Bernie Ecclestone says he stands by his decision to take Formula 1 into new territories around the world.

The former F1 commercial rights holder insisted that he believed deals to hold Grand Prix events in Bahrain, China and Russia had benefited the sport.

In an interview with Sky Sports News’ Craig Slater, Ecclestone pointed out that he’d started the process in the 1980s with a race that’s now considered a stalwart of the championship.

“When I put the race in Hungary, it was behind the Iron Curtain. The contracts and the deals I made were with the KGB, as it happens.

“I wanted to get out of Europe. The world is a bit bigger than Europe. That’s why I think it’s good we’re in Russia and Baku and wherever.”

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Ecclestone said that money hadn’t played a part in deciding to expand the sport into nations that have frequently been criticised by human rights groups.

“Would we have gone to these places, these countries, if they’d paid the same sort of price as Europeans? And the answer is yes.

“I hope they don’t hear this and feel like I’ve ripped them off a bit!” he added. “They’re more or less all over 21 these people. And they all appear quite happy with the deal.

“It suited them and it suited us.”

But as new races have been added the the calendar, old favourites have dropped away. The latest under threat is Brazil, which Ecclestone said that hew Formula 1 boss Chase Carey had asked him to intervene.

“The only thing Chase has asked me to do is – he knew I’m going this weekend to Brazil to have a chat again with the president and see if I can persuade him to put some money into the race in Brazil.

“Otherwise it’s possible we’re going to lose that race. Which I wouldn’t like to do as I put it there 45-odd years ago and it’s a good race.”

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