MAY 13, 2020
No hype means no German F1 drivers says Ralf Schumacher
Ralf Schumacher thinks a reduction in motor racing "hype" in the country could mean that not a single German driver is on the grid in 2020.
There is speculation Sebastian Vettel, who is definitely leaving Ferrari, may actually now retire. He is currently the only German driver in F1.
But ten years ago, a full one third of the grid was German, including Vettel, Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg, Adrian Sutil, Nick Heidfeld and Timo Glock.
"There were always phases in Formula 1 in which certain countries are very strong," former Williams and Toyota driver Schumacher told RTL.
"The Germans benefitted from a huge hype that for sure was triggered by my brother. There was huge interest in Germany, also in terms of marketing, TV and viewers. That has turned a bit. We don't feel that anymore," Ralf added.
Indeed, the German GP no longer features on the calendar, even though Hockenheim has been mentioned for a potential corona-era 'ghost race'.
Schumacher thinks the 'hype' in Britain is arguably now the strongest.
"Even if you can't necessarily tell from the number of drivers, the hype is very strong there due to Lewis Hamilton," he said. "I can imagine that there will be more going on from Britain.
"In Germany, the entire world of motorsport struggles," said Schumacher, amid reports that the German touring car championship DTM could collapse.
"I've been talking about us having a huge problem for eight years," he added. "It starts in karting - we have hardly any tracks left, so the kart drivers are getting fewer and fewer.
"If you don't have seedlings, you don't get any trees at the end of the day. And that's what is happening to us."
Germany's faint hope of having another F1 driver any time soon is Schumacher's own nephew, Mick Schumacher.
"Mick has proved that he can drive a car," Ralf said. "Otherwise he would not be Formula 3 champion.
"His first year in Formula 2 was quite passable, he had some good results and even a win. It's all good, but it's reassessed every year. He is now in his second year.
"He doesn't necessarily have to win, but should be in the top five or ideally the top 3. But we shouldn't put too much pressure on him either," he added.
"So far, the signs are good. He is also a Ferrari junior, so he has every opportunity."