German GP at Hockenheim…James May will be happy

It seems rather pedestrian these days to find quibble in the press over contract negotiations in Formula One. Such is the talk today about the German Grand Prix. According to Reuters, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has offered his patented first shot in the press saying:

“It’s going to be at Hockenheim, we’re in the middle of doing something with them. It can’t be Nuerburgring because there’s nobody there,”

The typical rules of the game are to place pressure on a circuit and its owners by suggesting you are dropping them from the calendar and choosing someone else. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Regardless, James May—one of the Top Gear triumvirate—loathes the Nurburgring so this must come as good news for him.

When you explore just what a “deal” with Hockenheim is, you discover it isn’t signed yet:

“We’ve got a contract in place (with Hockenheim), we just have to amend the years of the contract. It was alternating with Nuerburgring so we’ll just take that out,” said Ecclestone.

“Providing the contract goes through as we expect it to, we’ll be in good shape.”

In essence you have the existing contract that alternated the German GP between Nurburgring and Hockenheim. Just crossing out the dates and making the latter a yearly event is no small task and usually means big money in order to make that happen.

As for Nurburgring, they are open for business according the story:

“Formula One is welcome at the Nuerburgring,” CEO Carsten Schumacher said. “It provides worldwide television pictures, a positive image and would bring high sales to the region. However, Formula One has to remain affordable.”

The circuit was in financial difficulty and later sold to Russian investor Viktor Kharitonin and GetSpeed GmbH. Ecclestone tried to buy the track but was out bid by the group of investors. The history of the tracks financial decline can be found in this article we referenced at the time.

Hockenheim hasn’t been the same since they left the gates open one night and Herman Tilke got in with a bulldozer and neutered the track. Gone are the long runs through the forest speeding past the Jim Clark memorial where he tragically died back in 1968.

It may not be the same but then neither is the Nurburgring. It was also emasculated in 1984 and became a shadow of its former self but then didn’t everyone back in 1984? When pressed, former F1 driver Mark Webber said he preferred the Ring over Hockenheim and who can argue with Mark?

Hat Tip: Reuters

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