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Circuits weigh up cost of F1 as Nurburgring says deal must be 'affordable' and Silverstone looks to drop ticket prices

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Circuits weigh up cost of F1 as Nurburgring says deal must be 'affordable' and Silverstone looks to drop ticket prices
Jan 14, 2015, 6:58 PM

Following Monday's contrasting views on the number of races held in particular regions from circuit bosses in Bahrain and the USA, with Bahrain I...

Following Monday's contrasting views on the number of races held in particular regions from circuit bosses in Bahrain and the USA, with Bahrain International Circuit, Sheikh Salman, saying a third Middle Eastern race would be "counterproductive" and US GP promoter Bobby Epstein calling for three races in the United States, two circuits from F1's European heartland have raised questions about the finances involved in staging grands prix.

When the 2015 F1 calendar was first announced the German Grand Prix was included without a venue specified. The 2014 edition of the grand prix took place at the Hockenheimring, itself no stranger to financial troubles, and under the event-sharing agreement begun in 2007 this season's race is due to hosted by the Nurburgring.

The most recent F1 calendar, however, still features the location of the German Grand Prix as 'To Be Announced' and if the current boss of the troubled Nurburgring is to be believed that situation could continue.

Carsten Schumacher, CEO of the circuit, today confirmed that no deal to host the race has yet been done and that any proposed deal "will have to remain affordable".

"Formula One is welcome at the Nürburgring,” he said. “It provides worldwide television pictures, a positive image and would bring high sales to the region.

“However, the Formula One has to remain affordable. We don't comment ongoing conversations. We will communicate this, if there is a concrete result."

In the meantime, the future of the German Grand Prix remains cloudy.

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Last year's race at Hockenheim attracted a poor crowd of approximately 50,000 on race day, underlining the difficulties F1 has traditionally had in the post-Schumacher era, despite the presence of drivers such as Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg and Nico Hulkenberg.

Silverstone, by contrast, hosted F1 in front of a packed house last year, with a reported 88,000 fans though the gates on Friday, 105,000 fans attending qualifying and 122,000 spectators turning up on race day.

Growing those kinds of numbers is high on new Silverstone managing director Patrick Allen's wish list and the circuit boss is keen to see ticket prices fall.

"What I would like to do is see ticket prices falling for the British Grand Prix," he told the BBC referencing the current prices, which see a general admission adult race day ticket costing £155. "In my mind I have the benchmark of a £99 admission ticket. I think that's what customers deserve. I would much rather see better ticket offers and once people are here, do more for them.

"If you want to get more people here every year, you don't do that by putting the ticket prices up. We are desperately trying to bring the ticket price down."

Allen is hopeful that slashing the price of tickets will not hurt profits, with greater attendance making up any shortfall. However, it remains to be seen how many more spectators the circuit could cope with. There is also the issue of a rights fee that is believed to escalate annually over the course of the circuit's deal. Allen though insisted that the circuit's capacity can cover this.

"We have headroom in capacity, so the volume aspect will cover the inflationary aspect of the grand prix escalator," he said. "We have other parts of the business, when the grand prix isn't on, we can make money out of.

"I'm looking at the business as a whole, and not just one event per year, and it's the whole that helps deliver customer value," he concluded. "That is what we need to think about, not a discrete event."

 

 

 
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