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Ecclestone: 'I'll run F1 until I die'

From Amanda Davies and Tom McGowan, CNN
updated 9:30 AM EDT, Fri May 25, 2012
  • Bernie Ecclestone tells CNN he intends to run Formula One until he dies
  • The octogenarian has been running the sport for the last 30 years
  • Ecclestone hopes grands prix in France and a second race in the U.S. can be agreed
  • The 81-year-old defends the decision to host a race in Bahrain last month

(CNN) -- After more than half a century involved in motorsport, and three decades at the helm of Formula One, Bernie Ecclestone has no plans to quit just yet.

In fact, the 81-year-old has told CNN that he will be in charge for as long as he lives.

"It'll probably depend a lot (on) when I die," Ecclestone said ahead of this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix when asked about his retirement plans.

"You never know, do you, with these things. I mean, it's not my intention to do such a thing. If I thought I couldn't do all the things I do, then the answer would be then we'd certainly consider it. At the moment it's not quite like that."

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Despite his age, Ecclestone is keeping himself very busy -- both personally and professionally.

Earlier this month he announced his engagement to Brazilian Fabiani Flosi, 46 years his junior.

He has also set his sights on further extending Formula One's global reach, having announced an agreement with the teams to continue racing under a Concorde Agreement until 2020.

Austin, Texas will make its debut as grand prix venue in November, as the sport returns to the U.S. for the first time since 2007.

India was introduced to F1 last year, with the Russian city of Sochi set to host a race in 2014 -- the same year the Black Sea resort will stage the Winter Olympics.

"It's good to have an American base," Ecclestone said. "We are a world championship, so why not? We have races in other parts of the world so we should have maybe another race in America."

On the possibility of France hosting a race for the first time since 2008, he added: "I think maybe the election that has taken place might have put that back a bit. When that all settles down I'm sure we'll get back on track -- literally," referring to Francois Hollande's recent presidential victory.

"I think you will have to wait and see if we see more. Only time will tell."

Should Formula One be so unpredictable?

Ecclestone has been criticized for his determination to go ahead with the recent Bahrain Grand Prix, despite political unrest in the Gulf kingdom.

But Eccleston cited the riots in London as an example of how social unrest does not necessarily mean a country should forfeit its right to host a race.

We have races in other parts of the world so we should have maybe another race in America
Bernie Ecclestone

"I'd hate to lose the British race, for a start," he explained. "We've seen what happened there at the end of last year, all those disturbances and all the other things that happen all over the world.

"I don't know where we'd have to find a nice place to race where there is no problem. It wouldn't be easy."

One arena F1 has not managed to enter is the Olympic Games, but Ecclestone revealed that talks over the seemingly far-fetched possibility have been held.

"I spoke to the former president, Mr. (Juan Antonio) Samaranch, years ago about this and we decided it was wrong to have mechanical sport involved. In fact I discussed it with the new president (Jacques Rogge) a year ago.

"They keep adding things in which I don't believe are Olympic things, so maybe it's possible. It would be nice to see it happen."

The current F1 season's first five races have produced five different winners for the first time since 1983.

A major factor in the sport's current unpredictability has been the new Pirelli tires -- the team which masters the rapidly degrading rubber usually emerges victorious.

They keep adding things in which I don't believe are Olympic things so maybe it's possible
Bernie Ecclestone

Seven-time world champion and Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher has been heavily critical of the tires, telling CNN they are like driving on "raw eggs," but Ecclestone praised the work done by the Italian manufacturer.

"I asked Pirelli if they could make a tire that would only run for a third of the race, which is a lot more difficult than making a tire that will run the whole race. That's easily done; it can run five races if you like.

"But to make one that will only run that distance is difficult. They've done a fantastic job and that's what has made this racing so exciting."

When reflecting on his contribution to F1, Ecclestone was relaxed when asked if he has received enough credit for what he has given to the sport, responding: "I get what I deserve, I suppose."

And what is it that keeps the Englishman going after so long at the forefront of an ever-expanding business?

"Job satisfaction."

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