Whilst the future of the French Grand Prix is beginning to appear a little rosier with moves afoot to build a new circuit close to Paris, it has been announced by contrast that the prospects of the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim falling off the Formula 1 calendar are 'quite realistic'.
A meeting is set to take place next Wednesday regarding the Baden-Württemberg venue's fate, with the rising costs of welcoming the world's most expensive sport understood to be becoming unsustainable for a country whose greatest motor racing hero – legendary seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher – retired from active competition more than two years ago.
Asked whether Hockenheim – which has hosted the German Grand Prix on no fewer than 31 occasions since making its F1 debut back in 1970 – is truly at risk of losing the race, circuit boss Karl-Josef Schmidt replied: “At the moment that is not only conceivable, but quite a realistic scenario.”
Whilst the sport's commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone has insisted that he is not 'stupid enough' to sit back and allow grand prix promoters to go out of business, he added in an interview with German news agency SID
: “It would be unfortunate if Hockenheim disappears from the calendar, but this is a matter for the [local] government.”
Meanwhile, as construction work nears on a new track at Flins-Les-Mureaux, north-east of Paris, it is hoped in France that F1 will return to the country in 2011. The French Grand Prix finally disappeared off the schedule this season following years of threats by Ecclestone to take it away from the unpopular Magny-Cours circuit, which had hosted the sport's most historic event every year since 1991.
However, when asked if the new project will lead to France being re-instated on the calendar, the top flight's ringmaster offered no guarantees.
“I don't know,” the 78-year-old commented. “There are still the protests of the nearby residents and the mayor. However, the prime minister supports the project, which is very important.”