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Bernie: 'Austria, you're safe!'

2014-06-23 12:05

AUSTRIA GP SECURE ON F1 CALENDAR: F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is impressed with Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz's work has done to revamp the old circuit in Austria. The event will see another 10 years on the F1 calender.Image: AP

SPIELBERG, Austria - Austria's new place on the F1 calendar is secure, Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed.

After the A1-Ring last held a grand prix in 2003, Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz bought the Spielberg venue and spent dozens of millions refurbishing it as the 'Red Bull Ring'.  The race has returned in 2014.

Some traffic chaos aside, Austria's return to the schedule has been warmly welcomed.

'GREAT JOB'

"People seem to like it here, which is very nice to see," said the ultra low-profile Mateschitz, who made a rare paddock appearance during the 2014 Austrian GP.

Even Niki Lauda, of Red Bull's arch rivals Mercedes, admitted on Saturday he is happy to see F1 back in his native country.

Triple Drivers' champion Lauda said: "Didi (Mateschitz) has done a great job here.

So good that even F1's chief executive is impressed. "It was important to have this race back," Ecclestone is quoted by the German daily Bild.

"It's good for the region and for F1."

The newspaper said the Red Bull Ring has a new contract with F1 that runs until 2020 - precisely the same length of Mateschitz's commitment to the sport with the reigning World champion team Red Bull Racing.

Ecclestone told the APA news agency: "As long as Dietrich and I want it, the race will be here. We plan our calendar for the long term."

"We need stability with regards to venues and dates," Ecclestone explained.  "In the next five years, the calendar will be relatively stable."

It is not known what annual fee Mateschitz is paying to Ecclestone, but the 83-year-old admitted it is less than some of the newer venues on the calendar like Abu Dhabi or Sochi.

"There is a difference (between them) and the traditional races," he said.

Ecclestone said he is happy with the rejuvenation work at the Red Bull Ring. "The old track was not nearly as good as it is now," he said. "It's amazing what Dietrich has done here."

Ecclestone also said Austria is an important gateway for F1 to nearby "Slovenia and Croatia".

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