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Bernie lines up Imola until 2001

THE Societa Allestimento Gestione Impiante e Servizi (SAGIS) at Imola has signed a new contract with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone for the San Marino Grand Prix to be held at the circuit until after the race in the year 2001.

SAGIS rents the Autodromo Enzo & Dino Ferrari from the Imola local authority and runs events at the track on behalf of the Automobile Club of Bologna.

The deal with Imola is the latest in a series of new five-year deals which have been put in place in recent months by Ecclestone as he prepares for the privatization of his Formula 1 Holdings company.

The number of solid deals for the next five years may give the sport a secure future, but it makes life more difficult for FIA President Max Mosley who was elected on the platform of making the World Championship a more global series and less concentrated in Europe. This he has singularly failed to do and with long-term deals in place the only way the series can become more global is to increase the number of races - which the teams do not want. Mosley faces re-election as FIA President in October this year and will, no doubt, be pushing Ecclestone to have a calendar for 1998 by then - featuring several new races outside Europe.

The announcement is bad news for Ferrari, which has been campaigning for a Grand Prix to be held at its Mugello facility near Florence as both Monza - home of the Italian GP - and Imola now have five-year contracts with Ecclestone.

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