Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina venue can stay on the F1 calendar “for ever”, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has enthused.
“If only all the venues were as superb as Abu Dhabi I would be one happy man,” the Briton told Gulf News.
Abu Dhabi joined the tail-end of the F1 schedule last year, with the more than billion-dollar venue situated on the harbour of the superb tourism island Yas and straddled by a colour-changing five-star hotel.
Said Ecclestone: “After last year’s debut race there I just sat back and wallowed in all the compliments that were heaped on the place from people all over the world.
“How long is their arrangement to hold a grand prix? For ever. For as long as they want it. That’s how satisfied I am with the entire setup,” he added.
The 80-year-old’s enthusiasm might of course be coloured by the premium annual race fee of $40 million paid by the organisers.
Ecclestone replied: “I am well aware that I am regarded as hard, uncompromising and uncaring and that I am driven by money. I don’t care.
“There are plenty of people in F1 who are very wealthy because of the way I am and my attitude to business and the sport. And they should be thankful for the positions I have taken, not always popular, over the years to give F1 an international profile.
“Sure, I have benefited personally, but so, too, have the teams. I have put a lot back. A lot of effort. Between us we have a duty to be sure that F1 survives at all levels as an enhanced spectacle,” he said.
Ecclestone said F1’s other Middle Eastern host, Bahrain, is also one of his favourite stops on the calendar.
“I have nothing but the highest praise for the people behind both venues. They have been absolutely brilliant, a total treat to deal with, and have achieved everything I have asked without a single word of disagreement,” he said.
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