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Ecclestone hopes every race will be like a wet race

Formula One Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone leaves the High Court in central London November 6, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Formula One Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone leaves the High Court in central London November 6, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville

By Keith Weir

LONDON (Reuters) - Bernie Ecclestone is looking forward to an unpredictable 2014 season when new engines threaten to overturn the established order, the Formula One boss said on Monday.

Ecclestone, 83, said he would be able to keep on top of running the sport despite going on trial for bribery in Germany next month.

He also added he did not think that CVC, the largest shareholder in Formula One with a 35 percent stake, planned to sell its holding.

"I hope every race is going to be like a wet race," Ecclestone told Reuters in a telephone interview when asked about prospects for the new season which opens in Melbourne on Sunday. "Unpredictable is the word."

Formula One is facing the biggest technical change for years following the introduction of a new turbocharged V6 engine with energy recovery systems.

All eyes are on Red Bull and champion Sebastian Vettel to see if they can maintain their dominance after struggling in pre-season testing.

Ecclestone's enthusiasm for the new season seems undiminished despite the court case that will take up some of his attention from late April and could run until September.

"We will attend as and when we have to, a couple of days a week," he said of the trial, adding that such a schedule should not disrupt the business too much.

"We'll be able to deal with that internally."

Ecclestone could be jailed if convicted in a case linked to the sale of a stake in the business in 2005. CVC has also said it will fire him if he is found guilty of wrongdoing.

Despite his age and legal problems, Ecclestone gave no indication he was preparing to step aside or was ready to hand over to a successor.

"At the moment I'm quite fit. I wouldn't say that this was going to be one of my last seasons," he said.

Media reports last month said U.S. groups Liberty Global and Discovery Communications had approached CVC about buying a major stake in Formula One but Ecclestone played down the talk.

"They (CVC) don't want to sell out," he said.

Ecclestone was in the Black Sea resort of Sochi at the weekend, the Winter Olympic venue which will stage a grand prix for the first time in October.

"We're looking in great shape, they've done a good job," he said of preparations, suggesting the Russian race could be fitted into an earlier slot in the 2015 calendar to make more of an impact.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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