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German Grand Prix "in trouble" says Ecclestone

NEWS STORY
05/03/2014

Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that the future of the German Grand Prix has been put in doubt after a $50m bid he made for the Nurburgring was rejected according to an article in the CityAM newspaper by Christian Sylt.

The track alternates every year with the Hockenheimring as the location of the German Grand Prix and ran into difficulty after taking out a $370m loan in 2009. The debt was used to fund construction of an on-site shopping mall, hotel and amusement park.

However, the new facilities were not as popular as hoped and the circuit struggled to make debt repayments. It was then handed additional public support but, in an unexpected twist, the European Commission launched an investigation claiming that the assistance was not granted on market terms. To solve the problem the Nurburgring was put up for sale in May last year and Ecclestone says he made a bid which would have secured the future of the track and the race.

"The German Grand Prix is in trouble because they haven't got any money. It is in trouble because it used to be supported by the council but now the European Commission has said that people can't use that sort of money for this sort of thing.

"Nurburgring cost $370 million to build and I offered them $50 million. You have got a massive facility, nice hotels, a lot of land, a lot of buildings and the race track. It's a good investment."

The three remaining bidders reportedly include an American group, German automotive company Capricorn and investment firm H.I.G. Capital. Ecclestone says that a decision will be made on the new owner today.

"On Wednesday they are going to make up their mind whether they are going to accept the offers. None is from me. When I go to an auction I want to leave a bid, which is what I did, and somebody could offer more. I don't know what's happening there. We will see. I just said to them clearly you tell me how much you want and I will tell you whether I want to buy."

Ecclestone adds that the race is safe this year as it will take place at the Hockenheimring but the venue is not a long-term solution. The reason that the German Grand Prix needed to alternate its venue is that neither of them agreed to host the race every year.

In 2013 the F1 Group gave the Nurburgring an additional boost as it agreed to waive the estimated $22m fee for the race and instead took the revenue from ticket sales to the 52,000 spectators. "Last year we took the money they got from the gate," says Ecclestone. "We aren't going to do that this year because it is a different place. They can pay."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by The stogie, 07/03/2014 2:28

"If Bernie drops the Ring because his offer wasn't high enough the series is in trouble. Stop going to the sand traps and go to the REAL racetracks. That decision shouldn't even be open for debate. Just make sure that 'The Ring is In'!!!!!"

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Spindoctor, 05/03/2014 11:52

"Presumably it'll be replaced by Azerbaijan, if the Daily Mail is to be believed (rarely in my experience!)
More seriously it moves F1 further out of its "heartlands" in Europe, and probably further into areas with no history of, nor indeed any apparent enthusiasm for F1.
Instead of Germany will we see another race in a country ruled by a despot, on a soulless track which will host a boring race with half-empty stands? Probably.

Bernie's financial demands make profitably hosting a GP extremely difficult for circuits in the developed world. Only states hoping to secure some kind of "respectability" are prepared to pay the insane amounts demanded."

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