Bahrain may stage 2014 F1 season opener
Manama, June 19, 2013
The Bahrain Grand Prix will likely be the first race of the 2014 Formula One season, following reports that Australian race organisers have confirmed news of losing their status as the season-opener.
The Sunday Herald Sun newspaper reported that the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne will now be held two weeks after Bahrain kick starts the new season on March 2 of next year, according to the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
Their date will be around the same time they usually host the championship's first race in mid-March, but now they would be the second Grand Prix on the 2014 calendar.
"Our preference is to retain the third weekend in March," said Australian Grand Prix Corporation boss Andrew Westacott.
A Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) spokesman told the GDN yesterday that Bahrain's position in the 2014 Formula One season can only be confirmed once the official calendar is announced by the sport's world governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA).
The FIA is expected to release the 2014 season schedule in August. The Bahrain Grand Prix is reportedly set to open a record 21-race season next year, with new events in Russia and New Jersey adding to the already packed calendar.
Should Bahrain be given the right to organise the 2014 season opener, it would provide a grand stage for the kingdom to mark a momentous occasion as it will be hosting a landmark 10th Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Australian Grand Prix has been the season-opening race of the Formula One World Championship ever since the event moved to Melbourne from Adelaide in 1996.
Bahrain has made it no secret that it wants to be the first race in Formula One each year. BIC staged the opening event twice in the past, first in 2006 and then again in 2010. It was also scheduled to host the season-opener in 2011, but the event was cancelled due to civil unrest.
At this year's Bahrain Grand Prix in April, BIC chairman Zayed R Alzayani said that the kingdom would be delighted to once again be the season-opening event.
"It gives us a chance to have the teams here longer, there is more anticipation, more unknowns, how the cars will react to the new tyres, the regulations, the drivers are just back into their rhythm," he said.
Alzayani added that Bahrain could also host the final pre-season tests at BIC prior to the start of the 2014 world championship, just as it did in 2006.
"They can come to the last test and then leave most of their equipment here until race weekend," he said.
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone did not immediately oppose the possibility of Bahrain being the first race next year.
"We could do, I suppose," he said. "We need to have a look at it." – TradeArabia News Service