If Bahrain is reinstated on this year’s motor racing calendar, the Indian Formula One Grand Prix could be moved from October to a season-ending December slot, commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said.
“Yes, we are having a look at it,” the 80-year-old Briton told Reuters at the Spanish Grand Prix when asked about a possible date change, with Bahrain taking India’s current October 30 place.
“Everything’s possible. We could do (move the Delhi race to the end of the season), yeah,” he added. “I’m not sure at the moment what I’m going to do. Everything’s up in the air.”
"I haven’t decided about it. We’ll see if we have to go to Bahrain," Mr. Ecclestone said.
India’s first grand prix is due to be held at a circuit near New Delhi, with Abu Dhabi and Brazil the last two races.
Bahrain had been due to open the season on March 13 but the race was postponed because of civil unrest that has killed at least 29 people since protests started in February.
The Gulf kingdom’s ruler said this month that a state of emergency, imposed in March after Saudi-led troops arrived to help clamp down on protests, would be lifted on June 1—two days before a decision is due on rescheduling the race.
While Bahrain authorities have indicated they want to hold the race, many in Formula One doubt it can go ahead in the current climate.
“If, security is guaranteed; if the foreign ministries in England allow us to travel there; if my guys are happy and if there is a race happening there, we will be happy to race there,” said Renault team boss Eric Boullier.
“But the next question would be in the political context: Do we have to race there? That is another subject. I don’t really want to enter into that debate. But the question has to be raised. Does F1 have to go there? It is maybe too early to go there after the dramas,” Mr. Boullier said.
Vicky Chandhok, president of the Federation of Motorsports Clubs of India, told Reuters in the Barcelona paddock that any date change had pros and cons.
He said the final layer of asphalt was currently being laid and the 5.14-km circuit, some 35km from New Delhi and would be ready for the October 30 race.
“They don’t really need the (extra) time as far as circuit preparation is concerned,” he said.
“If it is pushed to December 4...we will have the race and then the sixth of December is the FIA world council meeting in Delhi and on the seventh is the annual awards and the eighth is the general assembly,” he said.
"So we would have a week of Formula One and FIA in Delhi. From that perspective it makes sense," added Mr. Chandhok, father of racer Karun.
The logistics would be challenging however, with the freight and cars unlikely to arrive in Delhi from the November 27 Brazil Grand Prix until the Tuesday before the race with teams then facing unfamiliar customs formalities.
Although up to speed with paddock speculation, Mr. Chandhok stressed he was unaware of any serious consideration of a change at this point.
“I think what they were asked perhaps was that in case Bahrain does happen, could they accommodate a change in date,” he said.
“They are OK, they understand the situation but I think they are not participating in any active discussion on it because it’s a call that Bernie and the FIA have to make, whether Bahrain is going to go ahead or not,” Mr. Chandhok said.