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.
In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.
Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.
Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.
The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.
“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”
Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.
SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.
When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.
SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.
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