Hockenheim ‘needs fans to support race’

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: The managing director of the Hockenheimring urges fans to support its race after a small turn-out on the first day of practice for the German Grand Prix.

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Visibility remains a big risk in the rain
F1 is looking to reduce the use of Safety Car starts in wet conditions but it may not always be possible:

I know that many fans are likely going to be happy about the standing starts after running the Safety Car for a few laps in the rain but I don’t think they should have that as the blanket rule because it needs to be remembered why they started looking at Safety Car starts to begin with: that being visibility.

Having a standing start where well over half the grid are completely blind in the spray is unnecessarily dangerous not just in terms of cars stalling but also if somebody spins towards the front like Coulthard back in Spa 1998 when you had a situation where cars behind can’t see and just pile into them.

Yes in some cases a standing start will be perfectly fine, But in other instances it simply won’t be the safe thing to do so there should be something that lets them run a Safety Car start if they absolutely need to.

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On this day in F1

Ferrari scored a one-two in the German Grand Prix ten years ago today as championship rivals Renault struggled following the sudden banning of their mass damper suspension.

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Keith Collantine
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26 comments on “Hockenheim ‘needs fans to support race’”

  1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    30th July 2016, 0:36

    Does anyone know why the attendance has been so low? So it purely down to ticket prices?

    Because as far as I can tell, there are far more reasons for going to see it than not…
    1) The championship battle is very close… And features a German.
    2) Seb Vettel is in a reasonably competitive Ferrari.
    3) The racing this season has been by and large exciting.
    4) The cars are louder this season (approaching V8 decibels).
    5) The cars are much faster than they were back in 2014, and are producing near on 1000bhp.
    6) Germany has an incredibly rich Motorsport heritage.
    7) The weather looks fantastic this weekend. Rain is no excuse.

    Is Hockenheim in a very inconvenient location or something? Because all of the factors listed above, leaves ticket pricing and location as the only two possibilities as to why the German GP has poor attendance. Surely?

    1. The Problem in my opinion is, that most fans who turned up during the Schumacher era, were Schumacher fans and not Formula 1 fans, as like in Silverstone. In Germany you will see such a phenomenon in lots of sports if you take Football out, in tennis they were only interested in Steffi Graf and Boris Becker, the same with Basketball and Dirk Nowitzki and so on. And as they are only interested in the “first star” in the specific sport, the others who come through afterwards do not have the same support as the fans lose interest when their “first star” retires.

      Hypothetically, if Motorsports or F1 had the same level of enthusiasm as football among the supporters for the sport itself, the German Grand Prix wouldn’t have problems with attendance figures.

      This is my theory, and I say that as a German.

      1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
        30th July 2016, 1:20

        Mmm interesting!

        Yeah I mean I’m just genuinely curious as to why a country that clearly has a love of Motorsport looks like it’s going to have one of the worst attended grands prix of the season. I mean heck, they turned out in droves for the WEC 6H of Nurburgring just 7 days ago.

        I suppose the track layout could play a part, but I’d be surprised if it were a significant factor. I mean, Hockenheim has seen fantastic attendance with this new layout, so I don’t really buy the ‘Tilke-effect’ argument on this one.

        1. If your are German and genuinely interested in Motorsports, would you rather go to the WEC for a 6h Event which will cost you like 50€ or so and you have access to a pitwalk? Or buy a Grandstand ticket for 5 times as much for a 2h Grand Prix with no bonus of getting close to the participants?

          I think F1 is also too exclusive for the “normal” fans.
          Silverstone tickets are also very expensive, but at least you have fans who are really interested not only in British drivers but the sport itself, so you can sell lots of tickets. In Germany there isn’t such a interest in the sport, not even when Sebastian Vettel was winning regularly. You never saw whole grand stands packed with RedBull fans like in the Schumacher day with Ferrari or before that in Benetton colours.

          1. THIS – We went to the WEC at the nurburgring last year and the value is off the scale in comparison to F1. Open access to all the grandstands all weekend, 6hr race, couple of pitwalks and autograph sessions, open access to the paddock etc for I think 40€ which included camping.
            Add to that F1 does no real marketing, relying on the promoters who are already hard up against it with the race hosting fees and let’s be honest, is the product really that good right now?

