As the F1 fraternity heads for Hockenheim this weekend, they do knowing that it could be for the last German Grand Prix
for some time.
This weekend's host circuit is currently enjoying a date share agreement with old rival the Nurburgring, which stages the race on odd-numbered years but has long reported financial struggles that could make welcoming F1 impossible. And, with Hockenheim hardly a picture of monetary health - at least to the point of being able to stage the grand prix on an annual basis again - the future of the event has to be in some doubt.
Although there appear to be plenty of countries queuing up to take Germany's place on the schedule, the race is one of the oldest and - like France, Britain and Italy - almost deserves a slot each year. However, France has already disappeared from the calendar, and both Britain and Italy have faced their own issues in recent years.
The Nurburgring's problem has been exacerbated by the European Union's refusal to agree to a bail-out that would prevent the facility from tumbling into administration. According to the Rhein-Zeitung
newspaper, the money - rumoured to have been around €13m - was to have been used to service interest on a €300m loan received from the state-owned Bank of Rhineland-Palatinate.
Currently, the state government owns approximately 90 per cent of the circuit's holding company, Nurburgring
GmbH, and leases the facility long-term to Nurburgring
Automotive GmbH. The Social Democratic Party has invested around €500m in redeveloping the circuit and improving facilities over the last decade, but, having lost its political majority, is unlikely to provide any more funding. State governor Kurt Beck has already revealed that the government is poised to launch insolvency proceedings, possibly as early as the end of the month.
The Nurburging's plight comes despite FOM having agreed to reduce the amount it pays to host the race on its biennial basis. The race first joined the world championship in 1951 and has been a staple almost ever since, only not appearing in 1955 and not being a part of the schedule in 1960. The 2007 event, meanwhile, was designated as the European GP.