F1: The German Grand Prix might’ve died with the old Hockenheim

HOC

Formula One teams have a bit of extra time next week to prepare for the Hungarian Grand Prix as they won’t be making their traditional June trip to Hockenheim. The German Grand Prix was cancelled this year because the Hockenheim circuit couldn’t sustain the financial losses that came with hosting the event. As highlighted earlier on Motorsport Snippets, F1 ticket sales in Germany had become disappointingly low in recent years.

There are lots of reasons why German fans might’ve lost interest in F1 over recent years. Increasing ticket prices are likely to be a big factor, and so is the end of the Schumacher era. Another interesting theory suggests that part of Hockenheim’s decline started in 2002 when the venue was completely remodelled. The long 6.8km circuit was effectively cut in half and a new modern facility was built in its place. One of the motivations behind this upgrade was to improve the spectator experience. The idea was that a shorter circuit, where fans got to see more laps and more sections of the track, would be a better outcome for racegoers.

Maybe that assumption was wrong. By cutting the track down, officials removed most of its history and character. The high-speed low-downforce blast through the German forest was replaced by a generic Herman Tilke circuit that could’ve realistically been built anywhere in the world. They removed the famous long straights, the old campsites, the wild forest parties, and they removed the pent up excitement that came from cars entering the stadium. Rather than maintaining Hockenheim as a unique venue on the calendar, they made it the same as everywhere else.

Perhaps the features that made Hockenheim unique were more important to spectators than better facilities.

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