Formula One CEO Chase Carey says he is prepared to fight for the future of the German Grand Prix after the success of this year’s race at Hockenheim.
Last month’s race was the last on the current contract, leaving the future of Formula One racing in Germany uncertain. However, after previous years of dwindling attendances, Hockenheim enjoyed a near sell-out crowd this year with over 70,000 fans packing out the large grandstands around the track.
In previous interviews, Carey has pledged to keep races in F1’s European homeland but it seems not at the cost of the sport’s bottom line. The Belgian Grand Prix recently renewed its contract thanks to funding from the local government but the British Grand Prix at Silverstone remains under threat after it exercised a post-2019 break clause in its contract.
Hockenheim has been similarly bullish in its negotiations with F1, insisting it is unable to pay the sport’s asking price on its own, but Carey says he is determined to find a solution that sees the German Grand Prix remain on the calendar.
“We’re fighting for it,” he told Sport Bild. “Hockenheim is an important track, Germany is an automotive nation with a big fan base and it’s an important country for us.
“The scene in the stadium section this year was impressive. And yes, obviously we want Formula One to continue to keep growing with you [Germany]. But we need partners that would engage with and support a race. We are working on that. “
F1’s 21-race calendar is under threat of shrinking to 20 next year if a new deal cannot be reached with Germany. Race promoter fees make up a significant proportion of F1’s revenues and a decrease in the size of the calendar will also be felt in the sport’s revenue.
A race on the streets of Miami was planned to keep F1’s calendar 21-races strong next year, but problems in the planning phase means it has been postponed to 2020 at the earliest. Yet despite F1’s calendar issues — unlike previous years no draft has been circulated as yet — Carey believes the sport is in good health on the back of a tight title battle between Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
“The two biggest stars are racing head to head for the world championship,” he said. “The advantage that we have in Formula One is that, while other sports like football have top teams playing against each other, we have that as well as having these duels of man against man. When two different characters collide this is electrifying.
“The duel between Vettel and Hamilton is so epic; it’s like john McEnroe v Jimmy Connors. Both are big champions and they fight with everything they have against each other — especially for their fifth title. And Hamilton with his big emotional gestures does us a big favour because he polarises opinion with that.”