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German GP removed from F1 calendar amid Mercedes claims

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) has confirmed the removal of the German Grand Prix from the 2015 Formula One calendar amid claims from the motor-racing series’ reigning world champions, Mercedes, that they tried to retain the race.

The FIA, Formula One’s governing body, confirmed on Friday that this season’s calendar would be reduced to 19 races through the loss of one of its most historic events. Germany appeared set to be without a F1 race this year for the first time since 1960 after Hockenheim managing director Georg Seiler said last week that the circuit had given up hope of staging the country's grand prix in the 2015 season.

The German GP has been operating on a rotation policy between Hockenheim and the Nuerburgring, the latter of which was due to stage this year’s race. However, the Nuerburgring’s ongoing financial issues removed it from the equation for 2015. In a statement issued on Friday, the FIA confirmed the new-look F1 calendar, adding that the German GP had been withdrawn as “the CRH (commercial rights-holder) and promoter did not reach agreement”.

Germany’s exit means there will now be a three-week gap between the British Grand Prix on July 5 and the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 26. The factory team of German automotive giant Mercedes stands as reigning constructors’ and drivers’ world champions. Added local interest this year would have also been generated by four-time champion Sebastian Vettel’s switch to Ferrari, where the legendary Michael Schumacher won five of his seven titles.

Responding to the confirmation of the cancellation, Mercedes said it offered financial assistance to ensure the German GP went ahead this year, but this was rejected. “The German GP is a core race on the Formula One calendar and we have a significant interest in this race taking place,” Mercedes said in a statement.

“Mercedes-Benz has participated in discussions and offered a significant contribution to support a successful German GP, at the Hockenheimring, in 2015. This offer was unfortunately not accepted.”

Under the current rotation policy, Hockenheim is due to host the 2016 German GP and it was said to be concerned at the financial implications of hosting the event for three consecutive years. Mercedes was reportedly willing to cover half of any potential losses for 2015 and to pay for a significant amount of promotion.

However, in its statement the company said the F1 calendar was a matter for the FIA, commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone and individual promoters. “In principle, we do not believe it is the job of the competing teams to provide financial support for individual events and we do not believe this is a sustainable model for the future,” Mercedes added.