Bahrain Won’t Have To Pay Sanctioning Fee

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Postponing the Bahrain Grand Prix because of the political unrest in that country was absolutely the correct thing to do from every perspective.

Australia now becomes the season opener March 27. Whether Bahrain can be rescheduled later this year is undecided. It certainly is in Bernie Ecclestone’s best interests if it can be run in 2011 because as of now Bahrain won’t have to pay the $31 million sanctioning fee.

“I am not charging them for a race they are not getting,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “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 [the political situation] is. It is similar to if an earthquake had struck — no one could have foreseen that a month ago. If and when it is rescheduled they will pay their usual fee.”

“I want to be loyal to the King, because he is doing everything he can to put things right with his people,” Ecclestone told The Times in London. “He doesn’t need people like me stabbing him in the back.”

It remains to be seen if Ecclestone would refund one-twentieth of the money the TV and radio companies paid to broadcast 20 races. The same goes for the teams and their various sponsor contracts, which stipulate their cars will be on TV for 20 races. Obviously there are various clauses including “force majeure” but if the race can be run then there will be no financial issues to dispute.

The teams will lose money because of fully or partially nonrefundable travel costs such as airfares, hotels and hiring equipment. But the most important thing for now from the point of view of the citizens of Bahrain and those who planned to visit is that the race has been called off.