Mike Stevens | Jun 17, 2011

The 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix saga has come to an end with the FIA confirming that Sakhir will not host a race later this season.

Without actually mentioning the troubled island Kingdom, the governing body said a fax vote of the World Motor Sport Council had ratified the calendar that was "originally proposed" for the 2011 world championship.

The FIA said the vote was "unanimous", even though the same word was used for the recent reinstatement of the Bahrain race for 30 October.

However, India will now host its inaugural Grand Prix on its original 30 October weekend, with the season ending a month later rather than in mid December.

Bernie Ecclestone revealed to the Independent newspaper that Bahraini officials travelled to Montreal last weekend to urge the F1 chief executive to consider rescheduling the race for 30 October, or 4 or 11 December.

"I told them that I thought withdrawing was the easiest way to handle the situation," he said.

Bahrain will however be involved with the 30 October race this year, with the Sakhir circuit's medical team tasked with training and assisting its Indian counterparts, according to the Gulf Daily News.

(GMM)

 

Ecclestone and others defend aggressive Hamilton

Bernie Ecclestone has leapt to Lewis Hamilton's defence amid criticism of the 2008 world champion's recent driving tactics.

Commentators including Niki Lauda have harshly criticised the 26-year-old for his recent aggressive driving, including crashes and controversy at the most recent Grands Prix in Monaco and Canada.

But F1 chief executive Ecclestone insisted: "People have been wrong to rubbish Lewis.

"What we want is people racing, and all the people who watch it want that," he told the Independent.

Hamilton's boss Martin Whitmarsh also urged Hamilton, who collided with his teammate Jenson Button in Montreal, to keep racing rather than worrying too much about crashing.

"If he holds hold back for fear of having contact then he won't be the great racer he is and do the job he has to do," said the McLaren team principal.

Former F1 driver Jos Verstappen wrote in his De Telegraaf newspaper column that the criticisms of Hamilton in recent days have been "exaggerated".

"He has had two unfortunate races, but each incident must be viewed separately," said the Dutchman. "In Monaco with Felipe Massa, he did something stupid.

"But the collision with Button last Sunday was not Hamilton's fault. I could understand his overtaking attempt there and Button could have given him more space.

"Despite all the commotion Hamilton is a great driver. He just needs to empty his head now and get luck back on his side," Verstappen said.

Christian Klien thinks there is no chance Hamilton will change any time soon.

"He is just a very aggressive driver; a thoroughbred," the Austrian told Red Bull television Servus TV. "We (F1) need that and it's because of that many races are so exciting."

(GMM)

 

Schumacher to discuss future 'at right time'

Not long after some were calling time on Michael Schumacher's poor comeback, the seven time world champion raced almost to the podium in the chaotic Canadian Grand Prix.

"That's sport; the situation changes quickly," said Mercedes' motor racing vice-president Norbert Haug.

"It showed he can still do a good job if we can give him the right car," the German is quoted by Italy's Tuttosport.

Haug told L'Equipe: "It's like what happened with his brother Ralf in DTM. He had a lot of criticism but is now doing good results."

Indeed, during the weekend at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve rumours abounded that Schumacher, 42, was set to sign a two-year extension to his current contract, which is set to expire at the end of next season.

The rumours were based on the German's claim that it will probably be after 2012 that Mercedes will reap the benefits of the groundwork being laid now.

"I heard the speculation and it was an interpretation of my comments," said Schumacher. "I still have the three seasons to complete and will decide my future soon also on the basis of the results."

Also on his "five years" comments, L'Equipe quoted Schumacher as saying: "It (a contract extension) is not what I meant.

"At the right time we will talk about the future."

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said he had noted Schumacher's performance in Canada, in which he came the closest so far to securing a comeback podium.

"I find it incredible that in a year in a half he has failed to do so," the Italian told Sky Sports 24.

"I was pleased to see him up there and do not forget all that he gave to us," said Montezemolo.

(GMM)

 

McLaren hoping to benefit from blown exhaust ban

McLaren is hoping the blown exhaust crackdown gives the MP4-26 a big performance boost in qualifying.

With their race pace now close, McLaren believes a big reason for its qualifying deficit is due to Red Bull's perfection of the blown exhaust strategy on Saturday.

"It's quite possible we will close up in qualifying by half a second (if there is a ban)," McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

Jenson Button told Blick: "They (Red Bull) use the exhaust gases into the diffuser non-stop on a qualifying lap, but not in the race."

The FIA's intention to clamp down on the technology for Silverstone in mid July will be discussed between bosses and Charlie Whiting on Thursday in London.

It has even been rumoured that Red Bull is not ruling out challenging the FIA's decision.

"This is about an interpretation of the rules," said Force India's Otmar Szafnauer.

"If the interpretation is different to the FIA, the teams can appeal, but on the other hand the court's ruling will be the interpretation of the federation."

Red Bull's Adrian Newey has expressed surprise and anger that the FIA seems to be pressing ahead with a mid-season technical rule change on the grounds of something other than safety.

But a Pirelli source told O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper: "The (Red Bull) exhausts are too close to the tyres."

The source said teams have been told that, on safety grounds, there should be at least a 40cm distance between the exhausts - producing on average 700 degrees C - and the tyres.

(GMM)

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