Ecclestone: Decision on German GP due this weekend

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Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone remains uncertain whether or not the 2015 German Grand Prix will go ahead as planned, but has set a deadline for a decision on the event this weekend.

The race had been due to take place at the Nurburgring on July 19, only for Ecclestone to confirm on January 15 that it would instead be held at Hockenheim for the second year in a row.

Hockenheim and the Nurburgring have alternated hosting the German Grand Prix since 2008 to ensure that neither circuit makes a loss for two years in succession.

Despite Ecclestone saying that F1 could simply remove the cash-strapped Nurburgring from the contract, officials at Hockenheim were less enthusiastic about the move, claiming that no deal had been agreed.

With the race in jeopardy, a number of figures including 2014 drivers’ championship runner-up Nico Rosberg expressed their dismay at the possible collapse of one of the sport’s most important rounds.

Speaking to DPA news agency in Germany, Ecclestone has now said that a final decision about the race will be made this weekend.

“Certainly by this weekend,” Ecclestone said. “[I’m] not sure it’s going to happen.”

The possible absence of the German Grand Prix is a puzzling one given the nation’s recent success in F1. Sebastian Vettel’s run of four world titles and the domination of German marque Mercedes still wasn’t enough to garner a crowd of more than 52,000 fans in 2014 – 43,000 short of Hockenheim’s capacity.

2015 is currently set to equal the record for the most number of races in a season, with 20 scheduled following the addition of the Mexican Grand Prix to the calendar.

Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?