Despite Nico Rosberg being the favorite to win the world title this weekend and Mercedes' dominance, the German Grand Prix is set to be dropped from next year's Formula One calendar due to financial reasons.
Even with 425 million television viewers every year, television deals are not the main source of income for Formula One as hosting fees paid by each race's organizer are estimated to go as high as $70 million. Circuits in Bahrain, Shanghai and Abu Dhabi have the government's backing to cover the hefty fees - but for Hockenheim this will not be the case.
"It's unfortunate but not surprising, especially as the date was only conditional," said Hockenheimring boss Georg Seiler who has a contract to host in 2018. "There was also no offer excluding all financial risks, which was always our condition as a possible venue."
Next July would have been the turn of the Nürburgring under an alternation agreement but that circuit's owners are unable to pay the hosting fees, with the race also absent from the calendar last season.
"We tried to keep them (Hockenheim) alive, but they've run out of tablets," Formula One's chief executive Bernie Ecclestone had told motorsport.com at the this month's Brazilian Grand Prix. "I'll put my money on it not happening."
Germany was listed on a provisional 21-race 2017 schedule with an asterisk, along with Canada and Brazil. Those races are now expected to stay, with tickets going on sale in Canada on Thursday. The official calendar is due to be approved by the governing FIA at the end of November.
Important German presence
Championship leader Rosberg, who was born in Wiesbaden, will become Germany's third world champion after Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel if the Mercedes driver finishes on the podium in this weekend's Abu Dhabi season-ender.
Rosberg is 12 points clear of British team mate Lewis Hamilton, who won at Hockenheim this year. Mercedes have already won the constructors' title for the third year in a row.
Germany currently has four Formula One drivers - more than any other country - with Vettel at Ferrari, Nico Hulkenberg racing for Force India and Pascal Wehrlein with Manor. The country held two races a year during seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher's heyday, with the Nürburgring run as the European Grand Prix.
But attendances have dwindled and only 57,000 fans attended this year on race Sunday, below the levels required for the circuit to break even.
hf (AP, Reuters)