Bernie Ecclestone says German GP not certain to take place in 2015
F1 chief tells Sky Sports News HQ Hockenheim doesn't yet have 2015 deal in place either; Ecclestone quips on German race "we’ve got one, it’s called Austria”
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 22/01/15 8:21am
Bernie Ecclestone has cast fresh doubt over this year’s German GP by suggesting the race may yet not go ahead at all.
Under the terms of the long-standing race share agreement between Germany’s two F1 venues, the Nurburging had been scheduled to return as the host of this year’s event after Hockeheim hosted the 2014 race. However, Ecclestone revealed last week that the race was set to stay at Hockenheim for this year as at the Nurburgring “there’s nobody there”.
But asked in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports News HQ’s Craig Slater if Hockenheim was now firmly on the calendar and had a deal in place for 2015, Ecclestone admitted: “Not really.”
Although the F1 supremo did reveal he was meeting with the new owners of the Nurburgring in London later on Wednesday – raising the prospect that their 2015 hopes may not yet be over after all – he conceded that there was a chance that the German race might not take place altogether this year.
He then joked: “But we’ve got one, it’s called Austria.”
The prospect of Germany not staging a race for the first time since 1960 would in some regards appear unthinkable given Mercedes’ status as world champions and the presence of three local drivers on the grid, including four-time champion Sebastian Vettel
Hockenheim and Nurburgring originally entered into their race share arrangement from 2007 in order to share the financial burden of an F1 contract, and while Ecclestone says he will do everything he can to ensure a German round remains on the calendar, the 84-year-old stresses it won't happen if neither venue can afford it.
“We would do everything to stop them fading away, but in the end the only reason the race won’t happen is because they can’t afford to run the race,” he added.
Although Hockenheim's future has appeared more secure in recent time, the circuit came under scrutiny last year when its race attracted meagre crowds – a stark contrast to the high attendances of Michael Schumacher’s heyday.
And despite the recent domination of first Vettel and now Mercedes, Ecclestone reckons German fans’ interest in the sport has waned since Schumacher’s second retirement.
“Honestly I don’t know [why the event is struggling], it surprises me. Maybe it’s a little bit that the German people were very used to and supported Michael and miss Michael when he wasn’t racing any longer," he added.
The Sky Sports F1 Online team will be providing live commentary of all three winter tests, starting in Jerez on February 1, with live updates from trackside also on Sky Sports News HQ.