Ex-Mercedes chief says Haas is ‘at best a second-rate team’

Nico Hulkenberg will be the only German driver on the grid in 2022 after the retirement of Sebastian Vettel.

Germany have always had a major influence in sport, be that motorsport or the likes of football where a multitude of trophies have headed to the country.

In recent years the influence of Formula 1 in Germany appears to have decreased, with the number of German drivers on the grid and races on the calendar slowly decreasing.

Fans have been calling for a return to the Nurburgring or Hockenheim in recent years, and even though F1 is currently seeking a replacement for the cancelled Chinese Grand Prix, it seems unlikely that the sport will return to Germany anytime soon.

Netflix’s ‘Drive to Survive’ has massively increased the global audience of Formula 1, while the change of ownership to American based Liberty Media has seen the power of the sport shift away from Europe.

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Former Mercedes vice-president Norbert Haug has called Formula 1 in Germany a tragedy, suggesting that the sport is fading in the country,

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

“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 in the Silver Arrow.

“In 2021 there were still seven German Formula 1 drivers in one season. Today Nico Hulkenberg is the only 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.

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“For a dozen year, in the late 1990’s and 2000’s there were two Formula 1 races a year in Germany. On RTL, twelve million interested people watched instead of three million today. There hasn’t been a German Grand Prix for a long time.”

Mick Schumacher will be remaining in Formula 1 following his departure from Haas, as he takes up a role as reserve driver with Mercedes as he waits for an opportunity to return to the grid in the future.

With F1 becoming a more global sport year after year, nationalities of drivers are becoming more varied, with Asian, South American, North American and European drivers all part of the 2023 gird.