        2. @tophercheese21, from what I have seen, the announced attendance figures for the 2016 6 Hours of the Nurburgring were 62,000 over three days (i.e. the cumulative total for the practise, qualifying and race days). It is hard to make an accurate assessment of the long term interest in that event though (i.e. whether the races are becoming more or less popular over time) as they only introduced that race onto the WEC calendar in 2015.

        3. @tophercheese21, @t4bb3, I and @bascb are in Hockenheim for the weekend, complete with camping; the atmosphere is friendly and fun, though not nearly as busy as 10 years ago, when we were here last. Schumacher had just announced his retirement, and there were loads of his fans to see them a final time at home.

          We do see vans with beer and the same Schumi flags out, though many others are now wearing Vettel #5 Ferrari shirts instead. I think his move to Ferrari has rekindled a lot, though it will take a while. German audience has not declined last year, that’s hopeful.

          The largest other group are Dutch fans. A lot of the, and most here for Max Verstappen. Many seem old Jos ‘The Boss’ fans and their kids, friends, who now support the son. F1 got a huge boost in N from having a successful F1 driver. For them, Hockenheim is close, and in summer holidays, making it more convenient than Spa; I expect both tracks to profit, if they can hang on; ‘Vmax’ will pull NL fans (back) in.

          Further, the English media have been quite pessimistic and negative about Hockenheim (only few weeks ago I read an article questioning whether it would be happening this year, even though we had tickets ordered since December). Can’t have helped.

          OK, now to watch GP3 qualifying!

      2. I wonder what attendance was like before Schumacher was around. I didn’t see a race before ’93 so I would have to have a look at some race highlights but surely it wasn’t as low as it is now? I can see that the Spanish GP have these same problems with attendance when Alonso retires – I do remember the pre-Alonso days and the races were without a doubt quieter affairs, attendance wise.

        1. Just checked 1991 on YouTube and the grandstands were fully packed, even in the forest section and Ostkurve. Being German and F1 supporter since 1991 (Motorsports in general) I must admit that I only attended a race once, ironically the European GP 1999, when Schumi had to take a break. Full weekend for 65 € BTW. I enjoy the tv coverage lying on the couch even though sometimes RTL commentary and commercial breaks can minimise the fun. But I will definitely go and see a race in the next years with my son, I just don’the know which I will choose as Spa is closer to my home than Hockenheim, Spielberg would be nice for the scenery and maybe Zandvoort in combination with some days at the seaside…

          1. Pre-stadium capacity was 105,000; post-stadium (2002) was 130,000. In the original Schumacher era both configurations sold out on F1 weekends.

    2. Location is fine. It is a quick trip by rail or car from Frankfurt, Mannheim, and Stuttgart, and that is just within an hour. I don’t think the track quite suffers from a Magny Cours effect, even though Hochenheim itself is pretty sleepy.

      I know that I certainly had sticker shock paying 250 Euro for a Mercedes Tribune grandstand Sunday seat in 2014 , but I was willing to splurge because the circumstances were just by chance that I was in the area at that exact time and I hadn’t seen an F1 race since the 2006 US Grand Prix (which I went to for $120 for all three days with a decent Turn 1 seat for Sunday). 250 is a lot when you can watch excellent coverage on TV and it is definitely too much to for the F1-lite fans or the curious-minded to be interested in participating.

    3. Ok, let’s get back to this with a few days of time to consider the question posed. Yes, I have asked myself that question too on the 29th sat in those grandstands myself with @bosyber.

      Honestly, I think the biggest reason why so many grandstands are empty on those tweets is simply that they are from early on a friday morning, when the majority of the fans that stay for multiple days arrive either during the friday or even on saturday.
      And those that arrive earlier have had party music going untill about 3-4 am and are simply still sleeping, planning to have a look on track maybe by noon.

      The grandstands were noticably fuller on the afternoon (the track closed off some parts to better fill the others like the main grandstand). Saturday they filled up even more during the day and sunday come race day the grandstands around the Motodrome were partly full (innentribune) or decently filled (Südtribune) – a lot of ppl were also in the roofed part above/behind the grandstands there simply getting a bit of shade or a drink.

      It certainly was not yet close to what they had at the top of the Schumi years, but it felt pretty good by Sunday. And the atmosphere was good enough, surprisingly the food was not overpriced at all (not even getting to festival levels!) and we could bring our own stuff with us too. I think many will be returning, the Dutch will find this track for more Verstappen love and the Vettel fans will be there too.

