June 9, 2018 / 5:35 PM / 4 months ago

Motor racing-F1 not a true championship without Germany, says Rosberg

MONTREAL, June 9 (Reuters) - Formula One needs to keep the German Grand Prix on the calendar for the credibility of the sport, former world champion Nico Rosberg said on Saturday.

Hockenheim is back this year but the future is uncertain beyond that and local promoters have said they cannot continue without a new deal that is free of financial risk to them.

“Without a German race I struggle to see it as a real world championship,” Rosberg told Reuters television at an event organised by F1 sponsors Heineken to promote drink-driving awareness.

“Germany is so legendary, so important for Formula One it really has to be there so I hope they find a solution,” added the German, who won his 2016 title in a season that included a race at Hockenheim.

The circuit, near Mannheim in the Upper Rhine valley, has hosted the race in alternate seasons over the past decade, sharing it with the Nuerburgring until that track pulled out after 2013 for financial reasons.

Hockenheim receives no state funding, unlike races in some countries with little motorsport heritage — such as Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi — which pay tens of millions of dollars for their slot.

Germany is a home race for world champions Mercedes as well as Ferrari’s four-times title-holder Sebastian Vettel, who grew up nearby.

In the glory days of seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher with Benetton and Ferrari, Germany hosted two races a year with huge crowds drawn to Hockenheim and the Nuerburgring.

Those crowds have dropped significantly since Schumacher departed the scene at the end of 2012.

With Miami likely to debut next year, as a second race in the United States, and Vietnam seemingly also in the pipeline, F1’s commercial rights holders Liberty have plenty of options on a calendar currently at a record-equalling 21 rounds.

“Miami would be epic, that would be great so I really hope that works out as well,” said Rosberg, who retired after winning his title with Mercedes. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Clare Fallon)

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