F1 supremo waives off cancellation fee of Bahrain Grand Prix

Ecclestone says the civil unrest in Bahrain is equivalent to a case of "force majeure," or events beyond the organisers' control.

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LONDON // The Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone will not charge organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix any cancellation fees for calling off the season-opening event.

The March 13 race was scrapped amid the political unrest in the Gulf kingdom, leaving Bahrain in line to pay an estimated $40 million (Dh14.5m) rights fee to Ecclestone's Formula One Management company.

But Ecclestone said he would waive the fee.

"The fee that is normally being paid for the event is not being paid," he said in The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday. "I am not charging them for a race they are not getting."

Ecclestone said the civil unrest in Bahrain was equivalent to a case of "force majeure," or events beyond the organisers' control.

"It is similar to if an earthquake had struck - no one could have foreseen that a month ago," he said.

Ecclestone said the sport was "not insured for this sort of thing" and his FOM group would receive no money from Bahrain unless it can find a slot for the race later in the season. "If and when it is rescheduled they will pay their usual fee," he said.

In a separate interview with The Times, Ecclestone described the decision to waive the fee as an act of loyalty and goodwill toward Bahrain's royal family.

"Nobody gains from this," he said. "I want to be loyal to the king because he is doing everything he can to put things right with his people. He doesn't need people like me stabbing him in the back."

Ecclestone said he would try to squeeze the race into the calendar at the end of the year. The Bahrain GP has been raced every year since 2004.

"What has happened in Bahrain is desperately sad but one month ago everyone was looking forward to the race," he said in The Telegraph. "No one had a problem with it then. If everything is peaceful, which we hope it will be, then we will try out best to fit it in."

Australia will now host the season-opener on March 27.