The global popularity of Formula 1 racing has been on a significant upward trajectory, thanks largely to increased visibility on social media channels and the much-discussed Netflix series, “Drive to Survive“. However, this boost hasn’t been universal, with certain countries, including Germany, not sharing the same level of enthusiasm.
Indeed, Germany, once a bedrock of Formula 1 racing, has displayed signs of declining popularity. The country has not played host to an F1 race since the Eifel Grand Prix at Nurburgring in the year 2020. Furthermore, renowned German racers like Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg no longer participate, potentially diminishing local interest.
Additionally, the move from free-to-air television to the pay-to-watch model is likely stifling potential viewership, setting up an additional barrier for sports enthusiast.
The lone German driver in the latest F1 races, Nico Hulkenberg of the Haas team, shares his insight into the dwindling local interest. Moving on from the retirement of Vettel at the end of the preceding year, Hulkenberg pinpoints multiple causes, citing environmental issues among them.
“Germany was always spoiled in racing with Michael, then with Sebastian and Rosberg,” remarked Hulkenberg, adding that, “With Mercedes, we’ve always had a very strong presence in F1 for at least the last 30 years or so. Sometimes the sport is more popular and has higher demand, and then naturally, probably, it tails off sometimes.”
He further pointed to the changing view on the car industry, saying, “In Germany, the perception of the automotive industry is like it’s responsible for climate change and is not sustainable. And I think that rubs off onto motorsport.”
Hulkenberg suspects the negativity towards the automotive industry carries over to F1 racing. He said, “That’s why I think the perception and what politicians tell the people is that this is bad, and somehow that has a negative impact on racing in F1 too.”
Despite the current lull, the entry of Audi’s works team in the year 2026 might reignite the public’s enthusiasm towards F1. Additionally, F1 owners, Liberty Media, are considering reintroducing the German Grand Prix to the sports calendar.
In 2022, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali voiced a hopeful outlook about having Germany back in F1‘s fold saying, “We really hope that Germany can be back around the table. We’d like to have the [German] Grand Prix. The other thing is to put on the table the things that are needed to discuss about the Grand Prix.”
Hulkenberg, however, is not investing much in those plans. Regarding the potential of Germany hosting a grand prix, he said, “I wouldn’t be against it, of course, but it wouldn’t make a difference for me. I don’t expect it to happen. But I’m not behind the scenes there and I don’t know, maybe some people are trying to pull some strings.”