Fears for German GP


With the future of both the French and British Grands Prix very much in doubt, there are now fears that Europe could lose yet another race.

Officials at the Nurburgring have admitted that should Hockenheim be unable to host a race every second year, as per the current arrangement, it too would struggle financially, leading to Germany being unable to host a round of the World Championship.

"We can not afford that," Nurburgring general manager Walter Kafitz told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) at the weekend.

Despite German drivers filling twenty-five percent of the grid, the swathes of empty grandstand seats at this year's GP at Hockenheim were obvious and somewhat embarrassing.

The lack of revenue from ticket sales, the ever increasing demands from FOM for F1 licence fees and the threat that the state of Baden-Wurttemberg, where the track is located, will not provide financial backing for Hockenheim has left organizers considering their future in F1.

"There will be no more Formula One in Hockenheim without state funds," Hockenheim boss Josef Schmidt told Der Tagesspiegel on Sunday.

The last time that Germany was missing from the F1 calendar was in 1960, while at the height of Schumacher-mania Germans had two rounds of the championship.

However, this year's race saw Hockenheim face a loss of 4.1m ($6.3m), similar to the Nurburgring's loss in 2007. In 2010, when Hockenheim is next due to host the German GP, costs will have risen accordingly, thereby leaving organizers extremely concerned.

As well as having five drivers on the 2008 F1 grid, BMW and Mercedes are both at the front of the grid, while the Toyota operation is run out of Cologne.

The loss of another European event would be extremely damaging to the sport, no matter what Bernie Ecclestone might say about countries in the east clambering to get on board the F1 gravy train.

Ironically, at the height of Schumacher-mania, Germany had two races, as did Italy, now they both host one event apiece and are struggling. Meanwhile, courtesy of Fernando Alonso's success, Spain has two races, while Britain, 'home' of 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton remains very much in doubt as to whether it can continue with one.

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Published: 01/12/2008
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