Formula 1

FIA President denies Middle East preference ahead of Bahrain GP

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Formula 1's Middle Eastern venues are not getting preferable treatment over their European, Asian and American counterparts.

That is the claim of FIA President Jean Todt ahead of the first race to be held in the region in 2014, the Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir.

The denial comes as the Island nation in the Persian Gulf appears to have become a favoured destination for F1 testing with two of the three preseason tests held there as well as the first in-season test of this year occurring for four days after Sunday's race.

Indeed the increased time spent in Bahrain comes only a few years after the race had to be cancelled because of unrest as the Arab Spring of 2011 hit the country.

Still, some three years on, some dissension remains though the questions over whether F1 is right to go to Bahrain appear to have ended.

With so much testing and now a twilight race taking place to mark the 10th anniversary of the first Bahrain Grand Prix, back in 2004, Todt believes any lingering thoughts over whether the sport is right to be in Bahrain are unnecessary.

"All over the world there are political problems -- in Asia, the Middle East and even in Europe," he told Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

"We have to be careful not to mix that with sporting matters. Our task is to organise a great motor sport event there," Todt insisted.

Indeed the move for greater testing in the Middle East has been something teams and tyre supplier Pirelli have been calling for, for quite a few years, with the region offering far more representative weather conditions, than the traditional testing spot of Southern Spain, as well as world class facilities.

It isn't just Bahrain that is benefiting from greater F1 privileges, just a hop over the connecting bridge in the UAE it's capital Abu Dhabi has been moved to the season finale for 2014 and will also host the very controversial first double points race which has been introduced for this year.

While Todt admits the spectacular setting that is the Yas Marina Circuit offers a great backdrop for the season finale, the decision to award the final race double points would have been made regardless of the venue.

"This is just an attempt to make the season finale even more spectacular," he said. "I like it when people come to me with ideas -- shall we award points for qualifying, should the points be distributed differently?

"We agreed with all of the teams to try this model for the last race. At the time, I was not even aware that it would be Abu Dhabi," the Frenchman added.

The Chief at the $1bn venue has also denied any link between the move to the final race of the season and the decision to award double points.

“The fact it came to us, that’s good for Abu Dhabi, it will keep things exciting to the last minute... I feel the mentality of the drivers will change,” Al Tareq al-Ameri was quoted by the Times of Malta.

“People don’t like changes, but for a sport like this, from the history, there are always changes happening with Formula One and that’s what keeps it exciting,” he added.

As for the controversy the decision to award double points has created, with fans and world champion Sebastian Vettel rarely sharing the same opinion voicing their displeasure at the idea, FIA's Todt was critical of teams who he said were supportive, but then changed their view as the backlash began.

"Even teams that agreed with the idea suddenly decided to criticise," the former Ferrari boss claimed.

"Everybody can have his opinion. To be honest, even I am uncomfortable with singling out one race out of 19, but if it gives us an unforgettable season finale, I will be the first who is happy about it."


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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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