Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed today that the 2015 German Grand Prix will be held at the Hockenheim circuit instead of the Nurburgring. Since 2007, the German Grand Prix has been held at both venues in alternating years, but for the first time since 2006, the event will take place at the same venue for two years in a row after financial issues have prevented the Nurburgring from hosting the Grand Prix.
“It’s going to be at Hockenheim, we’re in the middle of doing something with them,” Ecclestone told Reuters, “It can’t be Nurburgring because there’s nobody there. We’ve got a contract in place [with Hockenheim], we just have to amend the years of the contract. It was alternating with Nurburgring so we’ll just take that out.”
Hockenheim held it’s first Grand Prix back in 1970 after drivers decide to boycott the event at the Nordschleife unless changes were made for safety reasons. The event went back to the Nurburgring until 1977 when it returned to Hockenheim following Niki Lauda’s near fatal crash in 1976. Hockenheim stayed on the calendar for every year except 1985 when the event was held at a new version of the Nurburging. From 1995 until 2006, both Hockenheim and the Nurburgring were on the F1 calendar, with the Nurburgring event usually under the name of the European or Luxembourg Grand Prix. From 2007 until last year, the circuits alternated hosting rights.
The Nurburgring has been suffering with financial issues for the last few years. The trouble began in 2007 when the circuit was turned into a large tourist attraction with the addition of an indoor go-karting school, a hotel, restaurants and the famous roller-coaster that ran parallel with the start/finish straight; which was only used once by Michael Schumacher at it’s opening before being ruled unsafe for public use due to technical issues. The facilities after their opening were rarely used due to the fact that the circuit is located in a largely barren area of Germany that people only journey to for either the race events or to drive the Nordschleife.
The problems reached their peak in 2012. The state-owned company that ran the circuit was declared bankrupt, with debts of €350m. The German government awarded it a series of bail-outs totalling €524m, but the European Union launched an investigation into whether the German government broke EU competition rules by awarding these rescue packages Along with that, six people involved in the track’s management, including the region’s former finance minister, went on trial for fraud.
Nurburgring CEO, Carsten Schumacher, hopes that a deal can be arranged to secure the Nurburgring a future on the Formula One calendar, “The Formula One is welcome at the Nürburgring,” Schumacher 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”.
The 2015 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim will be held from the 17th to the 19th of July and it will be the 10th round out of 20.