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Nurburgring deal could be agreed in days

NEWS STORY
08/01/2013

Less than a month before the first pre-season test, there is still uncertainty as to who will host the German round of the 2013 world championship.

Indeed, not only is the German event uncertain, it is still not known what, if any, race will fill the July 21 void left when the German race was moved back in order to place it back-to-back with the British Grand Prix. Initially it was hoped that Turkey would return to the calendar but with the government unwilling to pick up the tab this too is in doubt.

With Hockenheim and the Nurburgring hosting the German race on a bi-annual footing, this year's race should have taken place at the latter. However, doubt was cast over the race as a result of a dispute between its operator, NAG, and its owner, Nurburgring GmbH, over lease fees. The quarrel seemed to spell the end for the historic Rhineland circuit as a Formula One venue.

Indeed, in the calendar issued by the World Motor Sport Council in September, Hockenheim was scheduled to host this year's race though this too was put in doubt when it was revealed that the organisers had not held formal talks with Bernie Ecclestone about staging the event.

"It is the case that we are, of course, in constant contact but it has never led to negotiations on a Formula One event in Hockenheim in 2013," Hockenheim mayor Dieter Gummer told the Deutsche Presse Agentur.

Complicating matters further is the fact that the Nurburgring is expected to be auctioned early this year with NAG interested in bidding for the venue. However as its operator NAG could be considered to have an unfair advantage in the sale process should it purchase the circuit while leasing it from its current owners.

Current owners, Nurburgring GmbH, is majority owned by the Rhineland-Palatinate state which has attempted to settle the venue's future with the help of bridging finance. In August EU regulators increased its investigation in to the state-funded support the circuit has received.

Talking to Reuters Alan Baldwin however, Ecclestone says he believes a deal with the Nurburgring might be done as early as next week.

"It should be the Nuerburgring and we are trying to make it happen," said Ecclestone. "I'm talking with them today."

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