German Grand Prix still uncertain after season start

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 16, 2015 8:41 AM

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone is keeping the door ajar for German Grand Prix organizers even if this year's race looks doomed.

"I don't know at the moment," the Briton told Reuters on Monday when asked about the fate of what should be the 10th round on a 20-race championship that started in Australia on Sunday.

"There is no contract with Hockenheim. And they haven't had an agreement. Originally they were going to support it with somebody to help them with the finance. It didn't happen.

"We will have to wait for another few days to see what's happening."

The 84-year-old had been quoted previously as saying a decision would be made a week before the opening race in Melbourne.

Ecclestone confirmed that Hockenheim was the only option for the July 19 race despite it being the Nuerburgring's turn to host it under an alternation agreement.

The Briton has said Germany, which has been on the calendar every year since 1960, cannot be replaced by another race if canceled.

Hockenheim put on last year's grand prix and is also due to host it in 2016 but the circuit has made heavy losses due to poor attendances and is unwilling to shoulder the burden for three years in a row.

The Nuerburgring, one of the sport's most historic venues with the original track dating from the pre-World War Two years, also has financial troubles and has changed ownership since it last appeared on the calendar.

The prospect of Germany -- the home of champions Mercedes and four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel, who is now in his first season with Ferrari -- being off the calendar has dismayed many in the sport.

"It is bad for Germany, bad for Mercedes, bad for everybody if the organizers cannot get it going." Mercedes GP non-executive chairman Niki Lauda told Reuters last month.

"It is not our area to intervene in the talks between promoter and rights holder," said Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff before the season started.

"As far as we are able to, we will try to help. It is an important Grand Prix for us."

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)