Empty Seats Overshadow German Grand Prix

Nurburgring officials "are confident about the track's F1 future despite the alarmingly low attendance number at Sunday's German Grand Prix in Hockenheim," according to the SID. Capricorn Nurburgring Managing Dir Carsten Schumacher said, "Last year, we were satisfied with a total of 110,500 spectators at the Nürburgring over the F1 weekend. I'm confident that the Nürburgring will keep its attractiveness. Therefore I wouldn't talk of a 'German' problem." Schumacher called the small crowd in Hockenheim — the official number for Sunday was 52,000 — "unfortunate." However, he did not want to evaluate if Hockenheim's low attendance "would increase his track's negotiating position." Schumacher: "Please understand that we do not interfere in the affairs between [F1 CEO Bernie] Ecclestone and the Hockenheimring." SID

REUTERS' Alan Baldwin asked, "Where have all the German Formula One fans gone?" The "glamour sport was asking itself that question after tens of thousands stayed away from a home grand prix that should have been box office gold in the land of Mercedes but instead left plenty of empty seats on Sunday." Some "pointed the finger at the country's reigning quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel, struggling for form at a below-par Red Bull this season and unhappy with the new rules and engine format." Others "blamed World Cup fatigue, Germany's strict tax rules on corporate hospitality or the absence of Michael Schumacher." Whatever the reason, "the facts on Sunday were stark."

Instead of "queues of cars on the autobahns and crowds thronging through the turnstiles, the race at Hockenheim drew an attendance of just 52,000 on Sunday." In total, 95,000 "turned up over the three days — a small crowd in one of the world's largest car exporting nations and home of sporting marques like Porsche, BMW and Audi." The Sunday figure represented a 38% "drop on the previous race at the circuit two years ago."

High ticket prices, with a category one weekend pass costing €515 ($700), "were also seen as a factor — particularly with Austria offering a cheaper alternative as well as novelty value in the same German-speaking catchment area" REUTERS

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