Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff has said that the low attendance at Hockenheim is “not satisfying” given Germany’s current success in Formula 1.
Germany is currently enjoying a spell of dominance in the sport. Sebastian Vettel has won the last four world titles for Red Bull, German marque Mercedes is the runaway leader this season, and a German driver leads the drivers’ championship in the shape of Nico Rosberg.
However, for practice on Friday at Hockenheim, the grandstands were nearly empty, and the attendance for the race on Sunday is predicted to be less than 50,000. For the British Grand Prix, well over double that figure packed into the stands at Silverstone to cheer Lewis Hamilton on to a home victory. For Wolff, the situation is very disappointing.
“It’s not satisfying,” he said. “If you compare Hockenheim Friday to Friday at Silverstone and Friday in Austria, it’s a different world and we have to understand why that is.”
Even on the Thursday in Austria, fans flocked to the circuit purely for driver signings and events, causing severe traffic delays en route to the Red Bull Ring.
Wolff still thinks that the figure could surpass the predictions given that some may have not bought a ticket yet, but he does agree that something must be done to improve the situation.
“I’m not sure whether we have an exact number for Sunday already,” he said. “You know, there are lots of people probably deciding at short notice, depending on the weekend. “We have to analyse the phenomenon. If the weekend continues like it does now, we need to think about it.”
The attendance for last year’s German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring was also low, and even when combined with the Bahrain and Monaco Grands Prix in 2013, the three races did not match the single figure for the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas.
In a feature on MotorSportsTalk yesterday, I looked at the current ‘golden generation’ of sportsmen in Germany, and how the nation has dominated the F1 scene since the turn of the century. However, the reasons why this is not translating into ticket sales – be it high prices or lack of access – need to be assessed.