The ‘absolutely absurd’ factor harming F1 interest in key European territory

Thomas Maher
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel leads the 2018 German Grand Prix. Hockenheim, Germany July 2018.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel leads the 2018 German Grand Prix. Hockenheim, July 2018.

A prominent German F1 racer believes that his country is going through a natural lull in interest, which is normal given what’s come before…

Germany is currently without a Grand Prix on the calendar, despite being one of the most successful and well-represented countries throughout the sport’s history. But, with government interest in a race on the wane, as well as audience figures, Germany is merely a peripheral country in F1 at the moment.

That’s despite the participation, and recent dominance, of the Mercedes F1 team, the return of Nico Hulkenberg to F1, the only recent departure of four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel, as well as Mick Schumacher’s step down from a race seat.

Nick Heidfeld points to ‘absurd’ success leading to F1 lull

Former F1 racer Nick Heidfeld was once one of six German drivers on the grid at the same time, back in 2011, but that number has eroded dramatically in the decade since.

With just Nico Hulkenberg on the grid this season, and no particularly strong German talents rising through the ranks, Heidfeld reckons the incredible success of German racers like Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel, and Nico Rosberg, means that a type of apathy has set in – a natural lull in interest that may rekindle when success isn’t so recent.

“I think it’s relatively normal that it couldn’t go on like this forever,” Heidfeld told German publication Sport1.

“Not only did we have the first German Formula 1 world champion with Michael Schumacher, but two more after that: Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg.

“It’s absolutely absurd what Germany has achieved. Even though we are a rich country with a lot of car manufacturers, we were extremely spoiled in that respect. It’s presumptuous to believe that the next one will always come along.” recommends

Seven F1 tracks that deserve a place on the calendar forever

Revealed: The contract status of every single race on the F1 2023 calendar

With F1 disappearing from free-to-view TV as RTL lost the rights in favour of the paywalled Sky product, Heidfeld said he suspects there has been oversaturation of the sport in Germany due to that success.

“Here, too, I think you can speak of oversaturation, at least in part,” he said.

“Just as there was a Schumacher boom here, there was one afterward with [Fernando] Alonso in Spain and now with [Max] Verstappen in the Netherlands.

“All companies have to look at profitability, so ultimately an investment has to pay off. Of course, I would also like everyone to be able to watch all the races, including practice sessions, and preferably without advertising.

“But equally, everyone can imagine that this is unrealistic. There are different variations in different countries that work. In England, a country that loves motorsports, Formula 1 is sometimes shown on pay TV and still has a lot of viewers.”

Nick Heidfeld’s hopes for Mick Schumacher’s F1 return

The significant hope for Germany remains Mick Schumacher, the former Haas F1 racer and son of seven-time F1 World Champion Michael. Having lost his seat with the American squad, Schumacher is doing his best to find an F1 seat over the coming seasons and not allow his F1 dream to dwindle.

Schumacher’s immediate hopes of a race seat appear to be with Alpine in sportscar racing, but Heidfeld said he must do everything he can to stay in the shop window for F1.

“He must always try to keep one foot in Formula 1 – even if it’s only as a test driver,” he said.

“Back then, I was a test driver for Pirelli and a reserve driver for Mercedes. We also see it with Nico Hulkenberg. He had already been written off three times and is now firmly back in the saddle. You always have to believe in yourself and in the opportunity, you can’t back down and you have to look for your chances. I hope and think that Mick is doing that and has the right advice.”

Read Next: Revealed: The F1 car which gave Adrian Newey the greatest satisfaction