  2. Maybe don’t charge such ridiculous prices for grandstand tickets? I go to an F1 race every year, but honestly, I felt a little sick ordering this year’s tickets, partly because of the price, partly because the season was a foregone conclusion a few races in.

    Oh, and as for the Vettel / Rosberg factor… I don’t really think the German fans care that much. Last time I was at a German GP (2014) it seemed neither had a significant amount of support.

    1. @textuality, Your comment about a “foregone conclusion” highlights the real malaise in F1, going to an F1 race should not be about who is going to win, it should be about 20+ cars racing around a track at frightening speeds on the very edge of control with engines being pushed to and beyond their limits, the crowd should be enthralled by the spectacle and concerned their favourite driver/s may crash out or suffer mechanical failure right up until the chequered flag is waved. Unfortunately todays F1 has all the excitement of a chess match between computer aided players, when making your tyres last a few more laps is better than being half a second per lap faster and can actually place you ahead of faster drivers then it becomes a cerebral exercise rather than an edge of the seat experience, combine that with engines that are no longer only controlled by the drivers right foot but restricted by a computer “nanny” to a regime that should keep them healthy for many a race and it’s checkmate to excitement.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        30th July 2016, 12:10

        That’s the problem. Watching on TV, I’d say it’s 50/50 whether the race keeps my attention or not these days. I can’t justify £300+ to go on my own and watch something I can take or leave. That is going on my own as well – if I wanted to take my wife, that figure doubles. I don’t have kids but if I did, the figure becomes massively high!

        These days, I am torn between watching a race live on TV or going out in the sun and watching in the evening. Spending £300+ to watch it isn’t even in my thoughts!

    2. The problem is that Silverstone (for example) must charge £220 per seat, assuming a sell-out of a slightly larger-capacity venue, just to pay off the Bernie fee…

  3. Haryanto looked thoroughly depressed in yesterdays’ presser. :( I feel sorry for the guy, it’s never good not knowing what your immediate future is.

    Meanwhile I dunno what’s up with this every 2nd driver saying something different regarding the same topics every 2nd day. GPDA needs to pull its finger out imo and provide a united front, no wonder if you’re not being listened to if you’re all saying different things.

    1. @skipgamer Haryanto future is pretty clear according to the article. Secure another 7.5m euro and he’ll set until end of the season. The problem is his side is promising but not delivering (the money).

    2. The GPDA doesn’t have all the drivers, and some of those who are object to having an organisation speaking on behalf of it asking for the opposite of what they want. The GPDA has tried to get unity and failed.

    3. Dor a start GPDA should hold a genuine voting round among the drivers before saying x% of the drivers support a change. They make a bit of a fool of themselves by saying 95% of the drivers support the halo without actually asking the drivers.

  4. The thing is, I think it’s not a case of teams, drivers, fans, etc., not being listened to. I echo what another comment said yesterday, I think everyone is being listened to, and the result is usually a compromise nobody wanted.

    However, listening to everybody doesn’t mean taking into account what they are actually asking for. It’s important to listen to everybody, but make the correct decision on what is best for Formula One as a sport, and as a financial model the teams, circuits, sponsors, and fans are a part of. That’s what is lacking in my view. There’s too much focus on silly things with bad solutions and the result is a mess.

  5. petebaldwin (@)
    30th July 2016, 8:30

    F1 fans ‘need sport to support them’

  6. Willem Cecchi (@)
    30th July 2016, 8:30

    According to the official F1 website all tickets are sold out…

  7. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    30th July 2016, 9:51

    “Formula Moan” the sport the drivers, fans, teams and everyone involved loves to hate. Here’s to another good weekend 🍻

  8. In terms of German GP attendance its not just F1 that has suffered as attendance & TV ratings have been in decline for most Motorsport categories in Germany. Compare the attendance for DTM 10 years ago to what was seen a few months ago.

  9. It might not be ‘politically correct’ to say this, but it appears Nico Rosberg does not have an adequate fan base in Germany. Like we saw in Silverstone, genuine fans come out no matter what to support their driver. One may argue that he is not German, but the fact is he DOES claim German citizenship, and DOES race under the German flag.

    Seeing the crowds that turned out at Silverstone to cheer Hamilton – and Button – a couple of weeks ago, plus the phenomenal celebration following Hamilton’s victory, I feel genuinely sorry for Rosberg, when I see the images of the stands from the Hockenheimring.

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