Mar.23 (GMM) Niki Lauda has described the official demise of Mercedes’ home race this year as “sad”.
The F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman confirmed reports that the German carmaker made efforts to save the July 19 race, as circuit promoters and Bernie Ecclestone ultimately failed to agree.
“This is just sad,” Lauda told the German broadcaster RTL.
However, he refused to blame Ecclestone, even though Mercedes reportedly made an offer to promote the German grand prix this year and pay half the financial loss.
“Mercedes tried to help,” said Lauda, “but it was not accepted.
“But the conditions are the same everywhere in the world. If there is no promoter in Germany that can do what the other countries manage to do to run a grand prix, then this is how it is,” the plain-speaking Austrian added.
Less forgiving is fellow former F1 driver Christian Danner, who said Friday’s news from the Geneva meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council was “a slap in the face for all motor sport fans in Germany”.
“I find it very unfortunate that there was no institution that could have prevented this,” he added.
However, spectator numbers as well as television ratings have been sharply declining within Germany in the past years.
For the 2015 season opener in Melbourne, only 1.8 million Germans tuned in to RTL’s free-to-air coverage, compared with 3.1 million exactly a year ago.
The demise of the 2015 German grand prix could now hurt ratings even more.
“As the broadcasting network, we are obviously disappointed about this cancellation,” said RTL Sport’s Manfred Loppe.
“The German grand prix was a highlight of the racing calendar for us, so we hope strongly that this is just a one-off.”