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FIA drops German Grand Prix from Formula One calendar

For the first time in more than half a century, the F1 motor racing season will not include the German Grand Prix. This came after the commercial rights holder and local promoters failed to reach agreement on a fee.

Motorsport's governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) officially unveiled its schedule of 19 Grand Prix races for the 2015 season on Friday. Notable by its absence was the German Grand Prix, which had been planned for July 19 at the

Nürburgring in the west of the country.

"The German Grand Prix has been withdrawn as the CRH (commercial rights holder) and promoter did not reach agreement," said a statement posted beneath the schedule.

The statement merely confirmed what had been expected for weeks, after the commercial rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone, told the DPA news agency earlier this month that the

local promoters "are not prepared to pay the fee"

he was demanding.

In a previous interview with the regional "Rhein Zeitung" newspaper, Ecclestone had noted that "the visitor numbers were so poor in recent years that it is not economically viable."

A spokesperson for the Nürburgring indicated earlier this week that they had failed to reach an agreement with Ecclestone on the fee for holding the race, which is reported to be as much as 20 million euros ($21 million).

On Thursday it became clear that there would be no German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring in 2015, after a spokesman for the facility announced that holding the race was not viable "for time, financial and organizational reasons."

Mercedes offer 'not accepted'

Still, F1 fans clung to the hope that there would be a German Grand Prix after automaker and F1 team Mercedes offered to make a "significant" financial contribution to ensure that the race went ahead at the alternative home to the race, the Hockenheimring in the south of the country. However a spokesman announced on Friday that the offer was "unfortunately not accepted."

This is the first time since 1960 that Germany, home to four-time drivers' champion Sebastian Vettel, and seven-time champion, Michael Schumacher, will not host a Formula One race.

Schumacher's retirement, as well as the high price of tickets to cover the hosting fees, are seen as contributing factors to a drop in attendance in Germany in recent years. Only 52,000 fans turned out to Hockenheim on race day last year, leaving organizers with a significant financial loss.

pfd/sb (dpa, SID, Reuters, AP)

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