Organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix have admitted disappointment with being bumped from the head of the 2012 calendar.
Following the cancellation of its 2011 race and test over the civil unrest early last year, Bahrain was provisionally scheduled to return to F1 by opening this season’s championship. However, when the calendar was ultimately published, Bahrain was given a late April date, making it the fourth round after Australia, Malaysia and China. Reports at the time said Bernie Ecclestone had “responded to teams’ fears over the uncertain political landscape” in the island Kingdom.
So as F1 tickets go on sale this week, the Sakhir circuit’s chief executive admitted he is disappointed Melbourne will be kicking off the sport in less than a month’s time.
“I think Formula One should start the world championship in a timezone that makes sense,” said Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa. “We have a lot of support in Europe for our grand prix and to start in Australia, where it is 2am or 3am in Europe, that to me doesn’t make sense,” he is quoted by The National newspaper.
In addition to not being the season opener, Bahrain is also the second leg in a logistically-difficult ‘back to back’ pairing with China.
“Hosting the first race, you benefit obviously by people talking about you in the lead up to the start of the season,” continued Al Khalifa. “Now we are going to be after China so our event will come into play only after the third round. For us, it is important to host the race and we plan to make it a success,” he added.
The slogan for Bahrain’s 2012 return to F1 is ‘Unified, One nation in celebration”. On the continuing security fears in Bahrain, Al Khalifa insisted: “I don’t see an issue.
“Obviously, there are always concerns and the authorities are aware of that, but my main concern is that everybody is secure in and around the circuit and I am confident we can provide that.”