrainis for US Grand Prix "ballbreaker"

NEWS STORY
05/08/2011

For the past week reports have been doing the rounds about a revised F1 calendar for 2012 which the sport's boss Bernie Ecclestone has distributed to the teams. They were miffed because the new calendar, which supersedes the one released in June by F1's governing body is rather gruelling to say the least.

It features seven Grands Prix in just ten weekends at the end of the season with six back-to-back races taking place in quick succession on different continents. The inaugural F1 race in Austin has been switched from a June date to November and it now takes place immediately before the season-ender in Brazil. According to an article in today's Financial Times, written by Pitpass' business editor Christian Sylt, Ecclestone says that this timing "is a bit of a ball-breaker because there are no flights that go direct from Austin to Sao Paolo." Perhaps surprisingly, Bahrain is to blame for the change that brought about this situation.

Ecclestone explains that he was forced to delay the date of next year's Bahrain GP after government officials objected to the race taking place in March. It has been moved to November which will give the Bahrain government more time to calm the troubled political situation in the country. The upshot is that the calendar announced in June had to bite the dust.

Protests by the Shia majority in Bahrain forced the crown prince, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, to postpone this year's race which was due to take place on 13 March. It was rescheduled for 30 October but the Bahrain International Circuit soon put the brakes on it taking place at all this year amidst concerns that the teams wouldn't attend.

In June the FIA announced that next year's Bahrain GP would take place on 11 March but Ecclestone says that the government has changed its mind yet again. "What has caused the trouble with the calendar is Bahrain because it should have been up the front but they didn't want it up the front," he says. Ecclestone adds that as a result of this he has "had to screw the whole calendar up." The new date for the Bahrain GP is 4 November 2012 which puts it three races before the finale.

A spokesman for the Bahrain International Circuit says it is "extremely happy to host the Grand Prix in November. Due to high temperatures in our summer, either early or late in the season is better. November is the best month for us."

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