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Bahrain affair 'damaging', say teams

BahrainFormula 1 chiefs should have handled the situation surrounding the Bahrain Grand Prix much better, claim leading team bosses, amid claims that the controversy about the attempted rescheduling of the race has been damaging for the sport's image.

Although it is now almost certain that the Bahrain event will finally be dropped from the 2011 schedule, after FIA president Jean Todt invited Bernie Ecclestone to provide a revised calendar to the governing body, the way the affair has been played out in public has not gone down well among senior paddock figures.

And despite both Red Bull Racing's Christian Horner and Renault's Eric Boullier welcoming the FIA's response to FOTA's desire for India to be reinstated to its original October 30 date, they still have some unease about the events of the event week.

Horner said: "It's an unfortunate situation. Obviously with the way things have been handled, with the uncertainty, maybe it could have been handled better, but we are where we are."

Boullier, when asked about whether the Bahrain affair had been damaging for F1, said: "Obviously, yes. I am a young inexperienced team principal, but I am pushing hard to do my best to help to build F1 for the future, and obviously it is never good when you get such reactions when things like this happen.

"F1 is a non-political sport. We cannot do whatever we want, because there are issues like this. We need to be a little bit more cautious."

The final decision on the cancellation of the Bahrain GP will now rest with Ecclestone, with Todt having written to the teams on Thursday saying that its decision on the calendar was made on the advice of the sport's commercial rights holder - who would now be asked to submit another revision to the current 2011 plans.

There appears to be no doubt, however, that India will revert back to October 30, with AUTOSPORT understanding that Delhi race organisers having written to the FIA expressing their unhappiness about moving to scheduled December 11 slot.

Todt refused to answer questions about the Bahrain GP situation during an appearance at Le Mans on Thursday.

Horner said that the teams were happy that the Bahrain matter now appeared to be heading towards a solution that would satisfy the teams.

"The situation with Bahrain is becoming fairly clear," he said. "At the end of the day we are just a racing team that signs up to compete in the championship, and obviously we rely on the governing body and the commercial rights holder to make the right decisions for the sport and the teams.

"The teams have now been consulted through FOTA, FOTA has voiced their opinion and that's fairly clear for all to see now."

He added: "Formula 1 is a sport. It's not there to be used as a political tool. Our position as a racing team is that we're here to race in F1.

"Bahrain is a great circuit and we've always been made to feel very welcome. It's unfortunate the issues that are currently going on there, but it's not down to Red Bull to judge, and we rely on the FIA and the commercial rights holder to make the right decisions."

Boullier said that one of the few positives to come out of the affairs of the last week was that FOTA had acted so strongly when it stood up against the FIA's plans for Bahrain.

"It was very good. It is the way it has to be. Out of the political situation, FOTA I think will get better out of this because it shows that we can stick together and have the same way of communication and the same wish together."

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