Bernie Ecclestone confirms Nurburgring German GP

Jenson Button and Sergio Perez helped unveil the new McLaren MP4'28 car yesterday. Picture: PA
Jenson Button and Sergio Perez helped unveil the new McLaren MP4'28 car yesterday. Picture: PA
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THE 2013 German Grand Prix will go ahead as planned at the Nurburgring.

After months of speculation over the venue, and even whether the race would take place at all, Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed he has concluded a deal for the 7 July event.

“I treasure the Nurburgring and its history,” 82-year old Ecclestone said in a statement. “In view of its long tradition, I was glad to support choosing the Nurburgring as the venue.”

The Nurburgring has endured severe financial difficulties and narrowly avoided bankruptcy last year. That led to the prospect of the race being switched to Hockenheim, despite the fact it hosted last year’s event under the German GP rotation system.

But Ecclestone has finally managed to conclude a deal that guarantees 19 races on the 2013 F1 calendar. There is still a vacant slot for July 19-21 as Turkey was due to return but has since fallen by the wayside.

France, Portugal and Austria have been mentioned to fill in but it seems highly likely there will be no race that weekend.

Meanwhile, McLaren unveiled their 2013 car yesterday with a blast from the past as the team celebrated 50 years in the sport.

Paying tribute to the late Bruce McLaren, who set up the company in 1963, a succession of winning cars spanning the decades were driven into the factory atrium before the sleek new MP4-28 was revealed.

The cars included Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi’s 1974 M23 car, compatriot Ayrton Senna’s MP4/4 from 1988 and Mika Hakkinen’s title-winning MP4-13 from a decade later.

Britain’s Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion, will be the team leader with new Mexican team-mate Sergio Perez chasing his first win after two seasons with Sauber.

Perez made clear he was out for more than just the occasional top step of the podium, however, with a team that finished third overall last year and is hungry for a first constructors’ title since 1998.

“I want to win the championship, that’s my target,” declared the 23-year-old.

Button said he was raring to go in a car that looks, on the surface, similar to the one that won seven races last season.

“It’s exactly the same colour scheme so some people might look at this and go ‘ah, it looks kind of similar to last year’ but I tell you, this is completely different,” said Button. “Under the skin, it is so, so different. I think that’s why it’s such an exciting season.”

The Briton, now 33 and in his fourth season at McLaren after winning his title with Brawn GP, added: “It has been a long winter but also most of the winter I have been so excited. I feel like a kid again.”

That excitement may have something to do with the departure of 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton to rivals Mercedes at the end of last season.

Hamilton was not the only absentee at Woking, with long-serving technical director Paddy Lowe playing no part in the launch after being linked with a move to Mercedes.

“One certainty is that Paddy will be a part of the team for another year,” said McLaren principal Martin Whitmarsh. “It is less certain, as has been speculated in the media, beyond that but it’s something I’m sure we will have some certainty on in the near future.

“Clearly there is a lot of media interest and I think it’s good that Paddy concentrates on doing his job.

“So at his own election he felt it was inappropriate for him to be here,” added Whitmarsh.

He also said that McLaren had to be more consistent after failing to make the most of what was, at least at the start and end of last season, the quickest car on the grid.

“Clearly we can’t be satisfied with an outcome where we win quite a few races, are fast most of the time, but don’t actually win the championship,” he added.