FEBRUARY 13, 2006
Hockenheim-Ring on its last legs?
There are reports in the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper in Germany that the local racing track, the Hockenheim-Ring, is in such financial trouble that unless new money can be found immediately the track will be forced to cancel the German Grand Prix. Hockenheim mayor Dieter Gummer has denied that this is the case, saying that a solution can be found in the time available. He, no doubt, is hoping for the regional government to come to the aid of the company which has heavy debts due to its rebuilding some years ago and because German fans have had less interest in F1 in recent years because either Michael Schumacher has won too much (2002-2004) or won too little (2005). Ralf Schumacher, Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg, Mercedes-Benz and BMW are not apparently exciting enough to bring in the people.
The other point which must be made is that each year the cost of hosting F1 races is going up by 10% and that is hurting a lot of the circuits around the world, although others are currently being polite and not making a fuss. Formula One knows that it can go on finding suitable countries to pay for the sport in out of the way places around the world but the real victims of this are the old long-established tracks in Europe where the additional money is much more difficult to find. There are clauses in contracts (it is believed that several races have protected status in the commercial agreement between the Formula One group and the FIA) but the FIA has yet to show any signs in public that it is going to do anything about Formula One's lust for more money.
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