Poor German GP attendance “not satisfying” – Wolff

2014 German Grand Prix

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Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff says Formula One should look into the low spectator attendance for this weekend’s German Grand Prix.

Hockenheim’s large grandstands, which were expanded in 2002 to accommodate more spectators, were sparsely populated on the first day of running at the track. It comes after F1 enjoyed a string of well-attended races in Britain, Austria and Canada.

“It’s not satisfying,” Wolff admitted. “If you compare Hockenheim Friday to Friday in Silverstone and Friday in Austria it’s a different world, and we have to understand why they is.”

“I’m not sure whether we have the exact number [of spectators] for Sunday already, there are lots of people probably deciding short notice depending on the weekend. Then we have to analyse the phenomenon.

“If the weekend continues like it does now we can think about it.”

German competitors have enjoyed great success in Formula One in recent years. Sebastian Vettel won the world championship for the last four years in a row, Nico Rosberg is leading the drivers’ championship and Mercedes are comfortably ahead in the constructors’ championship.

Wolff added the team “must tackle” the reliability problems which have caused two retirements for the team in the last three races.

“We are looking very solid in terms of pace,” he said. “The car is quick and the car was very reliable at the beginning of the season, if you look besides Melbourne.”

“Since then we have had a couple of issues which we must get on top of. We are working very hard and trying to understand how to improve reliability, mechanical reliability is one of our most important objects obviously because in order to win you need to finish.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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47 comments on “Poor German GP attendance “not satisfying” – Wolff”

  1. Finally, England is better than Germany at something.

    1. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall)
      18th July 2014, 17:09

      I wouldn’t mind trading a poor attendance at Silverstone for the World Cup mind you.

    2. Haha, the Germans have had it lucky this year in terms of sporting success, us Brits have to cling to what we have left…

      1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
        18th July 2014, 22:07

        @williamstuart – Do as us American’s do, and start creating your own sports. :D

      2. Lewis is going to win the world championship. That’s enough for me

  2. 200-500 euro for a decent seat? That’s all the look you need to take Toto. I’m an hour away from this race and I’ll be watching from home.. Granted I’ll have to turn the TV up pretty loud, but eh….

  3. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall)
    18th July 2014, 17:10

    Maybe in Germany the new rule changes aren’t too popular? It’s weird how few people are there in comparison to the last few races. A real blip, very strange.

    1. Hubert Reinartz
      18th July 2014, 17:29

      The rule changes are not popular at all. You are right. Wait until the wear of the “power units” (as they call them know – I prefer a real engines) starts to byte the teams with penalties. Even more people will stay home! I know a lot of people are tired of the complaints. OK, you can have the grandstand for yourself. I go and watch the DTM!

  4. Looks like Bahrain out there.

    1. But without the good racing

  5. And to think, people gave Hamilton grief when he said Rosberg had an 1/8th the support in Germany that he did at Silverstone.

    Looks like 1/8th is generous, if anything.

    1. It would be interesting to see the changes in support for the two men. Sebby is definitely a more likeable guy, dare I say it his fan base is only going to increase this year, as the people that hated his domination will be won over by his friendly nature. Rosberg is more clinical and less ‘jokey’ but has a chance of winning the WDC this year, and we might see which of the two draws in more fans. If I was German, I’d definitely support Seb but I’m not sure how fickle the majority of his supporters are.

      1. I still think Lewis had a point. I just don’t think any of the German drivers have massive German support.

        Unlike Britain, entirely. Even Chilton got an enormous amount of support at Silverstone this year. The cheer for him overtaking Kobayashi was just as loud as Hamilton taking the lead.

      2. @williamstuart

        Sebby is definitely a more likeable guy, dare I say it his fan base is only going to increase this year, as the people that hated his domination will be won over by his friendly nature

        The only thing that’s changed this year is that I don’t hear Vettel screaming over the radio every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. He knows that all he has to do is smile between every sentence to the media, and the media won’t be able to run stories against him saying he’s unhappy with the team, etc., etc. People won’t just suddenly like Vettel’s constant grin between every sentence and the obliviousness to his questionable performance level now that he’s not winning. He’s been like that since 2009: ignore problems and waiting until the car’s a dominator. The moment he’s in another destroyer of a car, it’ll go back to the way it was before. So I’d say I disagree that public opinion will change very much at all in the next few years.

        Rosberg is more clinical and less ‘jokey’

        I’d also make the argument that Rosberg’s kept a very mature persona for much of this year. With more media stirring than Vettel or Webber ever got, Hamilton’s been reeled in countless times this year, whereas only a few times has Nico humoured him and the media to straighten out a few things. So I’d say that Rosberg’s politeness and friendliness is much more refreshing than the ‘”I screwed up” “obviously we are not where we want to be” ‘ PR machine that Vettel is. Telling Monty Python jokes does not a friendly funny man make.

