The popularity of formula one within Germany has continued to steadily decline. It emerges that the coverage by the German broadcaster ARD of Sunday's skiing-and-shooting biathlon attracted 3.95 million viewers -- 120,000 more than those who tuned in to RTL's live coverage of the 2015 season finale in Abu Dhabi.
RTL sports chief Manfred Loppe blamed the latest decline on the fact that the world championship had already been decided weeks earlier. "Of course that took the wind out of the sails," he said. "For 2016, we are hoping that Sebastian Vettel can close the gap to the two dominant Mercedes drivers so that hopefully next year the audience can experience a thrilling three-way battle."
Interestingly, Loppe also pointed the finger at F1's authorities and teams for detracting from the 'show' with their constant trackside political bickering. "I would hope that formula one concentrates mainly on the racing and not so much on the discussions that ultimately produce more problems than solutions," he insisted.
After the German team utterly dominated both in 2014 and 2015, boss Toto Wolff said he also hopes Mercedes' rivals catch up next year. "I can only hope that for the sake of formula one the others catch up," he said, "as it would clearly be better for the show. I cannot do more than that."
Even reigning triple world champion Lewis Hamilton said: "My heart beats for competition. So I do hope that the others do a good job over the winter. "That's what the fans want as well," he told Welt newspaper. "I don't know if it will be possible with the current rules, but Ferrari has already caught up a lot. I think next year will be interesting," Hamilton added.
F1 veteran David Coulthard hopes the same -- for the sake of the sport. "I cannot really think of any moments (from 2015) which will be remembered in 10 or 20 years' time," he told the Telegraph. "Formula one needs to hope for better in 2016." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing