I was watching the Formula 1 practice from Germany today and made a mental note to discuss the lack of people in attendance for the day’s sessions. I was a bit taken back to be completely honest. I made a note to discuss it on our upcoming German Grand Prix review podcast but then later this afternoon I read an article over at AUTOSPORT and it seems I wasn’t the only person who noticed.
One could be forgiven for thinking that a German driver leading the championship in a German car would be the exact type of bait to get bums in seats over a jaunty weekend of good fun and frivolity at the German Grand Prix but Friday was bust. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said:
“It’s not satisfying,” explained Wolff. “If you compare Hockenheim Friday to Friday at Silverstone and Friday in Austria, it’s a different world.
“We have to understand why that is. I’m not sure whether we have an exact number for Sunday already – you know, there are lots of people probably deciding at short notice, depending on the weekend – and we have to analyse the phenomenon.
“If the weekend continues like it does now, we need to think about it.”
Not wanting to overreact on a low turnout on Friday, I considered that the German population could be knackered from several days of celebrating their World Cup victory and that maybe the incredible performance of Marcel Kittel in the Tour de France has added to their dark-beer slugging stupor. In fact, I’ve tried to come up with many reasons why they wouldn’t rush to an F1 race where their team is not just doing well but beating the competition like a rented mule. Then again, maybe that’s the problem after all.
There are two more days for the German public to show up and explain why they weren’t able to make it on Friday but if they don’t show up, it’s a huge sign for F1. The British Grand Prix was well attended as was Austria and I would suspect the USGP will have a nice attendance as well but there is little doubt that viewership is decreasing and attendance is waning according to F1 pundits. What F1 chooses to do about it could be an even more interesting story than the one playing out on track right now.