        Then again, that’s like, my opinion, man.

    2. Too busy getting their “Den Pott hamma!” T-shirts printed. Probably spent too much time focusing on World Cup when it may have been time to get pumped up for F1 and get tickets.

  6. I’m surprised when anyone questions poor attendances at GPs these days. Almost unique among sports, F1 is virtually impossible to follow fully unless you are watching a television screen. It’s almost laughable how little effort is put in to serve the fans who have paid hundreds of pounds for the privilege of attending a race. Considering the cost of tickets, travel and accommodation, it’s a very poor return compared to other sporting events. Granted, the spectacle of seeing the cars driven in anger is fantastic in the flesh. But without the benefit of television – with its commentary and replays, plus info on strategy, DRS gaps, tyres, team radios, weather, in-race interviews etc – it’s very difficult to know what’s happening throughout the field. F1 is pretty much a TV sport. And I think that’s how Bernie wants it, sadly.

    1. Conversely, when I went to Silverstone I loved trying to decipher the teams’ plans, and trying to work out if the gaps between drivers was getting shorter or longer and what issues the drivers had. Maybe I’m alone, but it is refreshing not to be hand held by the commentators.

      1. Interesting. I can see how it helps while away the time trying to guess what’s happening on track, but it sounds a bit like being a blind man at a football match. Out of interest, what did you think was happening at the end of Q3?

      2. I agree that it’s interesting to try and work out what was going on during a race but there needs to be an option to have more info. I hired FanVision/KangarooTV a couple of times in the past and it was fantastic and actually enhanced the experience. It’s not about being spoon fed information, it’s about catching pit stops and understanding issues with the cars. It’s pathetic that this is no longer available at the circuits.

        At Silverstone this year I had no idea what happened at the end of qualifying and had to go home and re-watch it on BBC iPlayer. Says it all really.

    2. Felix (@icemanforever)
      18th July 2014, 18:56

      TV sport – it’s still free to watch in german television. Maybe this is one reason for poor attendance.

    3. Not to mention machinery whose visceral impact has been castrated by the lack of sound energy. word spreads and people reconsider attending GPs. Of course Britain will always have good attendance since it is the center of the F1 universe. Canada too because it is the closest track to the American northeast where there is arguably the largest concentration of true F1 fans in the US. We’ll see what happens in the next year or so.

    4. That is why I always take a stop watch to races, if you have one in each hand you can compare times of two drivers at once. :)

    5. There is a lot more data available to those at the circuits now.

      This year for example FOM introduced new bespoke graphics for the trackside big screens relaying a lot more data. There’s also the mobile app & other things accessible via smart phones & tablets providing those in the stands with timing, tracking data as well as team radio & broadcast radio commentary on top of the circuit PA system.
      Then there’s the additional video content which some broadcasters put up on there own apps & websites which these devices can access.

      Fans at the track should have a far easier time following races now, With far more data available when compared to even 10 years ago.

  7. Wow! I’m not a fan of Hockenheim but it’s horrible to see the grandstands so empty, even for a Friday. It will be interesting to find out why.

  8. What are the attendances like compared to the Nurburgring last year?

  9. Felix (@icemanforever)
    18th July 2014, 18:12

    At first, there are a few people standing under the roof of the grandstands covered by shadow.

    But: I am no more surprised about less spectators.
    Ticket prices are way too high. Who wants to pay minimum 200€ to watch this kind of formula one cars cruising around the track? A lot of money for a seat on a sun bleached chair, almost without backrest, maybe in heavy rain for watching the cars through a small gap in the fence. Additionaly, you need a screen to follow the race action – so you pay for an uncomfortable but expensive chair to watch the race on a TV screen? It doesn’t work…maybe just because it is in germany…espacially in southern germany.
    Eventhough, I’m sick an tired of the modern rules in formula one. It’s neither racing than researching new technologies. It’s just an artificial show, at least without a script.
    Let’s go and watch WEC because of love for technologie and WSR/BTCC because of love for racing. And hey, WSR is free to watch!! Let’s go to types of racing where you can trust in their authenticity.

    Go home Formula1…you are drunk.

    1. Felix (@icemanforever)
      18th July 2014, 18:49

      Btw: F1 is free to watch in german television

  10. Unless that 77 euro discount per ticket was voided, I don’t see why the place wasn’t packed full.

  11. I’ve been attending the GP in Montreal for the past 6 events and Fridays always low numbers compared to Qualy and Race however they are nothing like this ! Shocking to see how few spectators there are. It makes a tough argument when we are trying to keep traditional European venues for Formula 1. Hopefully the stands will be more pact for qualifying and the race.

  12. petebaldwin (@)
    18th July 2014, 18:51

    What else was happening on the Friday at Silverstone compared to Hockenheim in terms of support races etc and what was the difference in ticket price?

