There was a time (and it wasn't so long ago) that Formula One was so popular in Germany that racing circuits fought over who wanted to host it more. But now it seems that no one does.

Although earlier reports suggested the German Grand Prix would stay at Hockenheim this season, when asked by Britain's Sky News if the venue was locked down for the race, Bernie Ecclestone answered, "Not really."

The F1 chief said he couldn't quite wrap his head around the nature of the financial problems with the promoter: "Honestly, I don't know. It surprises me. ... Maybe it's a little bit that the German people were very used to and supported Michael [Schumacher] and miss Michael when he wasn't racing any longer." Nice theory, Bernie, but it doesn't quite hold up when you consider that a German team won the championship last season and a German driver the four years prior.

So does that mean there won't be a German Grand Prix this season? "We've got one," quipped Ecclestone. "It's called Austria." The neighboring German-speaking country was added back to the calendar last season and is set to host the race again this year at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.

The remarks (and possible outcome) aren't without precedent: though France had long been a backbone of grand prix racing, ultimately the proximity of the races in Belgium and Monaco (both neighboring, French-speaking countries) may be what's kept the French Grand Prix from returning to the championship. And without an agreement in place with either Hockenheim or the Nürburgring, German race fans could suffer a similar fate this season.

Previous seasons had seen countries like Germany and Japan alternate venues, while others like Italy and Spain hosted two races. But those days seem far behind us as F1 breaks into new markets around the world.

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