Editor’s Note: If you’ve been following F1B for any length of time, then you certainly know that our very own Mark Hallam is a professional journalist at Deutsche Welle. He is a fabulous British lad who speaks fluent German and is a real source of pride for all of us at F1B. To those ends, I couldn’t let this story go unrecognized by F1B so enjoy Mark’s work at DW:
The Nurburgring is in a sorry state of financial difficulty having filed for insolvency last week. The future looks grim but the reasons for the grim future are even more grim. As DW’s Mark Hallam set out to unpack, the woes of the Green Hell really started to equal its name five years ago. An investment group moved in and decided to infuse cash to upgrade the circuit…except that isn’t what most of the money was spent on.
It seems that a leisure section was the focus on the cash as Hallam explains:
“The total debt racked up building the leisure complex is not known. But even after receiving half a billion euros from the state, Nürburgring GmbH has 330 million euros of outstanding debts.”
What is the leisure center?
“Almost all the major renovations were in the leisure complex instead of the tracks. The additions included a little used hotel, casino and promenade. A rollercoaster was shut down on safety grounds almost immediately after it opened.”
Apparently Michael Schumacher is one of the few who rode the roller coaster before it was shut down but it seems the German state also was taken on a roller coaster ride of epic proportions. Mismanagement doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of what ails the circuit. The heart of the issue may reside in a dynamic duo who orchestrated the project as Mark explains:
Two businessmen, Kai Richter and Georg Lindner, combined with then-Nürburgring CEO Walter Kafitz to convince the state government that the project was viable. The pair pledged to contribute to Nürburgring GmbH, and said others would flock to the project once the foundations were laid.
No new investors emerged. Midway through the construction process, Richter and Lindner themselves withdrew, saying they were out of money.
Left with a half-built project, Beck’s government decided to buy out Richter and Lindner – taking over all the liabilities – and finish the construction themselves.
Once the state built it, though, Beck’s government went back to the departed duo and asked them to run the entire complex as leaseholders. Richter and Lindner formed another company called Nürburgring Automotive GmbH (NAG) and took up the job.
A few months after the EU’s 2011 ruling that Rhineland-Palatinate could no longer support the leaseholders with state funds, NAG stopped paying the rent.
Their contract was formally absolved in February, but the leaseholders still claim they run the circuit.
Richter and Lindner have even issued a statement on the homepage of the circuit they have lost any rights to. They claimed to have a grand plan to save the ring, that they are in contact with Formula One to make racing next year possible, and that employees’ futures are secure.
Make the jump here and read the full report on why the Nurburgring are in dire straights and let us know what you think can be done to save the circuit. If you’ve been tot he circuit, what was your impression of the surroundings and do you feel the state should step in to save the Ring? If so, Richter and Kinder be a part of the operation?