Lauda: German GP failure down to promoters not matching Melbourne and Silverstone standards
Mercedes F1 team chairman Niki Lauda says that the failure to stage a German Grand Prix this season is more down to the failure of the promoters i...
Mercedes F1 team chairman Niki Lauda says that the failure to stage a German Grand Prix this season is more down to the failure of the promoters in the country to put on a popular event, unlike Silverstone, Melbourne and other successful events such as the Red Bull-hosted event in Austria.
It is painful for Mercedes not to have a home Grand Prix and yesterday it seems the death knell for this year's German GP was sounded by the man who runs Hockenheim circuit, Georg Seiler. Hockenheim was under no obligation to step in and host in 2015, but examined the feasibility of the exercise.
The uncertainty over the hosting of the event has meant that ticket sales have not started yet for the race, which was scheduled for July 19. With only four months to the event, the financial risk was too great.
"We have no hope any more of having a Formula One race here (this year)," Seiler said. "We did everything in the last few years to keep the fans happy."
Nurburgring was due to host the race this year, with Hockenheim scheduled to host it in 2016. But when Nurburgring fell into financial difficulties, Bernie Ecclestone approached Hockenheim to step in for 2015.
"We had declared ourselves willing to step in for Nuerburgring, something we were contractually not obliged to do," added Seiler "There were talks with third parties over taking over the risk but they were not successful."
These "third parties" are believed to have included Mercedes Benz, which has the most to lose from not having a coronation parade for its all conquering Silver Arrows on home soil. But Mercedes was clearly reluctant to financially support the race and take the risk, especially as ticket sales last year were so poor for the German Grand Prix. Interest in the sport in Germany has plummeted in recent years, despite Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg's success and that of Mercedes. TV audiences in Germany showed the largest decline of any developed market in 2014 and the stands at Hockenheim were sparsely populated.
For Lauda the situation is very clear and it is the failure of the German race promoters to put on an entertaining package for the fans across the whole race weekend,
"It is not really Bernie's fault or our (Mercedes') fault," Lauda told BBC 5 Live. "Nurburgring was the contract for this year and they went bankrupt. So Bernie tried to motivate Hockenheim to do the race, but they aren't happy because they are (scheduled) to do only very second year the race.
"There are races like Melbourne, like Austria, like Silverstone where people turn up and are entertained for the whole weekend. So it's really the organisers' fault, especially in Germany; they are not attractive enough, for the money they (the fans) have to pay to watch a race.
"It's not only a two hour race; it starts on Friday and ends on Sunday, like in Melbourne. They are the best example.
"If they (German organisers) would do the same job, they would have nothing to worry about."
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