Bahrain’s largesse saved the day for FIA

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F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone confirmed that Bahrain authorities had paid F1 the stipulated race fee—estimated around $40 million.

He also claimed that the sum was offered back to the Bahrainis after the season’s opening race was cancelled, but they were generous enough to let the F1 keep it.

Bernie had earlier said that the Bahrainis wouldn’t be charged if the race is cancelled. According to Ecclestone the Formula One balance sheet for 2011 should be 'flat' because of the bonus money that has accumulated owing to Bahrain’s largess.

The 2011 Formula One season was scheduled to be flagged off at Bahrain, but the civil unrest marked by violent anti-government protests led to Bahrain’s withdrawal. Prince Salman had said, "At the present time the country's entire attention is focused on building a new national dialogue for Bahrain. Although Bernie Ecclestone had graciously made clear a decision on the race was entirely Bahrain's to make and was not yet required, we felt it was important for the country to focus on immediate issues of national interest and leave the hosting of Bahrain's Formula One race to a later date”. Ecclestone had returned the favor by saying: "It is sad that Bahrain has had to withdraw from the race, we wish the whole nation well as they begin to heal their country. The hospitality and warmth of the people of Bahrain is a hallmark of the race there, as anyone who has been at a Bahrain grand prix will testify. We look forward to being back in Bahrain soon." The race was subsequently rescheduled for next year. 

It seems pretty obvious that Bahrainis are clearly desperate to get their race back and it would be interesting to see how well F1 reciprocate Bahrain’s largess, particularly if the situation in Bahrain still remains tense before next April's race.

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