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German GP under threat again.


Despite their heavy involvement in Formula One, neither BMW or Mercedes appears willing to get involved in the political minefield of preventing Hockenheim from becoming the next circuit from dropping off the grand prix calendar.

Reports from Germany over the weekend returned to the financial plight facing the historic venue, which claimed that it will not be able to host the German Grand Prix beyond the end of its current contract without state help. And the problem goes beyond Hockenheim, which currently shares Germany's F1 date with the Nurburgring, as its rival also appears unwilling to stretch its own resources by stepping in to run a race every year.

The position marks a dramatic turnaround for F1 in Germany, with both Hockenheim and the Nurburgring featuring on the calendar during the height of Michael Schumacher's career. Since the seven-time world champion announced his retirement, however, neither has been able to attract similar attendance levels and have since come to an agreement to share the country's presence on the calendar.

Now, though, Hockenheim is claiming that it will not be able to continue its role as host of the German Grand Prix - the Nurburgring is currently prevented from using that title as it is operated by a rival motoring organisation and, until 2008, staged the European or Luxembourg grands prix - without financial help from local or national government.

"Without grants from [Baden-Wuerttemberg], there will be no more Formula One at Hockenheim," circuit manager Karl-Josef Schmidt told Der Tagesspiegel over the weekend, "[Without it], Formula One will disappear, not just from Hockenheim, but from Germany as a whole. Then [F1] will only be run in Arab countries."

According to reports, Hockenheim made a E5.3m loss on this year's grand prix alone - despite the circuit using profits made from other race meetings and other racing activities, such as schools, that it runs - and Schmidt has joined the chorus claiming that Formula One Management is now charging too much for the rights to host a round of the world championship. Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Indianapolis and Magny-Cours have already cited financial reasons for not appearing on next year's F1 calendar, while even the Shanghai International Circuit has claimed that it is being stretched financially, although reports of it threatening to drop F1 have been dismissed by management.

However, despite the possibility of losing the passing trade that the grand prix brings to the region, the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg has said the it would be unwilling to assume the circuit's losses, and now both BMW and Mercedes have admitted that they would be reluctant to get involved, despite Hockenheim mayor Dieter Gummer suggesting that they may be the last hope of keeping the circuit on the schedule.

"Commercial conditions are something for the FOM and the organiser - it is here that a solution must be found," BMW insisted, while Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug insisted that the Stuttgart marque did not want to become embroiled in 'the economic and political factors' connected with a grand prix.

While Hockenheim warns that it may not even make it to the next German GP, scheduled for 2010, the Nurburgring has intimated that it would be prepared to continue to host an F1 race - but only every two years. The Eifel circuit's contract runs through to 2011, but it remains to be seen whether FOM wants to accept that Germany would only feature on alternate seasons.



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Just a Fan - Unregistered

December 02, 2008 9:01 AM

Seems to me the area F1 REALLY needs to cut costs in is in the fees Ecclestone and Co. charge to hold a GP... this is what?.. the 3rd(?) GP venue to announce that without outside financial help it will have to give up hosting them?... Either F1 is no where near as popular as the F1 propaganda brigade is trying to make out or Bernie & "friends" are taking far to much money for themselves

Mark _

December 02, 2008 5:56 PM
Last Edited 264 days ago

The whole structure needs to change. Let Bernie keep the gate money and pay a track rental fee. The track could also get income from parking fees and concessions. It is Bernie's responsibility to market F1 so let him get the rewards or risk from the TV and the gate income. The tracks should not be losing money. With France, Canada, USA, Germany, and most likely GB to disappear from the calendar it is hardly the series that attracted us to the sport in the first place. If Belgium and Italy were to go, there literally would be almost nothing left of the original F1.



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