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Ecclestone warns of "commercial damage" to Japanese Grand Prix

NEWS STORY
25/04/2011

Japan is still coming to terms with the impact of last month's earthquake and the effects are set to be felt for a long time to come. Indeed, Formula One's boss Bernie Ecclestone has told Pitpass' business editor Chris Sylt that even the country's Grand Prix, which is due to take place in October, could be affected.

The race is held at the Suzuka track five hundred miles south west of the epicentre and although it has not been damaged, Ecclestone says that the earthquake could jeopardise ticket sales.

"The problem is not going to be any damage to the circuit it is how much damage is done commercially with people buying tickets," says Ecclestone in the Daily Mail. Last year 100,000 spectators attended the race and ticket sales are crucial since they cover the annual race hosting fee estimated at 29.3m ($48.4m) by F1's industry monitor Formula Money.

Other income from the race, such as trackside advertising and corporate hospitality, go directly to F1's parent company. However, Ecclestone suggests that F1 is prepared to offer assistance as it did in 2000 when the strongest earthquake in five years hit Japan and left over 100 people injured. "We had trouble with an earthquake before and tried to help them," he says.

F1 has already lost an estimated 24.2m ($40m) in income this year due to the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix as a result of the civil uprising in the country. The organisers have a deadline of next week to decide whether to hold the race this year and the chances of it returning to the 2011 calendar seem extremely slim to say the least.

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