Formula One great Jackie Stewart has bemoaned the downfall of the German Grand Prix and is urging the sport’s bosses not to forsake tradition for money as the number of European races on the calendar dwindles.
The German GP was erased from the 2015 schedule because of financial problems and F1 commercial head Bernie Ecclestone hasn’t guaranteed the future of the iconic Italian Grand Prix, either.
More races are heading to countries in Asia and the Middle East, where government funding can better cover the high hosting fees.
Stewart, a three-time world champion, told The Associated Press there should always be a place for the “essential” races in Germany, Italy, Britain, France and Monaco, as they helped “motorsport to become what it is today.”
“That sounds like me being a purist,” Stewart said in a telephone interview. “But you have to respect history. They should always be on the calendar — it’s terrific we have a United States Grand Prix, a Brazilian Grand Prix, one in Bahrain, and that we are going to new countries.
“But you still have to respect your heritage.”
Germany’s grand prix may have disappeared but its status as a big motorsport nation is being preserved by the presence of Mercedes atop the drivers’ and constructors’ standings last year and the start of this season.
Germany can also count on Sebastian Vettel, the winner of four consecutive world titles from 2010 to 2013, to put up a fight this season.
Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg went head to head for the title last year — Hamilton clinched his second championship on the final weekend — and are expected to do so again, despite Vettel’s unexpected victory for Ferrari at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday.
“It was very welcome,” Stewart said of Vettel’s win. “We have got such total domination, except for the last race, that it has done damage to F1, in the same way as we lost television audiences and attendance figures in the Michael Schumacher days at Ferrari.
“We do need more competition and more winners, not just, ‘Play it again Sam.’ I hope the Ferrari experience was not a one-hit wonder but there is nobody to touch Mercedes.”
If Hamilton retains his title, he will draw alongside Stewart with a British record of three.
“I won’t be upset if Lewis equals my three world championships and I’m sure he’ll win more than that,” said Stewart, who captured championships in 1969, ’71 and ’73, and won 27 from 99 races.
“There will always be somebody leading the pack and the sky is the limit (for Hamilton).”