Bahrain chiefs keen on opening F1 season

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The management at Bahrain International Circuit has revealed that it is looking to host the opening grand prix of the season permanently.

The track in Sakhir heralded the return of Formula One after the winter break in 2006 (due to Melbourne hosting the Commonwealth Games), and in 2010. However, following the cancellation of the race in 2011, Bahrain has returned to its original placement as the fourth race on the calendar. This could all be set to change though, according to circuit chairman Zayed Alzayani.

“It’s a good start to the season,” Alzayani told Reuters.

“It gives us the chance to have the teams here longer, there is more anticipation, more unknowns, how the cars will react to the new tires, the regulations, the drivers are just back into their rhythm.

“But the decision is not entirely ours. We are talking about 2014 onwards but it’s a bit early to talk about the calendar for 2014.”

Bernie Ecclestone has welcomed the idea, although he did concede that the teams would have to be consulted.

“The only problem we have – not us, but the teams – is the cost of the logistics in coming here and going back to Europe,” Ecclestone said.

However, to get around this, Ecclestone would arrange a pre-season test to be held in Bahrain to make the race more convenient.

“That is one of the advantages of having the first race, in that they can come to the last test and then leave most of their equipment here until race weekend.

“So if we go after the first race, then we will go after a test as well but again that is not our decision.”

The opening race of the season has traditionally been held at Albert Park in Australia, but with their officials uncertain of the future of the grand prix, Bahrain could be set to open the F1 season from 2014 onwards. The timing of the race in Bahrain is also more suited to American and European audiences, which would probably be reflected in the viewing figures.

MORE: Watch FP2, qualifying and the Bahrain Grand Prix online or on your phone or tablet

Alonso would be ‘very happy’ to finish F1 career with McLaren

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Fernando Alonso says he would be “very happy” to see out his Formula 1 career with McLaren after signing a new multi-year contract with the British team, announced on Thursday.

Alonso, 36, ended speculation about his future by agreeing a new deal with McLaren, hopeful of returning to the front of the field next year when the team swaps Honda power for Renault engines.

Alonso admitted to considering options outside of F1 before agreeing to stay at McLaren, and was thought to only be chasing a one-year extension in order to be in a position to snap up a more attractive seat in the volatile 2019 market.

However, Alonso confirmed in an interview with the official F1 website that the deal with McLaren stretched beyond the end of next year, adding he would be content to see out his time in the sport with the team.

“I never talk about contracts, but one thing I can say is it is a long-term partnership,” Alonso said.

“I am very happy to finish my career at McLaren. So I don’t think it is going to be only one year.”

Alonso also revealed he had options with teams high up the field in F1 for 2018 just a couple of months ago, but was always leaning to staying at McLaren despite not scoring a podium with the team in almost three years.

“There were some other options in F1. In the summer there were still some options at the top teams, but my desire was to stay with McLaren,” Alonso said.

“But at that time they were in conversation with different engine suppliers, so I had to give them time to sort out their situation.

“Then McLaren opted for a Renault engine which delayed my decision, because I had to understand what Renault’s plans were for next years.

“But when I had everything on the table, everything was pretty clear.”