Bernie Ecclestone to miss F1 season opener

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The Independent Online

Organisers of this weekend's Australian Grand Prix say the absence of Formula One powerbroker Bernie Ecclestone from the season opener should not be read as the death knell for the event.

Ecclestone will not attend the Melbourne race but will instead be in New York to hold talks with its mayor Michael Bloomberg about a possible future race on Staten Island.

Ecclestone had expressed impatience at the local government's complaints about the cost of staging the Mebourne race, as well as the seeming impossibility of making it a night event to suit European television audiences.

Melbourne mayor Robert Doyle said Tuesday that "it is reasonable that we have a discussion about the grand prix when the time comes, which is when the licence fee is up again."