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F1: Bahrain Official Slams 'Shameful' F1 Backflip; Webber Struggling With Pirelli Tyres Photo:

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Mike Stevens | Jun, 10 2011 | 1 Comment

Bahrain has hit out at Bernie Ecclestone's claim F1 can "of course" not return to the kingdom this year.

The government was delighted less than a week ago when the FIA World Motor Sport Council, including member and F1 chief executive Ecclestone, voted unanimously to reschedule the earlier postponed event to late October.

Ecclestone's about-face is apparently due to widespread opposition from the drivers and teams, as well as the sport's own rules about late schedule changes.

Referring to the 80-year-old's comments published on Wednesday, Bahrain chamber of commerce tourism chief Nabeel Kanoo said: "It is a shameful decision and smacks of hypocrisy.

"There was no reason to consider cancelling it," he told the Gulf Daily News.

F1 teams have been reluctant to wade into the political debate, arguing instead that their stance is due to having to postpone the December holidays of staff.

And Williams' chief executive Adam Parr told Reuters: "How do you say to people who have booked a two-week holiday in India to take in the Grand Prix, 'sorry you'll be in India but we won't'.

"We've explained out position and there's nothing more to talk about. It's just too late to change it."

Indian motor racing official Vicky Chandhok said the latest development, despite the official F1 website still showing a mid December date for the inaugural grand prix, will not affect Delhi's preparations to be ready for October as originally planned.

"We were working towards meeting the earlier deadline, and even when it was pushed back to December we didn't relax, so the return to its original date will pose no extra challenge," he told the Hindustan Times.

Speaking from Montreal, Renault tester Bruno Senna commented on the drivers' position to Globo Esporte.

"I love Bahrain and would love to go back, but while there was no minimal guarantee we would find a situation of calm, we should wait a little longer for a new edition of the race," said the Brazilian.



Todt tells Ecclestone to propose Bahrain solution

The FIA seemed ready on Thursday to overturn its decision to take Formula One back to Bahrain in 2011.

Following the withdrawal of Bernie Ecclestone's support for the Bahrain rescheduling, F1's governing body published letter correspondence between the FIA and the teams association FOTA.

FOTA's letter, signed by chairmen Martin Whitmarsh and Eric Boullier, said the new calendar was "unrealistic" for logistical and insurance reasons.

The letter also said F1 should only return to Bahrain "once the security conditions have been fully re-established".

FIA president Jean Todt responded by writing that it is the responsibility of F1's commercial rights holder, represented by Ecclestone, to "set the calendar and submit it to the FIA for approval".

"The FIA always has at heart the smooth running of the championship and the interests of the teams, and is always prepared to address any issues, however difficult," added the Frenchman.

"I have listened to your last-minute objections and have asked the commercial rights holder (Ecclestone) to re-examine his calendar proposal, and if necessary, to resubmit a revised proposal to the World Council."



Perez cleared to race in Canada

Sergio Perez has been declared fit to race in Canada this weekend.

The Mexican rookie was hospitalised for two days after his big Monaco qualifying crash, but he has since had a positive medical check in Zurich and been karting with his brother in his native country.

"I felt very good," said Perez, 21, referring to the karting.

He met with FIA medical representative Jean-Charles Piette at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Thursday and was cleared to drive this weekend.

Perez's Swiss employer Sauber confirmed the news.



Webber admits struggle with Pirelli tyre switch

Mark Webber has singled out tyres as the crucial difference between his stellar 2010 season and a drop of performance so far this year.

The Aussie ace, famous in the paddock for refusing to roll out "a shopping list of excuses", was speaking from the St Lawrence river as he did a day of kayaking ahead of the Montreal weekend.

"You'll never find me fishing. I need to push myself," he said.

He has sat in the sister Red Bull in 2011 while his teammate and reigning champion Sebastian Vettel won five of the six races so far.

"I hope I can continue my momentum of encouraging results and I hope to get my first win soon," he told rds.ca, "because I was winning quite often last year."

Once again explaining his reluctance to make excuses, Webber pointed to the tyres as a factor in 2011.

"They are very different and the drivers are very sensitive to that (change)," he said, referring to the switch from Bridgestone to Pirelli.

