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Ecclestone sees electric future as F1 celebrates 1,000th race

Bernie Ecclestone may have been to more Formula One grands prix than any man alive, but if the former supremo could shed the years and start over, he says he would probably embrace electric.

As the sport noisily celebrates its 1,000th world championship race at Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix, the 88-year-old Briton - who once lambasted the current F1 engines as too quiet - spoke of a more silent future.

Formula E, he said, was sure to grow with manufacturer involvement.

"It's a different form of entertainment but Formula E will begin to get much, much bigger and better, which is slowly what they are doing anyway," he told Reuters on Wednesday.

"And Formula One will suffer because of that."

Asked which he would choose if 50 years younger and given the opportunity to run either, the Briton replied: "My heart and everything is always with Formula One, so I'd have to say Formula One. But I'd be a little bit concerned about Formula E for sure."

And if the head held sway over the heart, considering it purely as a business proposition?

"I think I'd have to say Formula E," he replied. "There's more chance there of big, big expansion and more chances commercially than there is of changing things in Formula One."

For decades, Ecclestone was Mr Formula One, the man who transformed the sport into today's billion-dollar business.

Moved aside in 2017 when US-based Liberty Media took control, and given the title of chairman emeritus, he will not be in Shanghai.

Asked about who will win this year, Ecclestone said his money was still on Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, although he could see five-time champion Lewis Hamilton matching Michael Schumacher's record of seven championships and 91 wins.

"I thought Vettel was going to win easy," he said of a prediction that has looked shaky since team mate Charles Leclerc outshone the German in Bahrain.

"I (still) think he's going to win. But not easy." - REUTERS