Nico Hulkenberg concurs that Formula 1 popularity in Germany is on the decline, with the nation being “spoiled” by its big names of the past and climate change “politics” among the reasons.
Germany has a storied history in the realms of Formula 1, with the likes of seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher and four-time World champ Sebastian Vettel hailing from the nation.
Meanwhile, German team Mercedes went on a record-breaking run of eight Constructors’ titles in a row from 2014-21, while their 2016 Drivers’ champ was Germany’s Nico Rosberg.
Additional reporting by Sam Cooper and Thomas Maher
Nico Hulkenberg admits F1 has seen better days in Germany
Haas racer Hulkenberg though is now the only German driver remaining on grid, while a Grand Prix has not been held in the nation since 2020.
The junior ranks also feature a lack of German talent seen with a realistic chance of progressing to knock on the door of Formula 1, and Hulkenberg shed some light on why he believes this decline is unfolding.
“It’s a fact that F1 is not so popular, so booming right now,” he told media including PlanetF1.com.
“It definitely had times where it was much more, I think present in Germany, much more well perceived. So, it’s a true observation.
“I think it’s a few things. Obviously Germany was always spoiled in racing with Michael [Schumacher], then with Sebastian [Vettel], [Nico] Rosberg, Mercedes.
“We’ve always had a very strong presence in Formula 1, or let’s say, at least the last 30 years or so. And naturally, I think sometimes the sport is more popular and higher demand. And then naturally, probably it tails off sometimes.
“But then also, I think in Germany, the perception of, in general, the car, automotive industry, it’s responsible for climate change, it’s not sustainable. And I think that rubs off on to motorsport.
“And that’s why I think the perception and what politics tell the people is that this is bad and somehow has a negative impact on racing in Formula One too.”
There has been talk that the German Grand Prix could find its way back onto the Formula 1 calendar in the coming years, with the Hockenheimring holding a continued interest in luring the series back.
Hulkenberg though does not expect it to happen, and played down the need in his mind to race on home turf.
“I wouldn’t be against it of course, I like all the racing in Germany, [but] it wouldn’t make a difference for me and I don’t expect it to happen,” he said.
“But I’m not behind the scenes there. I don’t know, maybe some people are trying to pull some strings. But I don’t know.”
Hulkenberg made his full-time return to the grid in F1 2023 with Haas and has impressed so far this season, putting the VF-23 challenger P2 on the grid in Canada the undoubted highlight.