Could the Nürburgring make an F1 comeback next year?
The Nürburgring is in discussions with Formula 1 bosses regarding a return to the calendar in 2019 – ongoing financial challenges and a change of ownership have prevented the circuit from hosting F1 since 2013. But when Mirco Markfort took over as chief executive officer in March 2016, the venue began formulating a plan to entice F1 back.
Liberty Media is keen to retain European heartland races on the calendar, with the French Grand Prix returning this year for the first time since 2008. Meanwhile, the German Grand Prix is back after a one-year hiatus, with Hockenheim playing host. Markfort is keen for F1 to return and is believed to have met with F1 chief Chase Carey at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to discuss the possibility and talks have since continued.
'We really would appreciate to have the Formula 1 back at the Nurburgring in 2019,' Markfort told Motorsport.com. 'This will only be possible if we take meaningful economic surrounding conditions into consideration. We are able to confirm that there had been conversations with the owner of the Formula 1, Liberty Media.'
The Nürburgring has hosted 40 grands prix, the first of which took place in 1951. The venue faces stiff competition to secure a place on the calendar, with F1 commercial chief Sean Bratches having said in September he had received around 40 expressions of interest from potential venues over the course of the year. It is believed Liberty's priority is to secure another race in the United States, with Las Vegas, New York or Miami its preferred options.
The Nürburgring's Nordschleife circuit was first built in 1927, and hosted its first F1 race in 1951. It always posed a formidable challenge for drivers and was a dangerous addition to the calendar. In 1976 the Nordschleife was dropped following Niki Lauda's infamous crash that nearly killed him. In 1984 the Grand Prix returned to the venue, albeit on a significantly neutered track. Financial problems aside, the Nürburgring has often made for exciting racing – particularly Johnny Herbert's 1999 win for the Stewart F1 team.