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GP Week : Issue 217
F1 >>> BUsinEss Formula Money: There has been a lot of talk of a race in Qatar. Can the Middle east support three races? Bernie Ecclestone: Financially it could. I have talked about a race in Qatar but I have got a bit of problem which nobody knows about really but I’m sure they soon will. When I went to Bahrain I didn’t even know where Bahrain was and all the people in Bahrain didn’t even know what Formula One was because it was considered a very elitist sport and people are now seeing that it isn’t. I made a deal with the people in Bahrain and they said ‘since we are going to be something new in this area, give us a guarantee that you will not put another race on in the Gulf.’ I said ‘yes’. Typical Ecclestone handshake deal with the Crown Prince. Then we wanted a race in Abu Dhabi and I explained to them the position I was in and said ‘you had better ask the people in Bahrain. If they are happy, I’m happy. If not we wouldn’t.’ So they got together and that’s what happened. Then this other race has been proposed and I put the people together and said ‘can you sort this out between you?’ They haven’t managed to do it. They are not the best of friends I don’t think, the Bahrainis and the Qataris. We’re not interested in religion or politics, you know that. so Bahrain has a veto over whether Doha can have a race? Yes. Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. We never discussed the length. Didn’t discuss it. Never written down. No contract. so as long as Bahrain has a race they have a right to veto? Yes. Is there anyone from within Formula One you might bring on to be the new Bernie, the next man running the sport? I honestly believe that all that’s a little bit of a nonsense because I think what is actually going to happen is, if I die now, there’s enough people in the company that could continue running the company the way we have set things up. Would they want a front guy, particularly if they try for an IPO? The City would want to see someone that’s a face and then the right person would come up. Maybe this Mr Walsh, being the chairman, would be the right person. Did the board not anoint Mr Walsh because you said I’ve got to see him before you get him on board? They just didn’t discuss it. 5 minutEs With BErniE EcclEstonE PART 2: The F1 tsar talks to CHRISTIAN SYLT about racing in the Middle East 41 GPWEEK.com // 41 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: