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Ecclestone keen to extend Bahrain race deal

Apr 22, 2013, 10:28 AM EDT

Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa walks with Formula One's commercial supremo Ecclestone, Chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit Zayed al-Zayani and other officials before the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix at Sakir Circuit Reuters

Bernie Ecclestone says he’s eager to extend Bahrain’s contract to hold a round of the world championship despite continuing controversy over the race.

The grand prix was the focus of protests for the second year in a row following its reinstatement onto the calendar.

Bahrain was cut from the calendar in 2011 after pro-democracy protests were brutally suppressed by the government, leading to a state of emergency being declared.

“I feel they do a super job and we’re more than happy to give them a new contract for five years,” Ecclestone told Reuters.

The Bahrain race organizers have expressed an interest in holding the first race of the season as they did in 2006 and 2010. The race was supposed to be the season-opener in 2011 before it was postponed and eventually cancelled due to the unrest.

Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed Alzayani said a date change was “on the table”.

“For us, we’re ready any day of the year, but we will have to see how it fits with logistics, other dates, other countries hosting and if there are conflicts with any other events they may have,” he continued, adding that an extension on their current contract could be signed later this year. Bahrain’s current contract expires in 2016.

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