The race, scheduled to be the opening Grand Prix of the season, was postponed and then called off due to widespread civil unrest in the Gulf kingdom. Although there had been suggestions in the media that Bahrain may not have had to pay the race sanctioning fee, Ecclestone told The Independent newspaper that F1 would not miss out on the payment, reported to be £25 million.
“I don’t think turnover will be down this year,” Ecclestone said. “I think it will be flat because we were paid for Bahrain. I said we will give them the money back and they said don’t bother. I think the turnover and profit will be more or less the same as 2010.” Although there have been reports of further clashes in the Gulf kingdom, Bahrain has been handed a place on next year’s calendar on April 22.
Bahrain is slated to stage the fourth Grand Prix of the 20-race season, earlier than a provisional November 4 slot. “I spoke to the Bahrainis yesterday and they said everything is going to be fine,” Ecclestone added. “I hope they are right for their sake, not ours.” Ecclestone also said that he was keen to take F1 to new territories, adding: “After Russia I would like to go to South Africa and Mexico. Both countries are trying to do something.”