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Climate change impact has hurt F1’s image in Germany, says Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg thinks negativity surrounding the road car industry’s contribution to climate change is a factor in Germany’s decline in interest for Formula 1. 

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team

Despite F1 enjoying a rise in popularity around the world, triggered by its expansion on social media and Netflix's Drive to Survive series, not all countries have gone through the same thing. 

One place where F1’s popularity has stalled is Germany. The nation has not hosted an F1 race since the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in 2020, and its most iconic world champion racers – Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg – no longer compete. 

Matters have also not been helped by the transition away from free-to-air television and to Pay TV, which has put a further cap on potential viewership. 

Haas driver Hulkenberg, who is Germany’s only F1 driver after Vettel retired at the end of last year, thinks there are a host of factors behind why grand prix racing is struggling in Germany to maintain audiences – which include environmental concerns. 

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“Germany was always spoiled in racing with Michael, then with Sebastian and Rosberg," said Hulkenberg. "Plus, with Mercedes, we've always had a very strong presence in F1 for at least the last 30 years or so.  

“I think also sometimes the sport is more popular and has higher demand, and then naturally, probably, it tails off sometimes.  

“But then also, I think, in Germany, the perception of in general the car automotive industry is it's like responsible for climate change and is not sustainable. And I think that rubs off onto motorsport.  

F1 no longers races in Germany

F1 no longers races in Germany

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

“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 German interest not being super high right now, the imminent arrival of Audi’s works team in 2026 could serve to stir up excitement there in F1. 

Furthermore, F1 owners Liberty Media have also been considering plans to get the German GP back on the calendar – perhaps with the event being one of those that rotates with other venues. 

Speaking in 2022 about the potential for a German GP return, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said: “We really hope that Germany can be back around the table. 

“But one thing is to say is 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. 

“So hopefully soon – with something that could happen soon – they will have a different situation to discuss with us.” 

Hulkenberg said that the presence of a German GP would have little impact on his career, and is not anticipating it happening any time soon.

“I wouldn't be against it, of course, but it wouldn't make a difference for me,” he said.

“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.”

Additional reporting by Filip Cleeren 

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