BAHRAIN yesterday denied it was granted the first race of the 2008 Formula One season. The denial was in response to reports from Melbourne suggesting that the Australian Grand Prix would be the second race of the 2008 calendar.
Melbourne has traditionally hosted the opening race in recent years except for 2006 when Bahrain kicked off the season due to the original race dates clashing with the Commonwealth Games.
"Until such time as the official 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship calendar is announced any speculation about the date of next year's Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix has to be discounted. Only when the official calendar is released will the Bahrain International Circuit be in a position to announce the date for the race in 2008," said BIC general manager Martin Whitaker.
"Earlier this year, Bahrain was able to announce that it had secured a long-term agreement with Formula One Management to stage the race at BIC with a contract that will see the Bahrain Grand Prix being staged until deep into the next decade," added Whitaker.
But the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) yesterday announced that the March 16 event in Melbourne would be the second race on the 2008 calendar and would start 90 minutes later than usual, at 1530 local time, to cater for European television audiences.
"Taking all factors into account, this is the best option for our event and the people who support it," AGPC chairman Ron Walker said in a statement of the switch to second in the calendar.
However, the dates and calendar order are subject to final confirmation from the FIA, Formula One's governing body.