It has been announced this week that the long-term future of the German Grand Prix remains under threat unless fans turn out in numbers to support next year’s race at Hockenheim.
This weekend was supposed to be when the 2015 edition of the German race was staged at the Nurburgring, however the grand prix was cancelled in March (which has alternated as the host of the event with Hockenheim since 2007); failed to agree a deal with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.
Although Hockenheim decided it was not financially viable to step in to save the 2015 event, the circuit always made clear their expected the race to return as scheduled to their track for 2016 and the German GP was included on the 21 race provisional calendar published by the FIA last week.
However, despite Mercedes’ continued dominate F1 and Sebastian Vettel’s four titles on the spin from 2010-13; spectator numbers have steadily decreased at Hockenheim over recent years.
Just 50,000 fans witnessed home driver Nico Rosberg’s victory last season – a far cry from the 100,000 crowd the circuit routinely pulled in during Michael Schumacher’s heyday.
And while Germany may be back on the calendar for 2016, the boss of Hockenheim has urged fans to come back to the race to ensure next season’s isn’t a permanent swansong. In an interview with the media this week, Hockenheim’s Managing Director Georg Seiler has stated that they need the Grand Prix sold out next year in order to keep hosting the sport in Germany and in Hockenheim. Seiler stated the following:-
‘We need a well filled house next year so that Formula 1 has a future. We must tell the fans: come to the race next year and secure the future of F1 at Hockenheim.’
It is clear that Seiler knows what they need to do in order to keep the circuit and Germany as a country in the Formula One calendar and if they cannot get enough fans in to make the money that they need to; then their future is not looking good. As I have already stated in previous articles on the subject, the economic climate isn’t the best and if the money can’t be generated then sadly they will have to pull the plug unfortunately.
Even though Hockenheim has a contract for both 2016 and 2018, dpa reports that the venue would consider stepping in for 2017 too if the Nurburgring’s financial problems continue.
Seiler added that he was “very optimistic” that next year’s race would draw a strong crowd after a year’s absence – the first time Germany hasn’t featured on the F1 calendar since 1960.The 2016 race is scheduled for July 31 in its usual back-to-back position with Hungary.
While that might be the case; it is clear in conclusion that Germany have to pull out all the stops to try and keep the case on the calendar and also make the money needed to host a world class event. We cannot afford to lose Hockenheim as it has given us some great races over the years and it can once again.
If Silverstone can keep their fans happy by allowing them more access to the sport with autograph sessions, pitwalks and cheaper tickets, they can do the same. If that is what it is needed to remain in the sport; then they might have to do so. Because the benefits that F1 can bring to a country is huge and Germany cannot afford to lose that.
But they need to act now and also very quickly to make sure that F1 remains in Germany and we don’t have a repeat of this year for the foreseeable future. As F1 needs Germany and F1 also needs them too as one of a few tracks with a glorious and successful track record of producing some fantastic memories for their fans and also the sport that can never be erased.