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Qatar deal imminent

NEWS STORY
09/02/2015

Qatar official claims that a deal to host a Grand Prix by 2016 or 2017 is close to being agreed.

Qatar, which is spending billions on various sporting events - including Moto GP, World Superbikes, the 2019 World Athletics Championships and the (infamous) 2022 World Cup - in its determination to take its place at the forefront of global sport, is determined to add Formula One to its prestigious roster.

Indeed, such is the desire to claim a place on the F1 calendar it is understood Qatar is willing to pay around 50m annually for the race, topping the current record of 46.3m paid by Abu Dhabi. Thereby bringing the total fee to around 500m as contracts typically run for ten years.

However, it was revealed late last year that Bahrain can veto the event

"It was an idea I thought would work," Bernie Ecclestone told Christian Sylt. "I've got a bit of a problem which nobody knows about really but I'm sure they soon will.

"I made a deal with the people in Bahrain and they said, 'If we are going to be something new in this area, which we are, will you give us a guarantee you won't put another race on in the area, in the Gulf?" he revealed. "I said yes. Typical Ecclestone handshake deal with the Crown Prince."

He then revealed that when Abu Dhabi asked for a race, permission had to be sought from the Bahrainis. "I explained the position that I was in and said you'd better ask the people in Bahrain if they are happy," he admitted. "If they are happy, I'm happy. If not, we won't. So they got together and that's what happened.

"Then this other race (Qatar) has been proposed and I put the people together and said 'Can you sort this out between you?' and they haven't managed to do it."

Well, according to Nasser bin Khalifa Al Attiyah, president of the Qatar Motor Sport Federation and vice-president of the FIA, a Grand Prix looks likely to be held in 2016 or 2017.

"We are about to sign contracts to organise a Formula One race," he told the Gulf Daily News. "We have completed all the steps and there are only a few details before the official signature."

Qatar's 3.4-mile Losail circuit has hosted GP2, Moto GP and World Superbikes, but Ecclestone isn't ruling out an F1 street race in Doha which would differentiate the Grand Prix from the others in the Middle East.

"We are looking at all possibilities," said Ecclestone.

Losail is fully floodlit, as the MotoGP race takes place at night, so an F1 race there could follow Abu Dhabi's format of starting in twilight.

Chris Balfe

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by The stogie, 14/02/2015 0:33

"I guess the real problem is that there are only so many camels to watch the races and they don't want to take any chances!!"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by gturner38, 12/02/2015 0:19

"So Qatar is willing to pay just a few million more for a race in 2017 than Abu Dhabi is currently paying for its contract that runs out in 2016. I'm sure the timing of that is purely a coincidence. I mean it's not as if a race has ever been announced in a location like New Jersey where there clearly was never any intention of racing to encourage other reasonably local races to make a new deal (unless they really were going to drive up onto a sidewalk to pit and park the cars in the middle of retail stores)."

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3. Posted by Darvi, 10/02/2015 13:47

"Oh good, another race to be run in the middle of a desert at a circuit which will only be used once a year, with amazing facilities which will be largely unappreciated as there will be next to no-one there. Much better than supporting the circuits and audiences that helped Formula 1 to be successful. Indeed, why have any races in Europe which Bernie has previously described as "third world". Another Bernie "take the money and run" move."

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4. Posted by Vinicius, 09/02/2015 14:59

"Bernie is right. F1 needs to take the money from these rich countries, it's very important to do so. Better than taking less money from the decadent Europe."

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5. Posted by Ro, 09/02/2015 13:44

"Absolute joke ! or is it a travesty ? "

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6. Posted by Hondawho?, 09/02/2015 12:58

"I am all for more sport in the middle east. They have the money, build really good circuits and makes the whole F1 experience something to look forward to.

Forgetting what the media are saying about the Arabs, I have always found them very very hospitable, and its a shame a small minority within their own ranks and non motorsport orientated are trying to ruin it for the majority in all things Arab around the World.

Sport should only be able to bring people together, not to act as a wedge between factions so I will not make further comment on other "issues" as I know nothing about them and only, like many read what I hear in the press.

If Qatar bring another round of F1 to their part of the World and the other Arab states have agreed, all the best to them, I shall be there and will look forward to it."

Rating: Negative (-4)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

7. Posted by White Lightning, 09/02/2015 12:51 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 09/02/2015 12:51)

"So F1 continues to lead the way in prostrating itself to slave-owners and those who justify their breaching of human rights by regarding their victims are sub-human.

Anyone else read the disgusting Baku puff-piece in this month's F1 Racing? Almost as nauseating as last year's Russian love-in."

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8. Posted by Nortim, 09/02/2015 12:06

"So there goes German GP, not only they cut short Hockenheim, we want see neither of the 2 (Hockenheim and Nurburgring), but we will get Losail instead.

Oh great!"

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