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Ecclestone dismisses Bahrain GP concerns

(Agencies) / 3 November 2012

Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone says he is “not concerned” about Bahrain once again hosting a Formula One race despite ongoing clashes there between security forces and anti-government protesters.

Ecclestone also seemed to put a damper on Friday on prospects of a return of the French Grand Prix to the schedule, possibly as soon as next year as a replacement for the cancelled New Jersey race. Asked about it, he only would say “who knows, everything is possible with me, you know that.”

The French GP has been off the calendar since 2008, but officials of the Magny Cours and Paul Ricard circuits are making bids for its return.

Ecclestone has long been one of the strongest backers of the Bahrain GP since it became the first race in the Gulf eight years ago. He continued to lobby for the race even after it was cancelled last year. A bid to reschedule the race for later in 2011 was abandoned by local organisers.

He also raised the possibility of a third grand prix in the Gulf, this one in neighboring Qatar. Local media reports there have reported in recent months that officials are trying to get the license to allow it to host F1 teams for preseason testing. If granted, that could be a step to eventually hosting a F1 race most likely at the circuit that now hosts a MotoGP race. “Let’s see. Let’s see what comes out of it,” he said of a Qatar GP.

The F1 boss also heaped praise on Abu Dhabi, which he said has the best facilities of any circuit in the series. “I love it here. All the teams love it here. Everyone is very happy,” he said. “This is without any doubt the best circuit we’ve got. We try to make it (a benchmark) but it’s not easy. It’s not inexpensive to make something like this so we have to be a bit careful.”

Meanwhile, Max Chilton will have to wait until the end of the season before finding out whether he can secure a Formula One race seat with Marussia and become Britain’s fourth driver on the starting grid. The 21-year-old took part in his first practice session at the Abu Dhabi GP and impressed the team, who have made clear that their second driver will have to bring financial backing.

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