Ecclestone ‘in talks to buy Nürburgring’ circuit

Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone may be under investigation for corruption in Germany, but that is not stopping him making plans to buy the bankrupt Nürburgring race track and complex, it was reported Thursday.

Ecclestone 'in talks to buy Nürburgring' circuit
Photo: DPA

The 83-year-old was absent from last Sunday’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, sparking speculation that he was avoiding the country to avoid prosecution.

But on Thursday the Rheinphalz newspaper reported that he was in talks to buy the Nürburgring. However, the report says the 83-year-old billionaire was not prepared to stage Formula 1 races there at his own risk.

He is also quoted as saying he had not made any offer to do without the track fees if the Grand Prix were staged there next year.

This conflicts with previous statements made by the current leaseholders, whose contract has been terminated. Kai Richter and Jörg Lindner told weekly paper Die Zeit that a concept was being drawn up with Ecclestone which would enable Formula 1 races to be held on the Nürburgring track without any subsidy necessary.

The state-owned Nürburgring company, which owns the track and accompanying buildings, applied for bankruptcy last Friday, after which administrators said they were looking to privatise it in the long term. A global search for investors will proceed, once the relationship with Richter and Lindner’s firm is wound up.

The bankruptcy has been considered a horrible embarrassment for regional politicians, particularly Rhineland-Palatinate state premier Kurt Beck, who originally backed the development and poured millions of euros in public money into the theme park next to the race track.

The park never took off, and the bankruptcy is now considered a disaster for the Social Democratic Party politician – particularly as he is not admitting having made any mistakes, and because he tried to hide the financial problems for a long time, the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote on Thursday.

DAPD/The Local/hc

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Austrian Formula One legend Niki Lauda dies at 70

Legendary Formula One driver Niki Lauda has died at the age of 70, his family said in a statement released to Austrian media early Tuesday.

Austrian Formula One legend Niki Lauda dies at 70
Photos: AFP

“With deep sadness, we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away with his family on Monday,” the statement read.

Lauda's death comes eight months after he underwent a lung transplant.

“His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain,” added the statement.

“A role model and a benchmark for all of us, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather away from the public, and he will be missed.”

Lauda won the Formula One drivers' world championship three times, in 1975 and 1977 for Ferrari and in 1984 with McLaren.

“All at McLaren are deeply saddened to learn that our friend, colleague and 1984 Formula 1 World Champion, Niki Lauda, has passed away. Niki will forever be in our hearts and enshrined in our history. #RIPNiki,” his former team tweeted on their verified account.

Lauda had been non-executive chairman at Mercedes F1 since 2012 and he was instrumental in bringing in Lewis Hamilton to spark a run of success that has brought five consecutive world drivers' and constructors' championships.

During his driving career, Lauda suffered horrific injuries on August 1, 1976 when, having already won five races that season, his vehicle burst into flames on the Nuerburgring in Germany. 

He suffered severe burns on his face and hands, and inhaled toxic fumes which damaged his lungs.

Despite being given the last rites in hospital he made an almost miraculous recovery to race again just six weeks later still bandaged and in intense pain.