The chief of the Bahrain grand prix has denied suggestions that Middle Eastern neighbour Abu Dhabi’s newly unveiled formula one deal is bad news.
Some observers think that the addition of a second race in the region will detract from the prestige of the Bahrain event, staged on the unique desert-located Sakhir track since 2004.
Abu Dhabi will join the calendar in 2009, when an exclusivity clause in Bahrain’s contract – protecting its right to host the only formula one race in the region – has run out.
Sakhir general manager Martin Whitaker insisted: “A second formula one race will be good for the sport, for the economy of the two countries and the profile of the Middle East on the formula one circuit.
“It will increase the fan base and awareness of the sport in the entire region.”
It was announced last week that Bahrain had signed a new contract to stage a GP “deep into the next” decade.
Bahrain will also continue to host its race early in the annual calendar, while it is understood that the Abu Dhabi GP will be run in September or October.
Bernie Ecclestone said in Abu Dhabi: “I am sure that Bahrain and Abu Dhabi will work closely together to make sure formula one is very successful in this part of the world.”