What’s next: the German Grand Prix

Due to the financial and management turmoil at the Nürburgring, last year’s Formula One calendar didn’t include a German race for the first time since 1960. In a unique agreement, to spread the financial burden, the country’s two leading circuits share the hosting rights; the Nürburgring in the odd years and the Hockenheimring in the even years.

Due to the financial and management turmoil at the Nürburgring, last year’s Formula One calendar didn’t include a German race for the first time since 1960. In a unique agreement, to spread the financial burden, the country’s two leading circuits share the hosting rights; the Nürburgring in the odd years and the Hockenheimring in the even years.

Despite the efforts of Bernie Ecclestone, who claimed to have offered a 50 per cent discount on the usual price, a late offer of assistance from Mercedes-Benz and the possibility of the Hockenheimin hosting out of sync the German Grand Prix for 2015, the race was cancelled.

Formula One will return to the Hockenheim this year and organisers will be hoping to avoid repeating the well-documented hiccups that blighted and ultimately annulled last year’s Nürburgring race.  

Historically, the Hockenheimring was one of the fastest circuits in Formula One, however after a raft of safety issues it was transformed into a venue which required a less extreme set-up in in 2002. The heavily revised track, designed by Tilke GmbH & Co, is now two-thirds the length of the original, only the twisty ‘Motodrom’ section at the end of the lap remains from the original circuit.

The attendance for the 2014 race was believed to be around 55,000 people, which is well under half of Hockenheim’s capacity. Though no one has been able to pinpoint the exact reasons for this drop off, some race goers have cited a lack of a German interest in the race and expensive tickets as reasons.

Hockenheim-Ring GmbH is the promoter of the race and has a contract with FOM that will run until 2018 – or for two more editions. Included in that deal is ‘an agreement where the Formula One Administration (FOA) and the Hockenheim-Ring GmbH will share participation in the entrepreneurial opportunities and risks of the event’, according to the circuit management.

Strong starts to the 2016 season from German drivers Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg would go some of the way to improving fan demand, which has been on the slide since seven time champion Michael Schumacher retired. There is, however, more trepidation than optimism from Formula One insiders that Hockenheim will get it right and fill the grandstands in July.

Georg Seiler, the managing director of Hockenheim, speaking in 2015, warned: “Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to influence buying patterns.”

Formula One traditionalist Seiler added, with a note of caution: “A partial return to the golden days of Formula One, with less technology and simpler rules, would also be worth working towards.”

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