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Spanish Grand Prix confirmed to 2011
Alan Baldwin | May 08, 2004 20:39 IST
Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya will host the Spanish Grand Prix until 2011, subject to local legislation against tobacco advertising, Bernie Ecclestone said on Saturday.
Five of the 10 Formula One teams, including champions Ferrari and leading challengers BAR and Renault, are backed by tobacco and several races risk being axed as European legislation comes into force.
"This contract is a normal standard contract that we have throughout Europe and it has a provision concerning tobacco legislations," the Formula One supremo told a news conference at the circuit to announce the renewal.
"We must bear in mind that these contracts are subject to what is going to happen with the legislation on tobacco.
"I hope we can get that all sorted out in Europe so we don't have to keep disappearing out of Europe."
He said any contract could be ended immediately under the provision, although he did not say it would be.
The European Union is due to introduce a ban on all tobacco advertising, subject to adoption by governments, from the middle of next year with Formula One's governing body committed to global measures in 2006.
Two new races -- in Bahrain and China -- are on the calendar this year and Turkey is scheduled for 2005. India is also negotiating for a Grand Prix.
Asked whether there was a real danger that Europe could be without Grands Prix as a result of the EU legislation, Ecclestone said it was too early to say.
"We have to wait and see. It's a pity that each country can't make its own decision on the tobacco."
He suggested a special exemption for the period of a race on advertising within the circuit, arguing that people would be exposed to advertising anyway if the race were held outside Europe and broadcast back in.
"We've always said that if tobacco advertising is so powerful and it makes people start smoking when they see a sign, we should put up another sign just as large that says 'if you smoke you'll die,'" said Ecclestone.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage