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Chris Bruce2012-02-08 10:25:31

German State Cuts Contract with Nurburgring, Future Uncertain

German State Cuts Contract with Nuerburgring, Future Uncertain

Things are looking bad at the Nurburgring today. The German newspaper Rhein Zeitung is reporting that the German government is cutting its contracts with the Nurburgring and doing away with the current Nurburgring GmbH, its current operators. The paper also got access to an e-mail that the owners of the Nurburgring sent to workers saying that it has plans to fight the state in court. 

According to Rhein Zeitung, the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz has cancelled its contract with the track operators. The state had been paying rent to operate the track that costa little under €10 million for each Formula 1 race The contract said that state would continue to organize the next 5 Formula 1 races at the Nurburgring, which would get the track to 2023 as the Nurburgring and Hockenheim alternate who hosts the German Grand Prix. 

Two finance ministers and an economic minister from Rheinland-Pfalz gave a press conference on February 7th clarifying the state's position on the issue. 

According to Finance Minister Carsten Kuehl, the state will continue to fund the Nurburgring, but the breaking of these contracts represents the state restructuring the track's debts. The Nurburgring Gmbh will be replaced by a temporary operator until a more permanent custodian can be arranged. 

"You would be amazed how many inquiries from interested parties has been given, which have declared themselves, because they have realized that it is ending up there," said Interior Minister Roger Lewentz (this statement has been translated from the original German).

Lewentz went on to say that he knows that there are powerful interests that are considering buying the Nurburgring. He did not go into any details, but given the major auto companies that use the 'Ring for testing, it is hard not to see one of them being at least a little curious. 

"I want and need to talk personally with Mr. Ecclestone," said Lewentz In regards to the future of Formula 1 at the Nurburgring. Lewentz also said that it is possible that the grand prix portion of the Nurburgring's business could be separated from its other business - the Nordschleife, where most car development takes place. 

"We are looking at the whole track with all its buildings and building economic opportunities. There are many possibilities there. You have to take facilities renovation and restoration into account. We want to end this bottomless pit of spending," said Eveline Lemke, an economic minister for the state of Rheinland-Pfalz (tranlated from original German). 

The track's operators responded to the press conference with an e-mail to the workers at the track. It believes that it has valid contracts with the state through 2040 and has contacted its lawyers to start legal proceedings. It claims that it submitted a plan to the government that would assure its future economic viability. 

It says that it costs €5 million a year to run the track, and that a large portion of that money goes to Bernie Ecclestone. It warns that without the government's money, there might not be a German Grand Prix next year because Hockenheim has only signed on to host the race every other year. 

It also promised that it would be able to pay its rent in full starting the third fiscal year in May 2012. The operator's are claiming that the state government is pulling support just as the track is becoming sustainable. The operators understand that it forced this process by not adhering strictly to the contract it set with the Rheinland-Pfalz government, but it says that the track is on the verge of being sustainable. 

The Nurburgring was completed in 1927 having started construction in 1925. The construction was funded by the German government to give jobs to German workers his hard by the international Depression. The track has been continually re-worked since then adding a seperate grand prix course. Over the past few years, the track completed a massive improvement that added a new, larger museum and a new hotel. This most recent expansion has put major financial strain on the track as the improvement was completed just as the international recession deepened. 

Source: Rhein Zeitung, E-mail sent to workers (from Rhein Zeitung), English translation from Google of original story and thanks to Bridge to Gantry for pointing towards the story

1 comment

Mmm, I'll have to go quick there and rive around the track. When it starts with legal proceedings, there is nothing good to come...
13.02.2012 @ 06:33


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