"It's like a golfer or a tennis player changing his equipment. When you're at this level and trying to gain an edge with tiny details, the small changes can make big differences.

"But it's up to the drivers to adapt," added Webber.

By the same media outlet, Vettel on Wednesday was asked what has made the difference for him in 2011.

"There is not one ingredient which, alone, turns the tide," the German insisted. "It is the details, the little things, that all come together to make a big difference."



Vettel's rivals need 'very good luck' - Ecclestone

If Bernie Ecclestone were to bet a few dollars of his fortune on the outcome of the 2011 title, he would safely back his young friend Sebastian Vettel.

The F1 chief executive is famously friendly with the 23-year-old German who last year became the sport's youngest champion and this year is running away with the spoils.

"Put it this way," Ecclestone, 80, told the German magazine Speed Week. "Someone else would have to have very good luck to win this world championship.

"When I look at the speed of his car, I think only his own teammate has a chance," added the Briton.

Vettel has won five of the opening six Grands Prix so far this season but there are more than a dozen to go.

"Until then, it's a long way to go," he is quoted by the SID news agency. "Last year we saw how quickly things can change."

Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko agrees: "Sebastian has a comfortable lead but there are 350 points to go."

In reality, Vettel is on target to set a new record for the earliest-decided title, with Michael Schumacher holding the current record for winning in 2002 with 6 races to go.

But he is cautious: "Anything - reliability, mistakes - can happen."

FIA president Jean Todt hopes so.

"It is obvious for the sport that it would be best to have a different winner at every Grand Prix, but he has done a great job and has a great talent," the Frenchman told Spain's Diario Sport.



Todt considered banning Hamilton after racial joke

Jean Todt has admitted he considered banning Lewis Hamilton for six races after the McLaren driver's racial joke two weeks ago in Monaco.

Enraged at having yet more penalties imposed by the stewards during the race weekend, Briton Hamilton - the 2008 world champion - joked that "Maybe it's because I'm black".

Fearing a disrepute charge, the 26-year-old returned to the street circuit late on Sunday to apologise to the FIA, and made a further apology in writing.

"Lewis wrote to me and I wrote to him," FIA president Todt told the Guardian.

"I did not advertise it. It's between him and the FIA. I could have asked our judicial court to address the problem. We never officially opened the case.

"Maybe it would have been a better decision to put him to the court. To ban him for six Grands Prix. But he wrote to me and I wrote to him and the thing is over," added the Frenchman.

He showed the correspondence to selected reporters earlier this week, and it demonstrated that Todt rebuked Hamilton in his letter but insisted the matter is closed.

"I am trying to maintain a good harmony amongst everybody," Todt is quoted by the Telegraph. "I have tried to avoid controversy. I could have leaked the letter but it's between him and the FIA.

"(In Monaco) my office was next to the stewards. Every time I went to see them I avoided making any comment. For me what Lewis said was unacceptable but I didn't want to overreact."



De la Rosa tips 'extremely interesting' Canada GP

Pedro de la Rosa has predicted a "very interesting" weekend in Canada.

In comments provided by his press office, the experienced McLaren reserve driver said the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a layout on which overtaking can usually be done "quite easily".

In 2011, the new 'DRS' adjustable rear wing system has debuted and for the Montreal race this weekend it will for the first time be deployed twice per lap.

De la Rosa, who has been working in recent days in the McLaren simulator, said Canada will be "extremely interesting for many reasons".

One reason is DRS, because its influence in Canada will mean teams take different approaches to set-up.

"We will have cars with a variety of (top) speeds depending on the aerodynamic settings. With DRS everything has changed so we won't know if teams are opting to have a fast car for the straights or for the curves," said de la Rosa.

And the 40-year-old Spaniard predicted qualifying to play a minor role.

"This is the circuit where the importance of grid position is probably least, so it's better to concentrate on having a fast and consistent car for Sunday."

Renault test driver Bruno Senna agrees that predictions for the weekend are difficult.

"Our car has been consistently among the five fastest in a straight line," the Brazilian told Globo Esporte when contemplating the long straights of Canada.

"But downforce is essential, especially for the chicanes. Therefore, it will remain very difficult to tackle the cars that are aerodynamically the strongest, like Red Bull and McLaren," added Senna.


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