Officials at Hockenheim have confirmed that Formula 1 will not visit the circuit this year, citing financial concerns, and restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus.
Germany’s Hockenheim circuit dropped off the original Formula 1 calendar after its contract expired at the end of 2019.
But amid the coronavirus pandemic the circuit emerged as a contender for a slot on the revised 2020 schedule, and was a potential back-up in the event that Silverstone could not hold grands prix.
When Silverstone was given the green light by the UK government to host its events – which will take place across the opening two weekends in August respectively – Hockenheim remained as an option for a race later this year.
It is believed that, given the improbability of Formula 1 heading to America in 2020, a triple-header of events in Hockenheim, Imola and Portimao were mooted for October.
But on Thursday it was confirmed that Formula 1 will not visit Hockenheim this year.
The circuit pointed to financial concerns and the continuing restrictions on large gatherings imposed by the state of Baden-Württemberg, in which Hockenheim is located.
“We have played with open cards right from the beginning of the talks,” a spokesperson for the circuit told MotorsportWeek.com.
“In other words, we have always made the point – and incidentally, we have met with the full understanding of Formula 1 – that we can only organise a Formula 1 race if it does not result in any financial disadvantages for us compared to normal track operations.
“In these times of crisis, in which we have to deal with millions of Euros of losses due to Corona, anything else is not responsible to the company, its employees and shareholders.
“On the other hand, we have also made it clear that we must of course comply with the Corona regulations of the state of Baden-Württemberg and therefore cannot seriously envisage an event with spectators at present.
“This is not uniformly regulated nationwide due to the federal system and could have been an important aspect in the decision-making process of those responsible for F1.
“Over the past few weeks we have shown ourselves to be both flexible and committed, and in the end, commitment and willingness may not have been worth it, since the basic requirements for a race in Germany are obviously so different and in some ways distort competition.
“In the end, the most important thing for us is to keep an eye on our business and do everything we can to come out of this crisis in a stable manner.”
It is understood that Formula 1’s focus in Germany has switched to the Nurburgring, which last featured on the calendar in 2013, after which financial constrains led to it nullifying its contract.
Imola and Portimao are still being lined up for October dates, with a triple-header due to take place after Russia’s standalone event on 27 September, which will be Formula 1’s first venture outside of western Europe this year.
Imola has not featured on Formula 1’s schedule since 2006 while Portimao has never held a race, with Portugal’s most recent grand prix taking place at Estoril in 1996.
Formula 1 is continuing to explore its options in Asia though recent plans to hold the rescheduled Vietnamese and Chinese grands prix on back-to-back weekends have been skewered by China’s decision to suspend all international sporting events for 2020.
The championship still expects to hold between 15 and 18 events with the final rounds taking place in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, prolonging the campaign into mid-December.
Formula 1 has already confirmed events at Silverstone (2/9 August), Barcelona (16 August), Spa-Francorchamps (30 August), Monza (6 September), Mugello (13 September) and Sochi (27 September).
Plans are going ahead for next month’s Spanish Grand Prix despite a spike in cases in Barcelona leading to new restrictions; Montmelo – where the circuit is located – lies outside of the jurisdiction covering the recent tighter guidelines.