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Ecclestone insists Chinese GP is safe

NEWS STORY
16/04/2010

Against a backdrop of empty grandstands, at a circuit where the teams' employees today outnumbered spectators, Bernie Ecclestone has guaranteed the short-term future of the Chinese Grand Prix.

While the circuit might be one of Formula One's true state-of-the-art venues, a general lack of interest in the sport, together with the high ticket prices, certainly in relation to local pay, means that locals have never really taken to the Grand Prix. Year after year the crowd appears smaller, leading to organizers turning whole grandstands into giant advertising 'hoardings'.

However, Ecclestone remains convinced that F1 has a future in China, and therefore, despite speculation to the contrary, he says that Shanghai will remain part of the calendar for the foreseeable future. This comes in spite of the fact that the initial 7-year contract runs out this year and officials are talking of not renewing the deal.

"We've talked to them all the time about everything," Ecclestone told reporters, "we're happy with everything, no dramas. The contract is ongoing here, it will go on as a rolling contract. I'll be here next year. I think the government is committed completely, I don't think there's any doubt about that."

Looking at the swathes of empty seats (grandstands), Ecclestone place the blame squarely at the feet of the promoters, government-owned Juss Events.

"It's a shame, the whole venue's good, everything's good, they're not promoting it properly, it's a simple as that," he said. "These people that run the place should do a bit more, in the centre of Shanghai, you wouldn't even know there's a race here."

This year, for the second successive year, the event has no title sponsor.

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