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F1 Boss Bernie Ecclestone Says 'No Problem With Melbourne' Photo:

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Peter Anderson | Feb, 26 2013 | 1 Comment

Formula One head Bernie Ecclestone says his organisation has no reservations about Melbourne hosting the big race.

Speaking two weeks before the season opener in Melbourne, the Briton was upbeat about the event.

“We hope we’re going to be in Melbourne forever. We’re happy with Melbourne and I’d be happy to sign a 50-year contract. We don’t have a problem with Melbourne,” he said.

The current contract for the race expires in 2015. At home, growing disquiet on the cost of the race to the Victorian taxpayer - rumoured to be in the region of $40m this year - has the commitment to the event of the Victorian Government in question.

Also unsettling its political critics is that the contract with Ecclestone is reported to include a ten percent inflation every year.

"I understand we do get a little bit of criticism. I don’t know why. You start wondering if we're really wanted in Melbourne," Ecclestone said.

"It appears to be [wanted] now; whenever these sorts of things happen I’m told don’t be silly about that, it’s just one or two people making a noise."

Formula One is about to enter its longest season yet, a 20-race calendar, assuming the gap between Britain and Belgium is filled and Bahrain remains peaceful.

Since the Melbourne race joined the calendar in 1996, classic circuits such as San Marino, Belgium, Hockenheim, the Nurburgring and Magny-Cours have dropped off the roster.

Some have disappeared permanently, due to financial demands or various of the conditions imposed by Ecclestone's Formula One Management.

These slots have been picked up by Asian or Middle Eastern countries, with Malaysia, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Singpapore India and South Korea joining.

A second US race is expected next year, as is the new Russian race in Moscow.

While Ecclestone reportedly favours a night race for the Melbourne event (as in Singapore) to better suit European television audiences, such a move is opposed by the Victorian Government and the Grand Prix Corporation.

The 2013 Australian Grand Prix will take place 17th March.

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