Bernie weighs in on Turkey and Bahrain

Monday 09-May-2011 09:54

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone wants the Turkish GP to continue hosting races next year but is unlikely to do organisers any favors by slashing costs.

Speculation intensified that Turkey may not host a race next year after the head of Istanbul's Chamber of Commerce Murat Yalcintas - citing an increase in the fee to stage it - last month expressed reservations about bringing the sport back.

"We will be happy to race here for exactly the same fees that we get from other European races, like Hungary does," Ecclestone said during the Turkish Grand Prix.

"Other countries seem to believe that Formula One is good for their country. If Turkey believes it doesn't need any good public relations, that's fine."

Turkey joined the F1 calendar in 2005 but the race has attracted poor attendances due to high ticket prices and difficulty of access to the venue on Istanbul's Asian side.

Istanbul's six-year contract to host the race expires this year. Many drivers have said they want to come back as they enjoying the testing circuit, with its mammoth Turn Eight at 640 meters long the longest of the season.

Yalcintas, who represents the backers of the race, said on his Twitter account last month that Ecclestone doubled the asking fee from $13 million to $26 million, and that Turkey's Ministry of Finance considered the amount too high.

"It's up to them to make up their mind," Ecclestone said. "I cannot do it for them."

Ecclestone hinted that discussions have been ongoing in recent days.

"I hope that we can clear everything up over the weekend," he said. "We don't want to leave here."

Another sensitive issue, for different reasons, is the future of this season's Bahrain Grand Prix.

F1's governing body has given Bahrain until June 3 to decide if a new date can be set this year.

It was originally scheduled to be the season-opening F1 race on March 13, but had to be canceled by Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa after anti-government protests in the country.

"It's difficult to say. If they are happy to have the race, I am sure we are happy to be there," Ecclestone said. "But we would need a guarantee that there won't be problems.

"Right now, I don't know how anybody could guarantee that because it might be peaceful now, but who knows in the future?"

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