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What is wrong with 'motorsport country' Germany?

What is wrong with 'motorsport country' Germany?

11-12-2022 18:15
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GPblog.com

It seems like an eternity ago: Michael Schumacher, according to many still the greatest F1 driver of all time, who thrilled an entire nation. All of Germany closely followed their compatriot's successes. Grands Prix were mainly German affairs, also thanks to other illustrious drivers like Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Ralf Schumacher.

How different is the situation today. Once motorsport-crazy Germany seems to have lost all interest in the sport. The ratings actually say it all: in 2022, an average of 2.4 million Germans watched Grands Prix. Two years earlier, the figure was 4 million. It should be mentioned that nowadays the races are entirely behind a paywall, where in the past the open channel RTL had the broadcasting rights.

No Grand Prix

There is no place for a German Grand Prix on F1's crowded calendar either. Indeed, it is not even talked about at all. With the elimination of the Chinese Grand Prix in 2023, Germany was briefly mentioned as a possible replacement. When asked, however, a spokesperson for the Hockenheim circuit revealed that it had no interest in a one-off event, which would have to be set up in a hurry. No doubt many other countries would immediately honour a request to hold an F1 race. Even if it is only a one-off. But Germany? No.

Of course, Michael Schumacher was an absolute icon as a driver. He created a fandom currently comparable to that of Max Verstappen in the Netherlands. Someone like Schumacher is not easily replaced, so it makes sense that attention for the sport is waning. As soon as Verstappen quits, F1's popularity in the Netherlands is also likely to decline. Yet there is more to it, because with Sebastian Vettel, Germany had an absolute top driver until this season.


Less popular

Four times Vettel became world champion, but in terms of popularity he never reached the heights of Michael Schumacher. Especially in his later years, Vettel no longer stood out for outstanding performances. Whereas Schumacher often got more out of the car than was in it - look at his time at Ferrari - Vettel took it easy on the eye. He hardly ever went over the limit. Only in his final months at Aston Martin and knowing his retirement was approaching, did we see something back of the old Vettel from his Red Bull days.

For the Germans, it came too late. They had already dropped out at that point. And the future makes one fear the worst. Mick Schumacher, too, has disappeared from the sport, although with Nico Hulkenberg, a compatriot replaces him. Nico Hulkenberg. Nice guy, decent driver. Not a man who attracts fans. The ratings are unlikely to rise in 2023..


Successors

In the Netherlands, Max Verstappen has ensured that motorsport is 'hot'. He makes kids want to go karting, want to race. The influx of talent has taken off. The Netherlands is becoming a true motorsport country. All thanks to Verstappen, whom all those youngsters look up to. In Germany, there is no driver that kids want to succeed. Consequently, no German super talent can be found in the junior series. So the country ends up in a vicious circle: no fresh blood, no interest from fans, again no kids who want to race, and so on.

Is Germany lost to motorsport? It doesn't have to be yet: Mick Schumacher has not been written off and he may eventually get a second chance in F1. Hopefully with a team that can compete for prizes. Thanks to his surname, a successful Mick is someone who is sure to attract new fans quickly. Moreover, Audi will make its entrance into Formula 1 in 2026. Alongside Mercedes, another great motorsport brand. If these two teams can extend their rivalry to F1, it would be great for Germany.