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GP Week : Issue 163
19 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: I managed to get quite lost at Hockenheim when I went in search of the old track and ended up waist- deep in brambles. Most of the old Hockenheimring has been totally reclaimed by nature. Only parts of those epically long straights and once action-packed chicanes can be made out in the expanse of trees, grass and foliage. When the new circuit came online in 2002 the decision was taken to dig the old track up and restore the natural habitat. Only the third straight, between Turns 8 and 9, remains before the new circuit starts, at the hairpin. Had the drone of V8s sounding from the new circuit and the compass on my iPhone not signaled my approximate whereabouts it’s quite possible I’d never have been seen again. Germany does good forests. I’m sure the green campaigners agree, which is why they supported the reclamation. Personally, though, I think it’s a real shame that this historic circuit, which stretches back to the 1930s, when it was used as a test track for Mercedes’ silver arrows (the proper ones, not the Brackley-built ones), has barely left a trace. I get angry about Brooklands too, which has been left to crumble. Were we in America they’d have turned both into national monuments. So now you have to fear for the Nurburgring, which has been raped and left for dead by dodgy developers and politicians. The German Grand Prix is supposed to alternate between Hockenheim and the Nurburgring, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely we’ll be back at the latter next year. My gang has discovered a rather nice hotel near to Hockenheim so despite the fact there’s no race scheduled we’re looking to book for next year anyway, so as to hedge our bets. This week is traditionally the time that the following year’s provisional calendar is released. On the basis of this, all the teams and media scramble onto booking.com and try to hoover up the deals before the hotels catch on that F1’s coming to town. Sadly, though, it seems one or two towns have been tipped off. I can tell you that a weekend in Melbourne around March 17 is painfully expensive. By the way, has anyone got a granny annexe they can rent me? It’s tough enough for freelancers to fork out for a year ’s F1 travel without the hotels getting the calendar confirmed to them before we do. Thanks for nothing, Ron Walker. If you want any international journalists turning up to cover your event and promote your state I suggest you turn your back lawn into a campsite for us, because we’ve been priced out of the city. The eco-warriors are already upset with Albert Park hosting its annual motorsport extravaganza, which is always touted as attracting millions of tourism dollars to Victoria. If the greens had their way the place would look like the old Hockenheimring. And nice though that may look, the birdlife isn’t going to sell many hotel rooms is it? Australia is expensive enough for European travelers without a premium for the race. If there are no rooms available for budget travelers, the numbers will drop and so will the race’s place on the calendar. The environmental lobby and the wildlife will love that, I’m sure. The hoteliers will not. So here’s an idea: cut the rates and keep the race. THE TIPPING POINT OPINION OPINION ADAM HAY-NICHOLLS F1 Editor