Bahrain paid an estimated £25m ($39.2m) in hosting fees for this year’s Grand Prix despite being forced to cancel the three-day event amid widespread political unrest, it was reported Monday.
F1 commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said the Bahrain government had covered the hosting fee, which had ensured F1’s turnover and profit for the year would remain flat.
“I don’t think turnover will be down this year. 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,” he told British newspaper The Independent.
The annual hosting fee is estimated at £25m, the paper said.
Ecclestone had previously said the loss of the hosting fee would see F1’s Jersey-based parent company, Delta Topco, post a decline in revenue this year.
“I think the turnover and profit will be more or less the same as 2010.”
Bahrain’s season-opening race at Sakhir circuit was postponed in March after widespread political unrest in the country and the deaths of a number of pro-reform demonstrators.
Anti-government demonstrators told Arabian Business in February they planned to target the F1 race – the biggest event in Bahrain’s sporting calendar – in a bid to draw attention to their cause.
Efforts were made to reschedule the race, but Bahrain was eventually dropped from the 2011 calendar in June after protests from Formula One teams and drivers.
Bahrain's motor racing circuit chief in June called F1 teams "temperamental", and said he was disappointed at how they had turned their backs on the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Bahrain Grand Prix has been added to F1’s 20-race 2012 calendar, in a show of confidence that civil unrest in the Gulf state won’t stop the event a second time. The race is scheduled to go ahead on April 22 and has been paired with China.
“I spoke to the Bahrainis yesterday and they said everything is going to be fine. I hope they are right for their sake, not ours,” Ecclestone told the newspaper.
The 2012 season will start in Australia on March 18, to be followed a week later by the Malaysian Grand Prix, and then a three-week gap to the China and Bahrain double-header.
The schedule has a five-week summer break, with the tail end of the season seeing back-to-back races in Belgium/Italy, Japan/Korea and India/Abu Dhabi.
The United States Grand Prix, which will return to auto- racing’s elite series for the first time since 2007, is scheduled Nov 18 at the Circuit of the Americas track in Austin, Texas. The season ends the following week in Brazil.
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