Don't write off Nuerburgring for 2013: owner

Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:50am EST
 

By Alexander Hübner

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The owner of Germany's Nuerburgring motor racing track has said the popular Formula One venue could still host the German Grand Prix next year despite uncertainty linked to the track's insolvency.

The current operator NAG, which has leased the facilities from the owner, is in talks with F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone to secure the race and keep him from awarding the July event to Hockenheim - which alternates each year with its rival.

"If the issue over whether there will be a Formula One race at Nuerburgring in 2013 is sorted out by year-end, that would still be early enough," Thomas Schmidt, the managing director of track owner Nuerburgring GmbH, told Reuters.

Nuerburgring GmbH - 90 percent owned by the German regional state where the track is based - ran into financial trouble amid a dispute with operator NAG over leasing fees.

The German state of Rhineland-Palatinate has sought to restructure the company with the help of a bridge financing package but EU competition regulators in August stepped up their investigation into state aid.

The state is under pressure to make the track pay after pouring millions of euros into a racing-themed amusement park there.

Nuerburgring, located in a rural area about 120 km northwest of Frankfurt, is adjacent to the famous Nordschleife circuit.

That track, dubbed "the Green Hell", holds allure for F1 drivers and viewers alike and it was the scene of the 1976 fiery crash of then reigning world champion Niki Lauda, which almost killed the Austrian.   Continued...