F1 has taken a back seat in Germany, Toto Wolff has admitted.
Days ago, the Mercedes team boss said he would “try” to save the country’s endangered grand prix, as promoters and Bernie Ecclestone reach the eleventh hour in their negotiations over a commercial contract for 2015.
“The problems are all home-made,” Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda told Austria’s APA news agency.
F1’s controversial new rules have been blamed for a general decline in public interest, but Lauda said the all-important volume of the engines has been increased for 2015.
“It goes in the right direction,” he said. “What matters now is that the race promoters do it well.”
Wolff, however, has some sympathy for Germany’s struggling circuits.
“In Germany,” he explained, “there is a saturation; one could almost speak of a hangover.”
Wolff said German fans have been de-energised by overwhelming success in the past two decades, with Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel winning a combined eleven titles.
“Now there are other sports that inspire the masses,” Wolff told Der Standard newspaper.
He denied that the annual calendar spot for Germany is in danger due to Ecclestone’s recent legal troubles in the country.
“That plays no role,” Wolff insisted. “Ecclestone’s interests are exclusively commercial.
“He must generate the revenue — that’s his job.”
But at times, that job appears at odds with the very tradition of grand prix racing, as races in the sport’s European heart continue to decline.
“The historic tracks are important,” Wolff acknowledged, “but that the rights owner wants to maximise the revenue is understandable.” (GMM)