Nurburgring could still host 2013 German Grand Prix despite insolvency

Article by Anita Panait, on November 21, 2012

The popular Nurburgring racing track in Germany could still host the German Grand Prix in July 2013 despite the uncertainty related to the track's insolvency. Thomas Schmidt, managing director of track owner Nurburgring GmbH, told Reuters that if the issue on whether there will be a Formula One race at Nuerburgring in 2013 is resolved by the end of 2012, “that would still be early enough.”

The current operator NAG, which has leased the facilities from Nuerburgring GmbH, is holding talks with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone to secure the race and keep him from awarding the German Grand Prix to Hockenheim, which alternates each year with its rival. Nuerburgring GmbH, 90-percent of which is owned by the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, collapsed into insolvency amid a leasing fee dispute with operator NAG.

The German state of Rhineland-Palatinate has sought to restructure Nurburgring GmbH through the aid of a bridge financing package, but European Union’s competition regulators in August intensified their probe into state aid. Rhineland-Palatinate is under pressure to force Nurburgring GmbH to pay after pouring millions of euros into a racing-themed amusement park there.

Nurburgring is adjacent to the famous Nordschleife circuit. The track, dubbed "the Green Hell," is quite appealing for F1 drivers and viewers alike. It was also where the 1976 fiery crash occurred, when reigning world champion Niki Lauda was almost killed.

The track is also used by carmakers like BMW and Toyota to test cars.  Amateur racers are more than willing to pay to take their sports cars on laps around the dangerous but exciting circuit. Schmidt, who now operates Nuerburgring GmbH with an insolvency administrator, said he had talks with Ecclestone in London, "but only to get to know one another."

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