Former Mercedes vice-president in the motorsport sector, Norbert Haug regrets that Germany has turned its back on Formula 1.
Since Michael Schumacher’s first retirement at the end of 2006, interest in the leading category of motorsport has declined significantly in the country, despite the titles won by Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg. Even the success of the Mercedes F1, which crushed the start of the hybrid era, has not changed that.
A Grand Prix has not been contested in Germany since the 2019 season and it is clear that no promoter today seems interested in the idea of holding another race across the Rhine. Even the arrival of Audi, scheduled for 2026, does not seem to generate any particular interest.
“In Germany, Formula 1 has become a tragedy that every motorsport fan can only be ashamed of,” Haug told RND.
“Between 1994 and 2016, world titles came consecutively for German riders: seven for Michael Schumacher, four in a row for Sebastian Vettel, then the latest for Nico Rosberg in 2016.”
“Mercedes, with its partner teams McLaren and then Brawn GP, won with Mika Häkkinen, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, four more drivers’ titles between 1998 and 2009, while the Mercedes team won eight consecutive constructors’ titles from 2014 to 2021, with six driver’s titles for Hamilton and thus Rosberg’s.
“For a dozen years, between the late 1990s and the 2000s, two Grands Prix were contested in Germany each year with no less than 100,000 spectators present. On the RTL channel, 12 million people followed the races against three million today.”
Seven German pilots in 2010 against only one in 2023
With Sebastian Vettel’s retirement and Mick Schumacher sidelined, only Nico Hülkenberg will represent Germany on the grid next season. Here, the contrast with the past again hurts, according to Haug.
“In 2010 there were seven German drivers in Formula 1. Now Nico Hülkenberg is in what is at best a second-rate team, while Mick Schumacher has become a reserve driver, but at least he is in the right team. And there has not been a German Grand Prix for a long time.”
“A zealous green conscientious objector could not have made a less ambitious and less successful German Formula 1 strategy. This specifically excludes the factory Mercedes team, which rightly operates from England and has two great English drivers.”
Haug scolds ‘car haters’
With Audi’s arrival in 2026, Norbert Haug now hopes that Germany will realize the importance of representing the country’s automotive industry at the highest sporting level.
“Audi, we have a problem, that’s all I can say. Mercedes, ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club), AvD (Automobilclub von Deutschland), the German sponsors and all the stakeholders of the so-called parties should spit in their hands ., working with young people and working together to ensure that Germany, the car nation, does not end up falling prey to car haters who ignore the fact that the country’s prosperity has been largely generated by the car and its export successes and continues to be to be so in spite of all the attempts of those who reject it and wish to torpedo it.”