Bahrain has played down claims it asked for a later race slot on next year’s calendar due to continuing civil uncertainty in the troubled island Kingdom.
The 2011 grand prix was cancelled altogether due to the protests and the government’s reaction, but Bernie Ecclestone duly scheduled Bahrain’s return next year at the head of the 2012 calendar.
The updated provisional calendar circulated in the Hungaroring paddock last weekend, however, showed Bahrain shuffled down the order to November.
A report in the Financial Times on Thursday said the government “asked for more time to calm the country’s troubled political situation”.
“They didn’t want it up the front so I’ve had to screw the whole calendar up,” said F1 chief executive Ecclestone.
A spokesman for the Bahrain International Circuit, however, played down the link between the later race date and the political situation.
“We are 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,” he said.
But the revised calendar has upset the teams, who are concerned that seven races on four separate continents have been scheduled within an arduous ten-week period at the end of next season.
Ecclestone slammed the suggestion he is under pressure to tweak the order but admitted the US/Brazil back-to-back is “a bit of a ball-breaker because there are no flights that go direct from Austin to Sao Paolo”.
However, that pairing may be in doubt due to the fact government funding for the Texas event can only be distributed a year in advance — meaning that construction of the Austin circuit might have to be delayed for now.
A spokesman for the Texas comptroller dodged the question when asked by the local Austin American Statesman.
“While we have heard rumours on the date change, among others, we really aren’t going to speculate on the course of action for each possible situation,” he said.