Bernie will not bolt from Bahrain

Bernie Ecclestone is ready to start negotiations over a Bahrain Grand Prix contract extension

Bernie Ecclestone is ready to start negotiations over a Bahrain Grand Prix contract extension

First published in National Sport News © by

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone is ready to hand a new five-year contract to the organisers of the controversial Bahrain Grand Prix.

This year's race again went ahead against a troubled backdrop as pro-democracy demonstrators staged marches and protests in their quest for reform given the country's miserable human rights record.

Despite the problems, Ecclestone has confirmed to Press Association Sport his willingness to start negotiations on an extension to a deal that still has another remaining three years, but will run to 2021, and he said: "I feel they do a super job and we're more than happy to give them a new contract for five years. I don't see any problems."

Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed R Alzayani feels talks will start soon, with the new contract signed before the end of the year.

"We're still contracted to 2016, but obviously we are willing to look beyond that," said Alzayani, speaking to Press Association Sport. "We've not started negotiations yet, but we are happy to look at it. The intentions (for a contract extension) are definitely there.

"We're committed to the sport, we were the first race in the Middle East - we call ourselves the home of motor sport in the Middle East.

"We truly believe that in every sense of those words, so we are here for the long term, and we want to be known as the friendly race.

"Hopefully we can sign something this year."

Ecclestone has also indicated next year's grand prix in the Gulf island kingdom could open next season, as it did in 2006 and 2010.

In 2011, however, anti-government demonstrations that resulted in the deaths of a number of protesters, led to the postponement of the race and eventually its withdrawal from the calendar that year.

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