Germany follows France into F1 pits

Fri Mar 20, 2015 5:00pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - The absence of Germany from this year's Formula One calendar, confirmed on Friday, would have been utterly unthinkable a decade ago.

When Michael Schumacher was king of the ring, adored by an army of red-shirted Ferrari fans as seven-times world champion, Europe's biggest economy happily hosted two races a year at Hockenheim and the Nuerburgring.

Even that was not enough for some, with Germans flocking to Hungary and Belgium and further afield to pitch their tents and watch the 'weltmeister' at work.

Even now, with Mercedes on top of the world and four-times champion Sebastian Vettel driving for Ferrari and following in Schumacher's footsteps, there would appear to be all the ingredients to excite the home crowd.

Instead, for the first time since 1960, Germany has no race and alarm bells are ringing across the sport's heartland.

As the news spread on social media, many fans felt the sport -- which started the season in Australia last weekend with just 15 cars on the grid and some of the 10 teams struggling to survive -- was plunging deeper into a crisis of its own making.

Others feared it was turning its back on its roots, even if Germany does return next year.

France, the cradle of motor racing that gave the sport so much of its vocabulary -- from chassis to grand prix -- as well as the champagne celebrations, was dropped from the calendar in 2008 and has failed to find a way back.   Continued...

Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany celebrates winning the German F1 Grand Prix at the Hockenheim racing circuit July 20, 2014.                 REUTERS/Michael Dalder