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Rediff.com  » Sports » Bahrain secures long-term future on F1 calendar

Bahrain secures long-term future on F1 calendar

January 30, 2007 16:06 IST

Bahrain will host a Formula One Grand Prix until well into the next decade after announcing a long term contract extension on Monday, organisers said.

"The new agreement...underlines Formula One's commitment to the kingdom," Bahrain International Circuit said in a statement.

"This now ensures that the country can incorporate the pinnacle of motorsport into its long-term plans for the development and growth of its year-round calender of events, as well as its leadership in the growing Middle East motor sport industry," it added.

Bahrain hosted the first Grand Prix in the Middle East in 2004 at a brand new $150 million circuit at Sakhir to the south of the island.

The statement said the 2006 race, the season-opener, generated $394 million in direct income to the kingdom's businesses and traders.

"Bahrain has not only built a venue that is among the very best in the world...but has also built foundations for the current growth of interest and investment in Formula One across the Middle East," said Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone in the statement.

Monday's announcement comes as Formula One teams are preparing for a "Tribute to the Champions" demonstration event in the streets of Abu Dhabi at the weekend.

Billed as the largest number of Formula One cars and drivers ever assembled outside of an official Grand Prix event, the cars will run around a specially-designed street circuit along the Abu Dhabi waterfront on Saturday.

Leading drivers taking part include double world champion Fernando Alonso, Honda's Brazilian Rubens Barrichello and Ferrari's new signing Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Brazilian Felipe Massa.

Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Development company owns five percent of Ferrari and are also sponsors of the team.

Bahrain's Mumtalakat Holding Company, wholly-owned by the Kingdom of Bahrain, this month agreed to buy a 30 percent stake in McLaren.

Formula One teams have also scheduled two pre-season test sessions in Bahrain in February and March.

Source:
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