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Rediff.com  » Sports » Germans mull axing one Grand Prix

Germans mull axing one Grand Prix

December 29, 2005 19:40 IST

The operators of Germany's two Formula One racing circuits are considering hosting a single German Grand Prix in alternate years to secure their financial futures.

Germany hosts both the German Grand Prix, at Hockenheim, and the European Grand Prix, at the Nuerburgring, but neither circuit is making the money it used to. The Hockenheimring is struggling under heavy debts.

Walter Kafitz, general manager of the Nuerburgring told the General Anzeiger newspaper on Wednesday, that his circuit was no longer packing in the 350,000 fans that came in 2002.

"Perhaps it makes sense to hold Formula One racing in Germany alternately at the Nuerburgring and the Hockenhemring," Kafitz said.

"That is an idea of ours. It has been welcomed by (Formula One chief) Bernie Ecclestone," he said.

Georg Seiler, managing director of the Hockenheimring, told the Mannheim Morgen paper on Thursday that halting Germany's hosting of the European Grand Prix had been under consideration for some time.

He added that cooperation with the Nuerburgring was a possibility.

"We are looking in all directions, but will not act over-hastily," Seiler told the newspaper. "We have a contract until 2008."

Hockenheim, the home track of seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher, is saddled with an estimated operating loss of around 1.5 million euros ($1.79 million) for 2006.

An international accounting firm has estimated in an unpublished report that the circuit could face insolvency as early as April 2006 if its debt problems are not resolved, German media have reported.

Hockenheim town mayor Dieter Gummer has said that in order to ease the financial difficulties of the Formula One track in southwest Germany he was planning to restructure its debt.

Only Germany and Italy, with the Italian and San Marino Grands Prix, host two races per year.

Formula One chief Ecclestone has been keen to secure new markets, with the first race in Turkey this year and in China and Bahrain in 2004.
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