Ecclestone waives Bahrain fee

Wed, 23 Feb 15:56:00 2011

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has waived rights fees due from Bahrain Grand Prix organisers after the season-opening race was called off because of unrest in the Gulf Kingdom.

- 0

"The fee that is normally being paid for the event is not being paid," Ecclestone told the Daily Telegraph newspaper on Wednesday.

"I am not charging them for a race they are not getting. Whether they are covered by their insurers for loss of revenues, ticket sales etc, I am not sure. But if anything is force majeure then that (the unrest) is.

"It is similar to if an earthquake had struck. No-one could have foreseen that a month ago."

Ecclestone's action, unusual for a man known to drive a hard bargain, means Formula One Management stands to lose tens of millions of dollars if the race cannot be rescheduled later in the season.

"Nobody gains from this," the 80-year-old told the Times.

"I want to be loyal to the King, because he is doing everything he can to put things right with his people. He doesn't need people like me stabbing him in the back."

Australia will now host the season-opener on March 27 after the March 13 race at Sakhir had to be postponed.

Rescheduling could be tricky, with this year's calendar supposed to have a record 20 races, but a slot towards the end of the year looks most likely - providing the situation in Bahrain calms down.

Abu Dhabi is due to host the penultimate round, after being the 2010 season-ender, on Nov. 13 before Brazil on Nov. 27. The Indian Grand Prix is before Abu Dhabi on Oct. 30.

The free weekends either side of the Abu Dhabi race therefore open up the possibility of a Middle Eastern double-header.

Mohammed ben Sulayem, president of the UAE Touring Club and a senior figure in the governing International Automobile Federation, said Abu Dhabi would be accommodating and a rescheduling was possible.

"Finding time in the calendar is feasible," he told Abu Dhabi's The National newspaper.

"Originally Abu Dhabi and Bahrain agreed to have a big separation on the calendar to make the most of the exposure that a grand prix brings. However, this is an emergency and in an emergency we need to work together.

"Stability is the most important factor at this stage. But once it returns then we will push to bring the race back, because we know they would do the same for us."

Reuters

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account