Bahrain bad PR move for F-1

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:02 PM ET

TORONTO - The decision by Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA to go ahead last weekend with the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix continues to garner headlines.

Ecclestone and company argued then that it was a sporting decision to carry on the race in spite of the civil unrest that has engulfed the desert kingdom for more than a year.

In 2011 F-1 bosses wisely cancelled the event — but still got paid by race promoters — rather than put teams in peril.

This season the Bahrain organizers let it be known that it would be F-1 and the FIA who would be on the hook for the cost of the race if it was cancelled again.

So, as in every decision made about F-1 by Ecclestone and his associates, it was strictly cash that was the deciding factor in going ahead with the race this time.

In the end the event may have been an artistic success — Sebastian Vettel drove a great race — but the circuit was at less than half capacity.

And now major F-1 sponsors are re-thinking their involvement in future events in Bahrain if the government there continues to battle pro-democracy demonstrators.

When that happens Ecclestone will surely be singing a different tune.

TAGLIANI GETS NEW ENGINE FOR INDY 500

Alex Tagliani has had more than his share of woes this IZOD IndyCar Series season.

Tagliani failed to finish two of the three races so far due to problems with his Lotus engine.

And in the other race he finished way up the track in the No. 98 Barracuda/Bryan Herta Autosports Dallara DW12.

But all that could be in the rear view mirror as Lotus announced Tuesday that Tagliani and Barracuda along with Oriol Servia and the DRR team have been let out of their engine contracts and are free to go to Honda or Chevrolet for new powerplants.

Word is Tagliani will get a new engine from Honda while Servia will move to Chevrolet.

“It was clear from the start that the 2012 season was going to be a huge challenge as Lotus debuted its IndyCar engine, but it was a challenge that Lotus was determined to meet,” Lotus said in a statement. “Lotus has acknowledged that whilst the engine has demonstrated a lot of promise, minimal testing has resulted in reliability issues.”

As for this week at the Sao Paulo Indy 300 in Brazil Tagliani will be at the track but not in a race car.

The team’s poor finishes knocked them out of the top 22 in championship points, denying Barracuda funds to deliver the car and team to South America.

The next time Tagliani will be behind the wheel will be at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May preparing to defend his 2011 pole winning performance.

JOURDAIN BACK AFTER LONG LAYOFF

It has been 16 years since Michel Jourdain Jr. has taken a lap at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

But next month the 35-year-old Mexican race car driver will be back with Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan Racing to try to win the Indianapolis 500.

Jourdain is a former two-time IndyCar race winner but has spent the last several seasons dabbling in sports car racing and NASCAR.

“I am extremely happy about this new opportunity,” Jourdain said on Tuesday. “My best years professionally came with Bobby Rahal. I know it is a huge challenge, to drive at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after so long and with this type of car, but I hope that I will feel at home in a few days.”


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