Bahrain can veto Qatar F1 race, says Bernie Ecclestone
No amount of money can secure Qatar a place on the Formula One calendar because nearby Bahrain effectively has the power to veto any plans to hold a race there, Bernie Ecclestone said on Thursday.
London: No amount of money can secure Qatar a place on the Formula One calendar because nearby Bahrain effectively has the power to veto any plans to hold a race there, Bernie Ecclestone said on Thursday.
The sport`s commercial supremo told reporters the Middle East could easily support three races a year financially but there were contractual obstacles to more than two happening.
Bahrain became the first Middle East country to host a grand prix in 2004 and Abu Dhabi followed in 2009.
There has recently been talk of a race in Doha, with the Qataris eager to add to a list of major sporting events in the country, including the controversial 2022 soccer World Cup finals, possibly as early as 2017.
"It was an idea I thought would work," said Ecclestone, who said talks had taken place with the Qataris for a race that some reports have suggested would have paid 50 million pounds ($78.49 million) a year in hosting fees.
"But I`ve got a bit of a problem which nobody knows about really but I`m sure they soon will," added the 84-year-old billionaire.
"I made a deal with the people in Bahrain and they said, `If we are going to be something new in this area, which we are, will you give us a guarantee you won`t put another race on in the area, in the Gulf?`.
"I said yes. Typical Ecclestone handshake deal with the Crown Prince."
Ecclestone said that when Abu Dhabi approached him about a race, he had to ask them to get permission from the Bahrainis.
"I explained to them the position that I was in and said you`d better ask the people in Bahrain if they are happy. If they are happy, I`m happy. If not, we won`t. So they got together and that`s what happened.
"Then this other race (in Qatar) has been proposed and I put the people together and said `Can you sort this out between you?` and they haven`t managed to do it," he said.
Qatar already has a round of the MotoGP world championship at the Losail circuit near Doha and has an impressive list of sporting events in the pipeline.
The tiny oil and gas-rich state will host the 2019 world athletics championships and is seen as a potential bidder for the 2024 Summer Olympics.