Niki Lauda has said that the German people do not connect with the country's world champions.
Two of the last three champions, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel have heralded from Germany, yet the German Grand Prix faces another year off the calendar in 2017 due in part to declining popularity.
It is a stark contrast to the late 1990s and 2000s when the country hosted two races. Hockenheim played host to the German Grand Prix, while the Nurburgring hosted both the Luxembourg and European Grands Prix in the years of Michael Schumacher's dominance.
"All the great German world champions had a somewhat strange relationship with the population," he told the newsmagazine Stern.
"They are not embraced like footballers are, because somehow this human proximity, this warmth, is missing."
Lauda thinks a big reason behind this is Vettel's lack of openness in the media. The four-time world champion famously shuns media work, and is one of only two drivers (alongside Ferrari team mate Kimi Riakkonen) to not be active on any form of social media.
"What's missing is the openness," Lauda said. "But I understand and I'd do the same in his place," said Lauda.
"For me, Nico stands somewhere in between. Finding a relationship with the people is not easy."
Referring to the axing of the German Grand Prix, Rosberg himself told Bild: "I find it really sad.
"The Formula One world championship without a German Grand Prix is somehow not a real world championship."
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