Tuesday, March 24, 2015

German Grand Prix Removed from 2015 Formula 1 Schedule

Photo Credit: Andrew Hone Photographer via Pirelli

The opening race of the 2015 Formula 1 season consisted of a scene where a sizable number of drivers and team didn't even make the official start. A potential 20-car field at the beginning of the Australian Grand Prix race weekend shrank to 15 competitors even before the lights lit on the starting grid. On Friday of last week, the depleting starting field in the opening event may have proven symbolic for what else the 66th Formula 1 season had in store.

One of the most historically significant stops on the Formula 1 tour, the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring is a race with history dating back to 1927. Since 2008, the Nurburgring complex had been sharing the annual Formula 1 event with the Hockenheimring with alternating hosting duties. With this year being the Nurburgring's year for holding the German Grand Prix, Formula 1 announced the race will not happen. While the news has caused a massive disruption to the 2015 season, the announcement was not a complete surprise.

On Formula 1's official website, the announcement for the cancellation of the German Grand Prix was brief consisting of only three sentences and a revised 18-race schedule for 2015. Among the short description, there was no reason given for dropping the Formula 1 in Germany. Lacking this concrete information, it is still easy to arise to the reason why the race was dropped from the 2015 Formula 1 schedule. Simply put, it's about money.

All Formula 1 races are expected to pay a licensing fee for holding a grand prix. A fee that differs depending on the location and race, the cost for the German Grand Prix has been considerable. The expense of the grand prix and dropping event attendance has financially challenged the organizers of both the Nurburgring and Hockenhiemring. With the Nurburgring new ownership, the current Formula 1 agreement for hosting the German Grand Prix was deemed not financially viable for the track. Operators of the Nurburgring attempted to renegotiate the agreement to no avail. Following the cancellation of the grand prix in Germany, Formula 1's leader Bernie Ecclestone has been blasted for putting his greed in front of the sport.

During the weekend, reports emerged that Mercedes-Benz offered to save the German Grand Prix. Obviously wanting their Mercedes AMG Formula 1 team to be the source of national pride once again in 2015, the German automaker offered to cover half the race's losses and provide added marketing to an event held at the Hockenhiemring. Despite the best efforts by Mercedes-Benz, the alternative plan for the German Grand Prix did not materialize.

There have been only four times since the inception of Formula 1 in 1950 that a German Grand Prix was not held. Two of those occasions, 1950 and 1960, the grand prix was not part of the Formula 1 schedule. In 1955, the race in Germany was cancelled in reaction to the tragic Le Mans crash that resulted the deaths of 83 spectators and driver Pierre Levegh. In 2007, the more recent absence of the German Grand Prix prior to this year, the Formula 1 series ran at the Nurburgring under the European Grand Prix banner.

With the July 17th to 19th race weekend now deleted from the 2015 schedule, there will be a three-week gap between the British Grand Prix and the Hungarian Grand Prix.

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