‘At least in the right team’: Ex-Mercedes boss on Mick Schumacher

Seven German drivers were on the grid in 2010, whereas in 2023 it will just be Nico Hulkenberg.

Former Mercedes boss Norbert Haug has discussed the “tragedy” that is the current state of Formula 1 in Germany, with the nation having previously been a powerhouse for the pinnacle of motorsport.

In 2023, Nico Hulkenberg will be the only German driver on the grid, a considerable difference to 2010 when the Haas driver made his debut in Formula 1, where he was one of seven Germans in F1.

It’s not just the lack of German drivers in the sport that is an issue, with no current team being based in Germany either.

Whilst Mercedes are, of course, a German manufacturer, both of their bases in Brackley and Brixworth are in the United Kingdom.

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Germany doesn’t even have a Grand Prix anymore, despite being the home nation to the legendary Hockenheim and the Nurburgring, two circuits which used to both feature on the calendar.

Formula 1 is quickly dying in the European nation, home to some of the greatest drivers of all-time.

During Michael Schumacher’s glory days there were two races in Germany every season, both of which saw over 100,000 fans travelling to the circuit to get a glimpse of the magical seven-time World Champion in action.

Even Mercedes’ recent dominance hasn’t been able to kickstart Germany’s interest in the sport or the addition of Michael’s son Mick, who finds himself on the bench this year.

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Haug believes what has happened in his nation is something that racing fans should be “ashamed” of, with no sign either of F1 returning to Germany anytime soon.

“In Germany, Formula 1 has regressed into a tragedy for which every motorsport enthusiast can only be ashamed of himself,” Haug told RND.

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

“Mercedes won four drivers’ world titles between 1998 and 2009 with its partner teams McLaren and Brawn GP with Mika Häkkinen, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, the Mercedes Silver Arrows works team became constructors’ world champions eight times in a row from 2014 to 2021, taking six world titles with Hamilton and one with Rosberg. 

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“For a dozen years at the end of the 90s and in the 2000s, there were two Formula 1 races in Germany per year, in front of packed stands and over 100,000 spectators each, and on [German TV] RTL watched by 12 million people instead of three million today. 

“In 2010 there were seven German Formula 1 drivers in one season, today there is only Nico Hulkenberg in a second-class team and Mick Schumacher a hopeful reserve driver – but at least in the right team.

“There hasn’t been a German Grand Prix for a long time.”