Nürburgring boss wishes Vettel victory
Formula 1 returns to Germany next week. AUTO BILD spoke to the Nürburgring managing director Mirco Markfort in advance
Mirco Markfort: That is of course a blast, we are really happy about it. After the first announcements that it might come like this, it’s a great thing for us and for German motorsport fans.
The fans’ rush for the tickets is great. How surprised are you?
Of course, nothing is normal during these times. If you look at how the otherwise coveted tickets are laboriously sold in other industries, then you can see that. That’s why we were curious to see how it went. But it was as hoped.
How many tickets have been sold so far?
We are almost sold out in the second pre-sale phase. There are still a few tickets left at T4, but the rest – almost 10,000 tickets – are gone. There was constant activity on the homepage.
However, the corona numbers are increasing across Germany. So is this the right time to let fans out on the track?
Why shouldn’t it be the right time? We can offer something here that is not the case in many other areas of daily life, namely professional organization of the spectator areas under the given general conditions of distance, hygiene, and mask requirements. We have a tried and tested concept, started with the Oldtimer GP in August and have been able to gain experience since then. Our conclusion was that it worked very well right from the start and we were able to show that to the authorities. An organized event space is always better than uncontrolled gatherings of people – as seen in shopping malls and city centers. The event industry has come off too badly in the last few months. It’s a shame because not only we, but also the stadium operators know what they’re doing.
Formula 1 returns to Germany next week.
What exactly does the hygiene concept look like?
We reproduce the hygiene rules. Tickets are sold online, providing details of the people and contact details. We have assigned a dedicated parking space to each grandstand. On the way from the parking lot to the grandstand, you only meet people who are sitting in the same grandstand. Fortunately, we have the situation here that we don’t have public transport, but that all guests have to travel by car. This eliminates a major risk factor. We have formed four islands on the stands, which are at least 1.5 meters away from the other four islands to the side, back and front. So we can meet the obligation to keep a distance. In all areas except the seat there is a mask requirement from the ticket inspection. The catering is also assigned to the respective grandstands, as are the sanitary areas.
How excited are you for the race?
It’s huge, but we’re still so deeply involved in the operational preparations that we can only really enjoy it when it starts. We’ll probably have to pinch ourselves after the GP on Monday because it’s over again. We also notice the hype among ticket buyers, but also through messages that are brought to us.
Are the events economically viable at all?
Certainly you have to accommodate many organizers in these times. The 24-hour race is the best example: there was a rescue parachute where the manufacturers, the organizers and we as the location did without a lot in order to realize the event. That’s the way it is. You have to live in partnerships, especially in difficult times. The events are not as lucrative as in normal years, simply because there is not a large audience. To look at Formula 1: In a normal year we would not have had Formula 1. The pandemic played into our hands in order to get an economically viable deal with Formula 1. We brought it over the finish line. Therefore we are very happy to have the premier class here without taking any financial risk. The added value for us is simply measured by the PR activities and the marketing for the ring. It’s still the biggest motorsport series that everyone wants on their track.
Have you tasted blood for the future too?
First of all, we are concentrating on this year because a lot is being demanded of us at the moment with all the events. On the other hand, we want to deliver perfect performance, in the operational area, but also in communication, because we can deliver content like no other track – with the connection of the strong brand of the Nürburgring and the strong international traction and history of the Green Hell. I think we can offer a lot and now we have to show that we can deliver. Of course we will try to keep Formula 1 in the future, but that also depends on the general conditions in the world – whether the Corona affects itself or the economic consequences of Corona. Doors can open for us, but that’s all speculation.
It would be nice if we have an exciting race. Maybe Lewis Hamilton will also set Michael Schumacher’s record. Then Mercedes as the German manufacturer and we as the German racetrack would have been there – that would also be a great story afterwards. A victory for Sebastian Vettel would of course be fantastic, but that is a utopian wish at the moment. Maybe the Eifel weather will help make the race really exciting.