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Ecclestone: 'Australia as important as Monaco'

Bernie Ecclestone has backtracked over his previous comments that Formula One "does not need" Australia, by naming the grand prix as one of the most important on the race calendar. Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle recently raised concerns over the high cost of hosting the race as being too expensive for the city, and suggested that they shouldn’t renew their Formula 1 contract when it expires in 2015. Ecclestone responded to Doyle’s comments immediately saying that F1 didn't need to be in Australia, and that it could be dropped to accommodate new races. However, after FIA president, Jean Todt said he backed the Melbourne race yesterday; Ecclestone has now surprisingly backtracked over his earlier comments to agree with Todt. "Australia is just as important to us as Monaco and has been for an awful long time," ESPNF1 reports Ecclestone as saying. "So we hate to think that we were going to lose Australia. We have been together a long time and it's like one of those long marriages; it would be bad to end in divorce." Although, despite his desire to keep the race, Ecclestone did say that he wouldn't be looking to reduce the cost in order for Albert Park to stay on the calendar. "If the other partner wishes, we wouldn't start fighting. In the case of Melbourne, if the product is too expensive for them then we understand that. And when the contract comes to an end, there is no need to renew it. We wouldn't force somebody to buy something they don't want."

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