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GP Week : Issue 120
F1 NEWS >> FIA reveals ‘time-line’ as Bahrain pulls the plug In the non-stop political manoeu- vring that surrounded the post- ponement, rescheduling, and cancellation of the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix, positions changed on a seemingly hourly basis. Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone was all for rescheduling the March race, but changed his tune in the light of serious criticism from fans, the media, and human rights organisations around the world. FIA President Jean Todt was left to face the global ire on his own, and Ecclestone’s Machiavellian machi- nations were viewed with grudging respect. But in the Montreal paddock this weekend, the FIA released a time- line of the events leading up to the Bahrain decision that showed Ecclestone was still pushing to hold the postponed race on 4 December long after he had criticised the FIA for their attempts to squeeze the event into an already crowded calendar. At the 3 June meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, “the WMSC approved by a unanimous vote the proposal submitted by the commercial rights holder for the Championship (represented by Bernie Ecclestone, who is also the representative of the Formula 1 Constructors, appointed by the World Council) to hold the GP of Bahrain on 30 October”. On 7 June, FOTA wrote to the FIA, emphasising the teams’ desire that the 2011 Bahrain race be cancelled. “ Whilst we support the idea of racing in Bahrain - a country that has always hosted us with enthu- siasm and warmth - once the security conditions have been fully reestab- lished, we feel that there are funda- mental issues linked to the logis- tics of reintroducing such a race as proposed that have to be consid- ered,” the letter, signed by Martin Whitmarsh and Eric Boullier, stated. “Finally,” FOTA wrote, “we would like to draw your attention to articles 65, 66 and 198 of the International Sporting Code that define the dead- lines for the publication of calendars for FIA Championships (art. 198), as well as the procedures for modifying the dates and venues of the events (art. 65 and 66) where the consent of all competitors is required.” On 9 June, the FIA responded to FOTA, saying that the responsibility for the calendar lay with Ecclestone. Also on 9 June, “the commercial rights holder proposed to the FIA that the GP of Bahrain be rescheduled for 4 December”. This date is signifi- cant, because Ecclestone had been publicly critical of Todt’s attempts to reschedule the race for over a week, while privately attempting to engi- neer the same result. Neither Ecclestone, Todt, nor the FIA have come out of the affair smelling of roses. The Bahrainis took it upon themselves to cancel the race on 10 June. ON Thursday evening in Montreal, 240 Formula One fans attended Canada’s first FOTA Fans’ Forum. The Montreal event was the second of its kind to be held by FOTA, following on from a successful London forum held in 2010. Fans were given the opportunity to engage with senior team personnel, drivers, and paddock figures, letting the great and the good of Formula One know what was important to their viewers. The 2013 engine changes were widely unpopular with fans, who were concerned about the potential lack of noise. The FIA came in for widespread criticism from those who felt that the key to Formula 1’s success was the ongoing technological arms race, and not its road relevance or environmental impact. The teams were widely praised for their efforts to involve fans using social media, but not everyone in the paddock is comfortable with the emergence of social technology. Williams’ Adam Parr said “I’m a bit old- fashioned; I don’t tweet and I’m not on Facebook. I struggle a bit with it because sometimes you can get a bit too involved in other people’s lives. I had a very inter- esting meeting in New York the day before yesterday with a fashion label and they said people like Burberry are using social networking almost exclusively now. It’s foolish to ignore it, but I struggle with it personally.” But most interesting were the comments from Ferrari PR Luca Colajanni, who was concerned about the proliferation of unsub- stantiated information found online. “We don’t let our drivers use Twitter because we don’t want them writing some- thing that can be misinterpreted,” Colajanni explained. “We want control and we need to find the right balance.” Those present praised some of this season’s rule changes. Both the DRS and the new Pirelli tyres were popular, with fans excited about a return to on-track action. But the stewards came in for some criticism, as it was felt they were heavy-handed in penalising the sort of racing incidents that make Formula One memorable. FOTA holds Canadian fan forum 11