Formula 1 has not raced in Germany since 2020 and, post-pandemic, the nation’s run of world championship titles has come to an end too.
Haas’s Nico Hulkenberg has not contributed to that title haul for his nation, and has not even stood on the podium since debuting in 2010, but is the 24th most experienced F1 driver of all time by grands prix starts. He is not just the only German driver on the grid this season but may well be also likely to be for several years – should he retain his seat – as there are few promising Germans in junior single-seaters.
At the most recent F1 race, in the neighbouring country of Belgium, Hulkenberg was asked about the perceived decreased popularity of F1 in his home nation, but said he was “not concerned” by it.
“It’s a fact that F1 is not so popular, so booming right now,” Hulkenberg admitted. “Definitely, it had times where it was much more present in Germany, much more well perceived. It’s a true observation, and I share it.”
Last year marked the first time since the world championship’s creation that F1 had gone more than a full season without a race in Germany. The Haas driver said he “wouldn’t be against” the country returning to the calendar in 2025 or beyond.
“It wouldn’t make a difference for me, and I don’t expect it to happen”, he said. “I’m not behind the scenes there [at the German Motor Sport Federation]. I don’t know, maybe some people are trying to pull some strings [to make a race].”
Hulkenberg also pointed out that environmental concerns have hurt F1’s popularity.
“I think in Germany the perception of, in general, the automotive industry – it’s like responsible for climate change, it’s not sustainable. And I think that rubs off onto motorsport, and that’s why I think there’s a perception and what politics tell the people is that this is bad and somehow has a negative impact on racing and F1 too.”
In contrast to Hulkenberg is his American-Italian team boss Guenther Steiner, who likes the idea of not only having a home race for his German driver but also one for his Danish team-mate Kevin Magnussen.
“With the popularity of F1 right now, I think we could race everywhere and sell out the venue,” Steiner said.
“Obviously, there are contracts in place and Formula One Management is managing this, but I think a race in Germany would be appropriate in my opinion. It’s a big ‘car’ country, there’s a German driver and there’s a lot of history within F1.
“At the moment, it’s the only market that is a bit in decline, everywhere else is growing, so of course a race would help, and it would give millions of fans in Germany a chance to see a race in their home country.
“Denmark’s also got a lot of history in F1, now having Kevin here is what they want and there was a plan to have a race in Copenhagen which would’ve been fantastic. It’s a fantastic city and I think they would’ve been ready, but I think the politicians couldn’t agree, so therefore it was decided not to have it for now but hopefully, that idea comes back.”
There were plans for a Copenhagen-based F1 grand prix in 2018, but they collapsed when the city was not willing to fund the race. However the streets are still used for racing in the annual Copenhagen Historic Grand Prix which features modern touring cars as well as historic single-seaters.
Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and
2023 F1 season
- Tsunoda shows more signs of progress against trio of team mates in 2023
- Leclerc turns the tables on Sainz at last race in another close fight at Ferrari
- F1 teams banned from working on 2026 car designs until end of next year
- Strong second half of Piastri’s debut season will put Norris on alert for 2024
- Russell can’t repeat points win over Hamilton but proves a close match again