Fans, Hockenheimring, 2019

Vettel: Some races should stay even if they pay nothing

2019 German Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel believes some races as so important to Formula 1’s identity they should stay part of the sport regardless of who much money they pay.

Sunday’s German Grand Prix will be the last for the foreseeable future as the race does not yet have a place on the 2020 F1 calendar. Vettel doubts the race will return unless a new source of income for it can be found.

“I know the people here very well,” he said. “They are putting a lot of effort and a lot of passion. They are very keen on staying and having the grand prix here. It’s a great show.

“I don’t think they make any money. I think they lost money last year. Thanks to Mercedes [this year’s title sponsor] they were able to have the grand prix again.

“So I don’t know what is the negotiation for next year and how much more money they would need or not, I don’t know. But the problem is obviously that Germany is not keen to pay anything so you need people from outside, investors. The government is not happy to support unlike in the Netherlands, unlike in other places that we go.”

Vettel doesn’t want to see heritage races priced out of appearing on the calendar. “I think it’s important that we don’t lose certain grands prix irrelevant of what they pay.

“Formula 1 without Monza would be stupid. Losing big countries with a lot of racing history like Germany or, we’ve been to Spain through the years, I think is wrong.

“But I’m not deciding. People always want to make money and profit so it doesn’t help if tracks pay less than others. But I think it’s important to bring the sport where there’s passion for the sport so keep countries like Germany on the calendar or the UK or those iconic places. That would be my take on it.

“I think it’s more fun as well for us driving in front of a lot of people rather than empty grandstands. Even if they are all equipped with new seats but useless when there’s nobody sitting in them.”

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23 comments on “Vettel: Some races should stay even if they pay nothing”

  1. Thanks to Mercedes [this year’s title sponsor] they were able to have the grand prix again.

    Seems like a perfect marketing opportunity for Audi or BMW to sponsor future GPs, and hope for a similar Mercedes outcome as this one.

    That said, not sure I fully agree with Vettel’s sentiment and example. We had two good races in these two years, but there’s many other circuits I’d think are nicer to watch.

    And favouring certain venues over others (via no hosting fees) ends up being another variant of paying non-performance-based bonuses to only some teams. I’d rather Liberty look at the hosting fees situation holistically such that it is affordable for all venues. But when they’ve sunk ~16 billion into it, it’s going to be hard.

  2. Panagiotis Papatheodorou (@panagiotism-papatheodorou)
    30th July 2019, 8:31

    I definitely agree. Germany isn’t as a pivotal or iconic venue as Italy or Britain, but still is a very historic race. 3 world champions, two of which are some of the most successful ones of the last 30 years, are German and the greatest team in recent history is also based on Germany.

    1. Definitely disagree. If any country with a champion would have a right for a free race, how many races in a year are we going to have?

      Unless they restore good old Hockenheim.

  3. I almost agree but that would open the way for Silverstone, Monza, Monaco, Spa and others not to contribute. Tough one

    1. Modern Silverstone is boring as well. They should bring back 1990 configuration.

      1. Yes. How many boring races have we had at the modern layout of Silverstone? Too many to count (but only if 0 is too many to count).

  4. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
    30th July 2019, 8:58

    If we’re giving certain “heritage” countries/races a free pass, I would certainly hope that F1 would consider using better tracks for those countries. (ie; Nurburgring, Imola, etc)

  5. Well it’s already done with Monaco so I agree with Vettel on this , especially if the alternative is a crappy street circuit or somewhere like Saudi Arabia.

  6. For once agree with him, classic European(Spa, Italian GP, Silverstone) and non-European(Japanese, Canadian and Brazil) stages should stay on calendar. Like it was few years back alternating German GP between 2 venues should be brought back.

  7. Yeah. It’s a good track. I love how it drives, you can push and if you get it wrong you are penalized.

  8. I’d like to agree, but if all the “proper” races are free, then either the teams get less money, or the already exuberant hosting fees for other races skyrocket.

  9. A better business model would be F1 pays the track to host the event, which coveres the costs. Then all ticket reciepts go back to F1. It safeguards tracks and also forces F1 to make its sport as exciting as possible to sell tickets.

    1. @emu55 – that’s an interesting thought. F1 “rents” out a circuit to run their race. It would make it easier for them to put in a demand for better facilities, etc. One downside is that the local promoter – who is often well placed to locally promote the race – will not have an incentive to do so, unless Liberty puts in a variable component to the “rent”.

      Liberty, though, might not be thrilled at having to pony up more money after having paid something like 17 billion already!

      Definitely an idea worth debating for its merits and cons.

      1. I believe Indycar has tried it without much success. On the flip side, Nascar does own a lot of their tracks.

        Probably a better route would be to flip flop between two circuits in a country. Say Hockenheim and Berlin. I think this approach would work really well in the US with Vegas, Chicago and Miami.

    2. It would be a fairer and better business model for the circuits, and probably better for motorsport as a whole, as a circuits not losing money has to be a good thing. I’d like to see it.

      For FOM however, the current business model is perfect for them. Low risk, high reward. Somehow Bernie has previously convinced everyone that the host circuit / government should wear all the risk, and that FOM should get all the reward. Clever from a business perspective.

  10. You can certainly see his point, and I’ll take it a step further. What if only very rich countries that are willing to subsidize races could have them? Then we would have nothing but Abu Dahbi, Bahrain, Etc. And who would be showing up to these races? Practically no one. Then the sport would die from lack of interest and that would be that.

    I think the costs of F1 have gotten far to great to be sustainable, and eventually there will be a reckoning, or the sport will implode and go away. I used to attend a race every year, and have been priced out of it for some time. The venues have been complaining about the insane cost of hosting forever, and nothing has changed. The smaller teams have been on the brink for years, and nothing changes. Its capitalism at its best/worst. You can go as fast as you can afford, but if no one else can afford to run, and you’re running at a track no one wants to travel to, and no one is there to see you run, whats the point.

    1. At least Bahrain’s GPs recently have been great.

  11. pastaman (@)
    30th July 2019, 15:24

    Tracks should get a “heritage” bonus and pay less money to host a race the longer they have been on the calendar.

  12. RocketTankski
    30th July 2019, 16:20

    crowdfunding? If every F1 viewer donated just $1 a month it would be a tidy sum. Even $1 a year would be a significant amount.

    1. Many of us watch F1 on pay TV, so we’re already paying via that route (although the routing of funds is circuitous). Liberty need to sort this out, so I don’t think we should be asked to open our wallets again. If it takes the implosion of the sport we love to make the powers that be come to their senses, then so be it.

  13. we dont need bahrein china sochi baku vietnam abudhabi

    1. Says who?
      Bahrain and Baku have offered up several good races. Unless you’re going by non-sporting reasons.
      We’ve not yet raced in Vietnam, so why pre-judge?

  14. So who is gonna pay.. The fans? Vettel? I dont think so….

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