March 17, 2015 / 3:43 PM / 4 years ago

Hockenheim boss rules out German GP this year

BERLIN (Reuters) - There will be no German Grand Prix this year, Hockenheim circuit boss Georg Seiler said on Tuesday in a decision that ended months of uncertainty over the country’s Formula One race.

The absence of Germany, home of reigning world champions Mercedes, for the first time since 1960 leaves the calendar with 19 races.

“We have no hope any more of having a Formula One race here (this year),” Seiler told Bild newspaper. “We did everything in the last few years to keep the fans happy.”

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone had kept the door ajar but Seiler said time had run out because “quality would now suffer” if they went ahead with the 10th round of the championship.

“We had declared ourselves willing to step in for Nuerburgring, something we were contractually not obliged to do,” he said.

“There were talks with third parties over taking over the risk but they were not successful.”

Ecclestone told Reuters on Monday that Hockenheim was the only option for the July 19 race despite it being the Nuerburgring’s turn under an alternation agreement.

Hockenheim hosted 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.

German drivers have been among the most successful in Formula One, with Michael Schumacher winning a record seven world titles and 91 races while Sebastian Vettel is a four times champion.

However attendances dwindled after Schumacher, who won five of his titles for Ferrari, retired in 2012 after an unsuccessful comeback with Mercedes.

Only 52,000 fans turned up on race day at Hockenheim last year to see Germany’s Nico Rosberg win the race for Mercedes. The victory was the first by a German driver in a German car on home soil since the 1930s.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Alan Baldwin

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