‘Ashamed of’: Ex-Mercedes boss puts pressure on Mick Schumacher

Mick Schumacher will be hoping to get a chance to race for Mercedes in 2023 should Lewis Hamilton or George Russell be unavailable.

Former Mercedes vice-president Norbert Haug has admitted that Formula 1 has become a “tragedy” in Germany, that “every motorsport enthusiast can only be ashamed of”, with the nation having not hosted a race since 2020.

Despite not having been on the calendar for the last three years officially, the Nurburgring was used during the first year of the pandemic as a replacement race, with so many events having been cancelled due to the Coronavirus.

Formula 1’s popularity in Germany has taken a massive dive since Michael Schumacher’s initial retirement in 2006, despite the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, and Mercedes having gone on to achieve so much.

Haug has seen the “tragedy” take place through his very eyes, with him having been involved in the sport when the German GP was one of the biggest events of the season.

READ: Daniel Ricciardo reveals ‘big weakness’ compared to Lando Norris

With this in mind, Haug has hit out at Germany for somewhat turning its back on F1, with so few tuning in nowadays.

“In Germany, Formula 1 has turned into a tragedy that every motorsport enthusiast can only be ashamed of,” Haug told Germany’s RND.

“Between 1994 and 2016, there were German world champions like an assembly line, seven titles from Michael Schumacher, four in a row from Sebastian Vettel, and finally the last one to date from Nico Rosberg in 2016.

“Mercedes, with its partner teams McLaren and Brawn GP with Mika Hakkinen, Lewis Hamilton, and Jenson Button, won four Drivers’ World Championships between 1998 and 2009, the Mercedes factory team was Constructors’ World Champion eight times in a row from 2014 to 2021, winning six World titles with Hamilton and one with Rosberg.

Article continues below

“For a dozen years, in the late 1990s and 2000s, there were two Formula 1 races a year in Germany, in front of full ranks and over 100,000 spectators. On RTL, 12 million people watched, instead of three million today.”

There will be significantly fewer German drivers on the grid next season as well to make matters worse, with Nico Hulkenberg being the only one in 2023.

Given that there were seven German drivers in 2010 shows just how downhill the nation has gone in F1, with Mercedes being the exception.

“In 2010, there were still seven German Formula 1 drivers in one season,” Haug said.

“Today, Nico Hulkenberg still has one in what is, at best, a second-rate team, and Mick Schumacher is a promising substitute driver – but at least in the right team. There hasn’t been a German Grand Prix for a long time.

“A zealous green auto objector could not have developed a less ambitious and less successful German Formula 1 strategy. This specifically excludes the Mercedes works team, which – correctly – operates out of England and has two great English drivers.”

READ: ‘F1 is a zoo’: Max Verstappen to retire sooner than expected

Despite the German public having less interest in the sport, Audi’s emergence onto the grid in 2026 does mark something for the country to be excited about, with Haug wanting the country to remember how important the automotive industry is to the country’s economy.

“Audi – we have a problem, that’s all I can say,” Haug said.

“Mercedes, the ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club), the AvD (Automobilclub von Deutschland), German sponsors, and all so-called stakeholders should spit in their hands, work with young people and work together to ensure that the car nation Germany does not finally fall prey to car haters who disregard the fact that the country’s prosperity was largely generated thanks to the automobile and its export successes and that it continues to be generated despite all the attempts by those who reject automobiles to torpedo it.”