Hockenheim thriller puts Liberty in a corner over German GP future

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Formula 1 is still getting its breath back after what some are calling one of the greatest races of all time at the German Grand Prix on Sunday.

Once again the suggestion that to spice up the sport you 'just add water' rang true as rain led to four Safety Cars and two Virtual Safety Car's in an action-packed race at Hockenheim.

After leading the way early on, Mercedes' race also unravelled with Lewis Hamilton producing rare mistakes en route to a fortunate ninth and Valtteri Bottas crashing out while struggling to pass Lance Stroll's Racing Point.

That paved the way for Max Verstappen to produce another masterful drive for the win, with Sebastian Vettel putting the demons of 2018 firmly to sleep after coming back from 20th on the grid to second.

Another equally rare occurrence in recent years also took place with Daniil Kvyat scoring just the third podium for a midfield team since the start of 2017 and the first away from Baku since Valtteri Bottas for Williams in Canada in 2016.

With such an unpredictable and exciting race then, it was almost forgotten that Sunday's race could be the last at Hockenheim for the foreseeable future.

Only a one-off title sponsor deal with Mercedes meant the German GP remained on the calendar for 2019, and bosses at the historic circuit have indicated as of right now, no race will take place in 2020.

That means the ball is firmly in the court of F1 owners Liberty Media to decide if they really want to let one of the sport's most valuable races fall off the calendar.

CEO Chase Carey has long insisted the historic pillars of F1 will be protected and has also maintained the emphasis is on the value of each Grand Prix, not simply the amount they are prepared to pay.

We have seen that approach secure new deals for the British and Italian GP's, although the latter is still to be confirmed, and Sebastian Vettel believes Germany should get the same privilege.

"I hope that we don't lose this race," he said. "I think not only for me and Nico [Hulkenberg] as German drivers, I think for the German crowd that we saw is very passionate, a lot of people turning up.

"It was sold out despite the weather. I think we had a great race and it would be a shame to lose it."

It is true that for a few years, Hockenheim was struggling to shift tickets for the race, but that has changed mostly thanks to Max Verstappen and his 'Orange Army' from Holland.

And while the sport is returning to Zandvoort for 2020, demand for tickets has far outnumbered supply meaning races like Belgium, Austria and Germany will still see plenty of Dutch fans filling the grandstands.

Then there's the small matter of Mick Schumacher making his way up the motorsport ladder.

While the moment of him joining the F1 grid could be a few years away yet, interest will skyrocket once again when it does and that should make keeping the German race a priority.

Currently, Hockenheim is one of three races believed to be in talks for the final spot on next year's schedule, as Spain and Mexico also find themselves facing an uncertain future.

But even if it is lost for one year, in 2021, it is expected the calendar will expand from its current figure of 21 races meaning there is absolutely no excuse not to have a German Grand Prix.

That's because, as Vettel concluded: "It would be a shame to lose those races and instead go to a place where they pay millions but nobody is sitting in the grandstand.

"For us, it's dull as drivers, so I think we rather enjoy here."

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