F1: Bernie Ecclestone hints next year's German Grand Prix will be axed too as he warns of bleak future for historic European races

The German Grand Prix has already fallen off the 2015 calendar and may not return when Hockenheim is due to stage the race

Bernie Ecclestone has suggested next year's German Grand Prix could also fall by the wayside just days after this season's race was officially dropped from the Formula One calendar.

As per its contract, Hockenheim is scheduled to host the event in 2016, but at this early stage F1 supremo Ecclestone is uncertain whether it will go ahead.

Asked whether he could confirm it would take place, Ecclestone, speaking to a select media group in the paddock at the Malaysian Grand Prix, replied: "No."

Informed that Hockenheim has a contract for 2016 and 2018, Ecclestone added: "It doesn't make a difference. A lot of people have a contract."

 

Ecclestone intimated if Germany was unable to afford the race this year, then it will struggle to pay the hosting fee next season.

The Nurburgring was scheduled to host the race in July, but due to numerous financial difficulties behind the scenes was ultimately forced to withdraw.

Ecclestone then turned to Hockenheim to step in and fill the void, but negotiations broke down and time ran out as circuit officials believed they did not have ample time to promote and sell tickets.

"The trouble in Germany was the Nurburgring spent an awful lot of money which they borrowed," added Ecclestone.

"They didn't need to spend what they spent, and therefore didn't need to borrow the amount they borrowed.

"They forgot to pay it back, and that caused a few ripples. It sent a bad message."

Historic European races are now fast falling away with France, San Marino and now Germany losing their place on the calendar in recent times.

Italy is another that will struggle to pay its way beyond the expiry of its current contract in 2016 unless national government steps in to assist, or Ecclestone reduces his fees.

Asked whether he was prepared to see F1's European heartland wither away, Ecclestone said: "There are lots of things we all would like, but we don't have them because we can't afford them."

Suggested to Ecclestone 'if Monza goes, it goes', he said: "Whatever goes, goes."

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Ecclestone warned that if Monza goes, 'it goes'

Ecclestone did concede, however, "it would be terrible" if Europe did lose all its races, particularly as the series would no longer become a world championship.

Many people believe Ecclestone's hosting fees are too steep, which in turn prompts promoters to charge extortionate ticket prices, leading to reduced numbers through the turnstiles.

Hockenheim, for instance, saw its audience plummet from more than 100,000 in 2012 to just 60,000 in 2014, despite Sebastian Vettel being a four-time world champion at that stage and Mercedes dominating last year.

"Probably right," said Ecclestone, regarding comments about over-charging.

"But the teams get 62 per cent of whatever profit the company (CVC, who run the sport) makes, so if we make less money, the teams make less money."

PA

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