    Seems really odd that so few would turn up on a Friday!

  13. There are probably many reasons for the lack of spectators but I am going to Hockenheimring tomorrow and all I can say is that this is a very expensive trip.

    We all know how much good F1 tickets cost – my bank calls me every time I buy two F1 tickets as I never buy anything else that expensive.

    The accomodation costs are also ridiculously high. I am staying in Heidelberg (~20 km from Hockenheim) and a simple double room in a 4-star hotel costs as much as 340 euros per night. And there are other costs as well, such as transport.

    For sure, there are also cheaper ways to enjoy F1 in Hockenheim but generally you have to be either rich or crazy to do what I am doing right now (I do not consider myself to be rich).

    Anyway, German media are widely reporting that this might be the last GP at Hockenheim so maybe Wolff, Ecclestone & Co can now try to find more rich and / or crazy people elsewhere…

  14. It’s a terrible circuit and this is the first hockenheim go for a while without a certain schumi.

  15. Well, people have to work to pay for such expensive tickets, I will be there tomorrow and would have been today if not for work, maybe there is a lot of people doing just that.

  16. F1’s popularity in Germany has been in decline since Schumacher’s 1st retirement at the end of 2006.

    Nothing has changed in the TV situation for about 15 years. Everything is live on RTL alongside enhanced coverage on what is now Sky Deutschland (Used to be Premiere World & before that DSF+), Yet the TV ratings have seen a very sharp decline on both platforms.

    1. can I guess that Vettel lacks charisma?

      For me it’s unacceptable to see poor attendance (and poor tv ratings) at Germany, having they a driver that dominates the sport in the last years.

      1. Vettel doesn’t have the amount of support that Schumacher had, that’s for sure. But this situation is strange nonetheless. I mean, F1 at the moment has a lot of German protagonists. Rosberg is leading the championship, Mercedes is dominating, Vettel has won the past four championships, Hulkenberg could be the next top driver. I really can’t explain F1’s decline in Germany.

        1. Does it have anything to do with a resurgence in the popularity of DTM or other series? I’m guessing, by the way. Not sure if DTM has become more popular now or not.

          1. DTM is doing better than it has been, Although TV figures & circuit attendance is still quite poor.

            I saw it reported about a year ago that separate polling & surveys done by both Sky & RTL seems to suggest that German fans have been far less accepting of things like DRS & The high degredation tyres so maybe there playing a role in things.

  17. Well Toto, it would appear that ze Germans don’t really care for your Monegasque drivers racing in their own league this year while the local boy with the pointy finger is still coming to terms with his car.

  18. I think German people like loud engine and like less limites. F1 is now limites, controls, huge amont of rules and even more rules to put more limitations on F1.
    Germans has no limit speed on highways so they donot like nowday’s F1 where limit is everythere.

    1. Quite a lot of autobahns actually do have speed limits now, especially in urban areas and accident blackspots.

      1. There is no speed limit on 65% of the Autobahn.

  19. I was there. IT was just too hot in The sun. On friday you can sit everywhere and everybody was looking for shadow

  20. Considering how bad a year 2013 was, double points fiasco, lack of sound and ugly looking cars, it shouldn’t be a surprise that certain fans are tuning out. Although this year has been a very positive one it’s probably too late for most to change their minds and pay even more for last minute bookings. I ended up not going to the British GP for similar reasons.

  21. All

    Calm down Toto…..we’re here…and the grandstands sit on concrete….so it was like a sauna all day. We were at Silverstone and we sit at Luffield Terrace every year, and it’s never been as hot as this….god help us today!!

  22. Dear folks

    As German I can explain easily to you, why we hate F1 now.

    Rubbish cars, rubbish corps, rubbish rules, rubbish penalties, rubbish German drivers, a scandalous Mercedes team, rubbish ticket fares . . .

    I used to visit the Hockenheim Grand Prix regularly, I knew since Melbourne, I wouldn’t ever again!

    F1 is dead, R.I.P. !

    P.S. No, DTM has not become more popular, they have even more rubbish rules, e.g. hard compound drivers get blue flagged in order to let pass the drivers on soft compounds although they are within the same lap!, but they have indeed the better cars nowadays!

  23. I know when we went in 2012, we did the pit walk on Thursday and then completely skipped Friday and went to the Sinsheim Museum instead.

    In 2005 there were 110,000 spectators on the Sunday, 78,000 in 2008 and 65,000 in 2010. In 2012, there 38,000 spectators attended on Friday, 50,000 for qualifying and 62,000 on Sunday. It will be interesting to see the numbers for this year on Saturday/Sunday and if they are anywhere close to 2012.

    Can’t imagine the local government are happy to pay for F1 with those declining numbers, so maybe the rumours will turn out to be true.

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