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Trying to finalise the 2013 Formula One Calendar, - February 2, 2013 by admin
Massa testing at Portimao, photo by Víctor J. Tornet

Massa testing at the Algarve International Circuit at Portimao, photo by Víctor J. Tornet

It seems the German Grand Prix will in fact not be at the Nurburgring in 2013 and the vacant European race might be filled by Portugal, though a French Grand Prix is still a possibility.

 

First to the vacant European race, A French race has long seemed most likely but a Turkish race at Istanbul Park or Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring have also been suggested, now a Portuguese Grand Prix (which would be the first since 1996) is being suggested as a possibility by Bernie Ecclestone.

 

Portugal’s Algarve region have a shiny, nearly, new circuit at Portimao. The Algarve International Circuit was homologated by the FIA in 2008 and was used for testing in in 2010. The circuit has also hosted events such as A1 GP in 2008 and Superbikes so has facilities for fans. In fact in 2009 then FIA President Max Mosley said he could see no reason why the Circuit couldn’t host F1 if an agreement was made with Formula One Management. Now Bernie has said the Portuguese are showing interest in hosting a race to fill this one off vacant European GP slot, created by the delay to the Port Imperial circuit in New Jersey.

 

It seems Austria isn’t an option as a replacement though, even though some had suggested Red Bull might finance the race at their Red Bull Ring circuit, formerly the A1 ring and the Osterreichring Bernie Ecclestone has suggested it is unlikely. He doesn’t think it could replace the German Grand Prix either it seems, based on an interview given by Mr Ecclestone last week in Austria.

 

Since then though Mr Ecclestone has confirmed that negotiations with the Nurburgring for this year’s German Grand Prix have ceased.

The Nurburgring, few F1 fans want to see the circuit lost to the sport, Photo by marc-john

The Nurburgring, few F1 fans want to see the circuit lost to the sport, Photo by marc-john

The circuit is in serious financial trouble and may soon need to seek Bankruptcy protection, this opens the potential for it to be sold but the circuit may be off the calender for at least a few years.

Those running the Hockenheimring have said they are willing and ready to host the race this year if they need to. Long term though they may find that hosting the German Grand Prix every year is unviable financially; both the Nurburgring and Hockenheim did seem to find their arrangement to host the race in alternate years as a good solution.

You might have thought then that a new deal where Hockenheim and the Red Bull Ring alternate might have been ideal but it seems not. With increasing pressure on European circuits though and Bernie Ecclestone looking to cut Grand Prix it could be that a circuit such as the Hungaroring might see alternating with Hockenheim as the only way to keep a Grand Prix long term.

With the start of the 2013 season only just over a month away though it seems that the season could well start with an unfinalised calender.

Nurburgring holding company insolvent - July 19, 2012 by admin
The Mereceds Benz stand at the Nurburgring

The Mereceds Benz stand at the Nurburgring, photo by Marc John

July 30th the Nurburgring will find out if the EU will give them bail out funds to allow them to keep trading but that could be too late and the circuit’s holding company have begun insolvency proceedings. Currently the holding company Nurburgring GmbH are in dispute with Nurburgring Automotive GmbH who lease the circuit, over fees that the holding company believe are due to them; Nurburgring GmbH wanted to end the deal that lasts until 2040 as a result of non-payment but insolvency may take this out of their hands.

 

The state government of Rhineland Palatinate own 90% of Nurburgring GmbH but are helpless to intervene due to competition laws however insolvency for Nurburgring GmbH wouldn’t mean an end to the track. Administrators would look to sell it as an asset or find a buyer for the business as a going concern: certainly as a going concern the Nurburgring would be more appealing as the company going out of business would most likely lead to the contract to host the German Grand Prix in alternate years being cancelled.

 

The Hockenheimring which shares the German Grand Prix with the Nurburgring and hosts the race in 2012 has said it would be willing to host the race every year with owner Georg Seiler stating that “we’re ready to adapt to any demands” he does however seem to prefer for a solution to be found for the Nurburgring to continue hosting the race and it seems a solution is already on the table.

 

The deal currently being suggested is for Bernie Ecclestone to take over as promoter for the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring every other year and would presumably not be dependent on who owned the track. It would also become Bernie Ecclestone’s responsible;ity to pay the race fees and so he would look to cover them with strong ticket sales.

 

Few Formula One fans or motorsport fans in general will want to see the Nurburgring go the same way as the A1-Ring in Austria that suffered years of neglect when Formula One stopped visiting the track and owners failed to complete new construction work leaving it unusable until Dietrich Maateschitz took it over finished work and renamed it the Red-Bull ring. The Nurburgring though is a motorsports mecca with motorists from around Europe paying to drive the old Nordschleife  circuit every day so should have the potential to turn a profit and German Grand Prix ticket sales remain high with 56,000 already sold for the 2012 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim this weekend.

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