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  • Writer's pictureTereza Černá

Why Germany doesn’t host Formula 1 races anymore


Germany, a country famous for their talented drivers across many categories, great race tracks and top level teams. The German Grand Prix has been a necessity on the F1 calendar for decades, but why is it not anymore?
 

Germany and the UK are the two top countries that contribute to F1 the most. 5 out of 10 of the current team principals have German as their mother tongue, which only shows how representative Germany and German speaking countries are in the sport.


Motorsport is regarded very highly in Germany, the country itself is home to 1 Formula 1 team, 2 current F1 drivers, 1 reserve driver, hundreds of other drivers and many championships. Besides hosting races of their own championships (like DTM and ADAC GT Masters), they host a Formula E race, 24 hours of Nurburgring, GT World Challenge races and many motorcycle races. But why isn’t Formula 1 on the list? Why is the only open wheel championship (besides Formula E) the slowly dying ADAC Formula 4?


Out of 12 tracks in Germany, only 2 have the FIA grade 1 (which means that they are able to host F1 races); Nurburgring and Hockenheimring. Both have hosted multiple Grand Prix’s in the past. The last race at Hockenheimring was the tragic German Grand Prix of 2019, that most of us would just like to forget (it closely resembled ice skating). Nurburgring hosted its last race quite unexpectedly in 2020 when a new calendar had to be put together as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. But at that point it was not called the German Grand Prix anymore, but the Eifel Grand Prix. For many years both tracks made it on the calendar in the same season. To this day Germany is the second country to host the highest number of Formula 1 races - only losing to Italy.


The fans

According to Racefans.net the problem is that the country loved its championship winning drivers more than the sport itself. It is true that the love for Formula 1 skyrocketed in the early 2000s when Michael Schumacher was winning every other race and the championship every year. The love was then reintroduced in the 2010s when Sebastian Vettel was dominating the field. However when Nico Rosberg won with a German manufacturer in 2016, the jump of support was not as high as before.


Now, the only German drivers in F1 are Mick Schumacher who has yet to score points and Sebastian Vettel who is nearing the end of his career. The fields of the feeder series lack German drivers and naturally Germans don’t have a dominating driver to support, after years of having some.


A similar problem might appear in the Netherlands in a few years. As of now (March 2022) the Dutch Grand Prix that takes place at Zandvoort is sold out for the next 3 years. Vast majority of dutch fans are fans of Max Verstappen.


It is no secret that the arrival of Max Verstappen to Formula 1 was largely awaiten, as he was marketed as the next F1 sensation ever since he started karting in Holland in the early 2000s. "Already, columnists would regularly write; ‘We are waiting for Max.’" says James Gray (2021) in his book about the newly crowned world champion, when he barely just started karting in his home country before the age of 10.


Max Verstappen is the first Dutch world champion and has been at the top of the F1 field for a few years now, creating the ‘orange army’ as his fans call themselves (they actually do resemble one at certain European races). He is young, talented and in a top team - he’s very visible in the world of F1, therefore naturally the number of Dutch fans is increasing. But if Max was to retire without a different Dutch driver taking his place (or a less successful one) then a number of his fans would retire following the sport as well. Which would lead to less people wanting to visit the Dutch Grand Prix.


Of course this is not the case for each country, some countries hosting races do not have their own drivers in the sport, but that is something a bit different, than when drivers do have their home race.


The management

The other reason are the organizers of the events and the leadership of F1 themselves. "I have the feeling that the organizers have no faith in themselves to host a Grand Prix anymore" says Stefano Domenicali, the CEO of Formula 1 group, about hosting a race in Germany.


However the response to this statement from the German tracks suggests a different issue. “The fact that the Hockenheimring has an interest in Formula 1 taking place here is not new. We also all know the hurdles that exist for this.” says the managing director of the Hockenheimring, Jon Terske.


“It’s a way for Formula 1 to weigh up how important the market is to them. It is clear that the whole thing cannot be put on the backs of the race tracks. We don’t have the strength for that and it’s not our job either.” he adds.


Alexander Gerhard, the spokesperson for the Nurburgring, had a similar response to Domenicali’s statement; “We would be delighted to welcome Formula 1 to the Nurburgring. It has to be economically viable”


It looks like Germany won’t be hosting a Formula 1 Grand Prix anytime soon. The management of Formula 1 is aiming at having 1/3 of the calendar in Europe, which iconic tracks like Monza, Silverstone and Monaco already have reserved. Of course the possibility is there however with the increasing demand of hosting Grand Prix’s all over the world and mainting the marketing and economical clauses of F1, it is harder. The Germans fans also might not be as passionate about F1 as they used to be, and are definitely not as enthusiastic as the Dutch fans at the moment.



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