The F1 calendar…

The cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix is going to make life difficult for the Formula 1 circus, if Bernie Ecclestone wants to try and put the race back on the calendar later in the year, as is being suggested. The F1 calendar is already chock-a-block this season, with only the summer break providing any real time, but the teams need a summer break, if only because people are going to start keeling over if they do not get time off – that is if they are not in the divorce courts by that point…

There were 20 planned races this year and with Bahrain dropping out it means that, in effect, Ecclestone is looking for a 21st date and while it might seem logical to slide Bahrain into the calendar at the end of the year alongside Abu Dhabi, there are a number of good reasons why that is not going to happen. For a start, Abu Dhabi will not want a regional event taking away from its ticket sales – or its glory, come to that. These emirates and kingdoms in the Gulf are a competitive lot and Bahrain got to F1 before Abu Dhabi, much to the chagrin of the richer UAE establishment. So there is nothing in it for Abu Dhabi. In any case, taking the F1 calendar into December is not going to go down well with the teams, who need time over the winter to build new cars and do not want to have to employ two different crews to go racing, which would add to the expense at a time when everyone is supposed to be talking about cost reduction.

The option would be to take out a race that has not paid its bills. One thinks specifically of Valencia, but Bahrain in June will be hot – and, frankly, there is no guarantee that the current pushing and shoving will be completed by that point. Some are suggesting that India could be pushed back to 2012, but from what I hear the India GP circuit is ahead of schedule. Getting rid of Turkey might also be a nice idea but again it is too early in the year to be certain that Bahrain will be available.

The sensible thing would be to quietly forget about Bahrain this year, but then one supposes that some money would not change hands. Whether this is covered by insurances and so on is hard to say, and it is difficult to know whether the insurance would work with a force majeure situation.

43 thoughts on “The F1 calendar…

  1. I’m happy that the people in the Middle-East are fighting for their rights… but I can’t help but feel a little selfish that F1 is getting a delayed start this year… It would be great if they could just sort out a change of venue. I know that is $$ tho

  2. I suspect that Bernie & Co. won’t be out of pocket on this.

    His statement opened “It is sad that Bahrain has had to withdraw from the race,” so by making the hosts cancel rather than cancelling it himself will kick in all kinds of penalty clauses…

  3. On the experience of the Commonwealth Games pre start, push India back – that should help to ensure they really are ready.
    (F1 in 3rd world countries just doesn’t cut it for me anyway).

  4. The fact is that the Bahrain GP won’t be missed, a dull track which leads to a dull race. I’m sure the teams, especially Mclaren, would look forward more to some extra testing time. Australia should never have lost the honour of the opening race…

  5. Bahrain pay an extra $12million to start the season, if it is rescheduled they will not have to pay this.

    So that is either $37million or $25million lost.
    50% of which goes to the teams, and some to subsidise tracks like Monza who pay almost nothing.

    But on the bright side FOM don’t have to pay travel concessions or the expensive HD up link for Bahrain.

  6. Hi Joe, i really doubt Insurances cover in times of War, Terror and national unrest. it’s a fortune to insure against these three…and the possibilities for those to mess with events such as F1 is impossible to predict let alone insure for, not to mention that even if it is insured, it would bring down the entire insurance companies and their networks because of the considerable numbers involved…

  7. It’s a very sensible decision to postpone the race,
    let’s hope the status quo returns soon.

    As for ‘force majeure’, insurance companies will always use this excuse to stall a claim and prevent payment.

    In this instance who has a claim against who?
    Silly question but i haven’t read the contract.

  8. If Bahrain goes the way of Egypt and Tunisia, I doubt that there will be another Bahrain GP. It’s the Crown Princes lifetime dream to have the GP, and as such F1 is seen as a symbol of the oppression that the people are demonstrating against.

  9. Hope it’s a 24 hour McDonalds.
    Joking aside I only discovered your blog / podcasts a few weeks ago. I like them – in fact I’m going to subscribe to GP+ (so the marketing strategy works!!!).
    Keep writing.
    Chris

  10. Hi Joe,

    Even given the current situation in Bahrain, I really can’t see Bernie walking away without a pocket full of cash!

  11. Paul,

    Do you have any idea what you’re talking about, beyond a few minutes’ google news searching? I’d be grateful for the sources of your insight into the Bahraini people’s view(s) on the GP…

  12. “Getting rid of Turkey might also be a nice idea but again it is too early in the year to be certain that Bahrain will be available.”

    A nice idea? It would be a horrible idea! OK, the crowd turnout is pathetic, but the circuit is a good one.

  13. No doubt, as usual, Bernie played his hand craftily on this one. It seems that he has not called the race off, rather had it cancelled on him.

  14. YuppieScum

    Would have to say you are right on the money.

    Paul

    You need to understand the issue is somewhat sectarian.
    The better off Sunni’s vs the underprivileged Shia.
    There are many who prefer the situation as it is now and they do not feel oppressed at all.

    The Sunni feel their poorer cousins have too many kids and are lazy & do nothing to help themselves.
    Whether this is true or not – this is a feeling held in Bahrain that is not getting much airplay.

    There is confusion amongst the populace – we want the Royal family out vs we like the King – it is the PM who is the problem!

    What do they really want – and who is pulling the strings!!!

    It is never black & white – especially in the Middle East!

  15. I am most probably naive but I don’t think Bernie waited for them to cancel so he could collect the money. I suspect he’s playing the long ball game and by letting the CP make the call saves face. Which is far more important than a few measly quid..

  16. I know Turkey is not pulling in much crowds, but it’s starting to get there. Plus the circuit is great, in fact probably the best out of Hermann Tilke’s designs. It would be a shame to lose it.

