Formula 1 commercial rights manager Bernie Ecclestone made a last-ditch bid to keep the Bahrain Grand Prix on the calendar just hours before the Gulf state abandoned efforts to hold the race, the FIA revealed on Friday.
After a week of controversy about the attempted reinstatement of the Bahrain GP on the calendar, the sport's governing body delivered a fresh twist to the saga by claiming that Ecclestone made an 11th hour attempt to have the race moved to Dec. 4 rather than be dropped. This came despite Ecclestone having said earlier this week that he thought the race was off after a backlash against the decision to put the event back on the calendar.
Having clear knowledge that the teams were unwilling to move India from its Oct. 30 slot and that they did not want the calendar expanded into December, Ecclestone asked the FIA as late as Thursday that he wanted to move Bahrain to become the season finale.
In a detailed chronology of the events surrounding the Bahrain GP saga that was published on the FIA website, it reported that on June 9 (Thursday): "The commercial rights holder (FOWCL) proposed to the FIA that the GP of Bahrain be rescheduled for 4 December, with the GP of India reinstated on its original date of October 30. The FIA replied the same day, asking FOWCL to provide guarantees that any new date proposal is acceptable both to the teams and to the organisers in Bahrain."
Within hours of the FIA replying to Ecclestone's request, however, the Bahrain organisers issued their own statement stating that they had given up on holding the race because of the logistical problems that teams were facing.
The release of the information by the FIA casts fresh intrigue about Ecclestone's involvement in the decisions surrounding the Bahrain GP, with the governing body having insisted that it was only ever following his suggestions for the calendar proposal. With the Bahrain organisers having given up on the race, Ecclestone was eventually forced to concede that the race could not take place – and requested on Friday morning that India revert to Oct. 30 with Bahrain abandoned.
The FIA has confirmed it received the latest request from Ecclestone, and it has asked the members of the World Motor Sport Council to approve the calendar changes no later than midday on Tuesday.
The full chronology of events surrounding the Bahrain GP that was published by the FIA can be found here.