28 January 2013
German GP off after Nurburgring talks end?
Could the German Grand Prix be facing an exit from the F1 world championship after talks between Bernie Ecclestone and the Nurburgring ground to a halt?
The on-off saga regarding the German Grand Prix appears to have veered back towards 'off' again after Bernie Ecclestone revealed that he had ended negotiations with the Nurburgring over the 2013 event.
The immediate future of the German round has been in doubt since last year's race at Hockenheim, with the Nurburgring going into administration amid financial problems stemming from the failed bid to construct a motorsport theme park alongside the storied track. Although hopes were raised that the circuit would be able to host the event in 2013, as scheduled by its sharing agreement with Hockenheim, Ecclestone has not apparently canned talks after realising that the funds do not exist to make it a viable option.
"We have stopped negotiations with private project developers Kai Richter and Jörg Lindner at the Nürburgring," Ecclestone was quoted by German media agency DPA, "After thorough examination of their proposal, we can't accept it because it is financially not feasible for us."
Although the possibility of reverting to Hockenheim remains – and the 2012 host has said that it would look into the possibility of running back-to-back races in spite of the costs involved – the very real prospect of the 2013 season dropping to 18 events remains. The postponement of the proposed race in New Jersey has already created a gap in the schedule that has attracted much speculation over potential replacements, albeit without a lot of concrete evidence that any are viable. With time ticking down towards both the opening test next week, and the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in early March, it may already be too late to start planning for an event to fill either the currently vacant 21 July slot or the one two weeks earlier, presently filled by Germany.
Seasoned F1 journalist Joe Saward considers that Ecclestone's withdrawal may be
'political posturing by the Formula One group' owing to a change of hands on the local government tiller, with Malu Dreyer taking over from pro-race proponent Kurt Beck, but also highlights the fact that this summer could be shorn of all but the Canadian, British, Hungarian and Belgian rounds. Ironically, the venue removed to make way for New Jersey – the street circuit in Valencia – is now reported to be falling into disrepair, despite ambitious claims to want to share future Spanish GPs with the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.
Portugal is the latest country to suggest that it may be interested in filling the gap(s) but, like France, Austria and Turkey before it, there does not appear to be much substance behind the 'bid'. As Saward points out, with Russia and New Jersey both scheduled to debut in 2014, why would any other country want to invest in what could be a one-off appearance on the calendar?
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