    From what I see, Russians, Bulgarians, Romanians and Greeks come out in volumes and (aside from the entrance fee) it would be nonsense to get rid of Turkey before Russia kicks in. And if there is a decent crowd, I see no reason it shouldnt go beyond that either.

    But Bahrain? I am sure Qatar is already in talks with Bernie for replacing Bahrain in not so long term. If I were Bernie, I wouldnt be against the idea too, as it is a favorable card to draw if he wants VW in the game after 2013.

    1. Sinan Kolat

      Beginning to get there? Not the Turkey I went to last year. It was worse than ever in terms of crowd numbers

  17. @India

    Yeah i think It’s probably been a mixture of both. All the hassle he was getting from the British press, and presumably foreign journalists too, about cancelling, by essentially passing the buck it meant he couldn’t be blamed for anything that happened. I have a feeling he thought the Prince wouldn’t cancel, but didn’t want to be accused of bringing F1 to a warzone just to make money, which is how it would have been reported.

  18. @packapoo

    At this stage, the Indian circuit looks well ahead of schedule. No chance of a Korea situation happening here

  19. Bahrain’s image is becoming increasingly tarnished. It’s probably a relief that Libya has overtaken them in the press attention stakes.

    Joe, have you heard any views or concerns directly from McLaren bearing in mind who the majority owners of the group and automotive parts are.

  20. I feel sorry for those countries whose GP’s are being rubbished by the internet archair experts.

    I’m sure they arre all doing there best.

    Surely it is the responsibility of the “sports” promoter to do thier homework before giving and operator a contract.

  21. I hope Bernie doesn’t cancel turkey, I’ve just bought tickets! I went last year and loved it! The circuit is easy to get to, provided you get a hotel on the Asian side of istanbul and the crowds on Sunday were comparable to Spa. The local interest is growing, it’ll be a real shame if Istanbul falls off the calender.

    Joe, I sincerely hope you are wrong on this one. I can’t really see any venue falling off the calendar for Bahrain’s sake this this.

  22. Regards Turkey its the typical story of F1 being to expensive for the general public.
    Ring any bells Bernie……………Nah, I’m getting the cash to service the debt that CVC took on in order to give me lots of money and still take my slice from the present.
    Bernie has paid out for a 55m Chelsea pad for Petra. The house needs renovating and will take 5 yrs. Bernie says he cant afford to retire due to providing for his daughters, this was maybe a joke. The joke is that he needs to provide for his daughters, surely they are old enough to stand on their own two feet. Very sad and not in the real world.

  23. I would say Bahrain will be desperate to get the last race of the year. For them, it’s the next best option in terms of publicity and interest. Maybe Abu Dhabi will try and stop them though, so it could become a bidding war.

    Bernie may be able to convince the teams to do this by linking the post-season Young Drivers Test to the track, like they did at Abu Dhabi last year.

    I can’t see them having that test in Brazil, so presumably they will have to journey to Spain or somewhere in December anyway.

  24. With any luck, a group of revolutionaries will blow up the Bahrain track for producing so many boring races detrimental to the image of their country.

    A permanently standing arrest warrant for Hermann Tilke, should he dare to set foot again on Bahraini soil, would also be a positive development.

  25. I suspect Bernie made a “strong suggestion” to the Crown Prince that the race should be postponed or cancelled and let the Crown Prince make the announcement so it would be seen as the Bahrainis’ decision rather than F1 cancelling on them. I also doubt that Bernie will be going after all sorts of cancellation fees as he will have his eye on the long-term relationship with the country and will want to go back when peace is restored which, we all hope, will be soon and long-lasting.

    Shame it had to happen. It would have been so much better if the violence had been unnecessary and it would have been a good test of the new measures to improve overtaking.

  26. I second Rondman’s comments re insurance. Typically, event cover excludes loss due to riot, war, civil insurrection and, sometimes, boycott. This is because of the difficulty in underwriting such risks; only a prescient underwriter would have guessed that Egypt and Tunisia would fall, causing regional instability that spread to Bahrain.

    This may also explain Bernie’s delicate dance regarding who called off the race. Were F1 to boycott (i.e, the teams refuse to appear), this might constitute a boycott by the teams (possibly not covered by insurance). However, a cancellation by race organizers, for reasons that are vague (i.e., not directly caused by “war” or “riot” or “civil insurrection”) might lead to coverage. Somewhere on Lime Street an underwriter is nervous.

  27. Rumours abound that one idea is to push Brazil back and have Bahrain before Abu Dhabi. This will give an end to the season in early December.
    As Joe pointed out, this makes the season a little to long and not giving the teams enough time to design new cars.
    No tears from me if this one gets lost, its only a plaything for the Crown Prince, its got nothing going for it at all as a race.

  28. Lets forget Bore-ain permanently.

    A 30 lap dash round the old Monza banking or take Silverstone back to pre woodcote chicane instead ?
    Anyone who eclipses the outright lap record gets a free bar with 50k of Bernie’s money on the tab..

    😉

  29. I reckon the best they could hope for is a date after the Season finale in Abu Dhabi as a Non-Championship Race. About time we had one of those again. Bernie would no doubt cajole and threaten the Teams to attend but if the big name Drivers give him the finger then they’ll just have to slot some youngsters in.

  30. In my opinion the race at Bahrain gets an unfair reputation as boring mostly because it is the opening race. I’m a little worried that the teams will be super conservative at Australia now, particularly with new tires that are supposed to degrade more quickly, and we’ll just end up with Bore-stralia instead of Bore-ain (sincere apologies for using those words). Obviously postponing the Bahrain race this year was the correct decision, but I’m hesitant to think that starting the season at Australia will automatically make the season absolutely thrilling from day 1. Here’s to hoping I am completely incorrect about that, but I feel it’s necessary to get the boring-yet-mandatory stuff over with to make sure that Melbourne has a proper race.

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