Formula One has to make a decision within weeks on the possible rescheduling of the Bahrain Grand Prix and a summer date has not been ruled out, commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said on Tuesday.
Bahrain had been due to host the season-opening race on March 13 but that was shelved after bloody unrest in the Gulf kingdom.
Ecclestone has said he wants to reschedule the race at Sakhir for later in the season if possible. “The FIA (International Automobile Federation) world council will meet at the beginning of March and could look into the situation,” he told the official formula1.com website.
“I have already spoken with FIA president Jean Todt about the possibility of finding a new date and we both agreed that a decision has to be made before the season starts.”
SEASON-OPENER IN OZ
The new season-opener will be the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 27. “We don’t need an alternative race anywhere in Europe or any other place. We need a race in Bahrain,” Ecclestone said when asked whether the only viable alternative would be in Europe for logistical reasons.
“If the Crown Prince is of the opinion that his country is able to host a race we will return to Bahrain. I think the teams are sensible enough even to race in Bahrain in the summer break, and despite high temperatures, because this is the way we can support the country.”
Formula One has a three-week shutdown scheduled for August, the height of the European summer, to give some respite to team employees and allow them to spend time with their families.
With Bahrain back on the schedule, the season would once again have a record 20 races.
Ecclestone also said he had no doubt that Michael Schumacher, Formula One’s most successful driver with seven championships and 91 race wins, could get back on top of the podium again if Mercedes gave him a competitive car.
World champion Sebastian Vettel got a clear nod over Australian team mate Mark Webber as the favourite for the title between the two Red Bull drivers, and Ecclestone also tipped him as a future Ferrari driver. “One day I do see him with Ferrari. In the life of every successful Formula One driver comes the moment when he wants to sit in a Ferrari,” said the 80-year-old, who has presided over the sport for decades.
WOMEN AT THE HELM?
The Briton criticised the new moveable rear wings as a system that “looks pretty dangerous” and again revived his idea of awarding medals instead of points to encourage overtaking.
Famously controlling, and with no visible heir apparent, Ecclestone suggested women could be running the sport in three to five years time.
SOAK THE TRACKS
He said another way of making races more exciting would be to soak the tracks.
“We always had the most exciting races in the wet so let’s think of making rain,” he said.
“There are race tracks that you can make artificially wet and it would be easy to have such systems at a number of tracks. Why not let it ‘rain’ in the middle of a race? For 20 minutes or the last 10 laps?
“Maybe with a two-minute warning ahead of it. Suspense would be guaranteed and it would be the same for all.”