Blow for Formula 1 as German GP dropped

Bernie Ecclestone: No deal. Picture: AP
Bernie Ecclestone: No deal. Picture: AP
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The German Grand Prix has been dropped from this year’s Formula 1 calendar, motor sport’s world governing body the FIA has announced.

The race had been in doubt due to questions over which circuit would host the race, which has been shared between Hockenheim and Nurburgring in recent seasons.

Officials from both circuits had voiced concern that time was running out to organise the race, which was scheduled to take place over the weekend of 17-19 July.

A short FIA statement said no agreement could be reached with Bernie Ecclestone, the commercial rights holder (CRH).

“The German Grand Prix has been withdrawn as the CRH and promoter did not reach agreement,” the statement said.

The decision means the 2015 season will be shortened to 19 races, with a three-week break between the British Grand Prix on 5 July and the Hungarian Grand Prix on 26 July.

The German Grand Prix has alternated between Hockenheim and Nurburgring since 2007.

However, in January, Ecclestone said this season’s race would take place at Hockenheim for a second successive year, only for the venue to be listed as ‘To Be Announced’ when the calendar was unveiled earlier this year. Georg Seiler, the managing director of the Hockenheim circuit, told German newspaper Bild earlier this week that time had run out to organise the race.

According to the report, Hockenheim’s concerns included the sale of tickets, which had not yet begun. It also said that crowds had shrunk since the glory days of Michael Schumacher, despite the recent successes of German drivers Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg – who won last year’s German Grand Prix driving for Mercedes.

Meanwhile, England’s Alex Lowes came out fastest following second practice for the Thailand leg of the World Superbike Championship yesterday.

The 2013 world champion from Lincoln topped the combined timesheets on his Voltcom Crescent Suzuki after P1 and P2 at Chang International Circuit. Lowes posted a time of one minute 34.685 seconds in P2 to finish slightly ahead of Jonathan Rea and Wales’ Chaz Davies (Ducati) – who took a tumble in the first session – and led Northern Ireland’s Rea on his Kawasaki ZX-10R by less than a hundredth of a second.

Rea was fastest in the first practice with a time of 1min 35.004secs followed by Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes before England’s Lowes came home quickest as the times dropped during the second outing of the morning.

Davies, Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team - Red Devils), Sykes and Sylvain Guintoli (PATA Honda World Superbike Team) rounded out a top six that saw five different manufacturers represented with the riders separated by only 0.885secs.

Ulsterman Rea was pleased with his performance on the track and said: “First of all it is just nice to ride on a new track and second it is very safe as there are a lot of run-off areas. The first part is like a ‘mini-Monza’, with the first corner being exactly like Turn 1 at Assen, although it leads to a long straight. The complex area in the final section is like a small Qatar. It is a nice circuit, the asphalt is quite smooth apart from Turn 1, which is a bit bumpy.”

The riders take to the track again for P3 today ahead of the two Superpole sessions and the two races tomorrow in the second race on this year’s calendar.