F1 popularity on the rise again in Germany

HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - JULY 20: Fans pack the track as they watch the victory celebrations during the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring on July 20, 2014 in Hockenheim, Germany. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The popularity of Formula 1 might be back on the rise, after the German broadcaster RTL last weekend recorded its best TV ratings in three years.

Bild newspaper said 5.81 million Germans watched the free-to-air coverage of Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo dicing for the Monaco win.

“Formula one is offering something again,” German-language F1 pundit Christian Danner said. “The Mercedes crash, Verstappen winning a race at 18, now the spectators are rewarding tha.”

Not only that, after two consecutive years of easy dominance, Mercedes is being pushed harder by Red Bull and Ferrari in 2016, resulting in signs of reliability weakness from the reigning world champions.

“We are pushing all the systems to the limit,” confirmed team boss Toto Wolff.

“As frustrating as it is for us to have repeated problems, it is good for formula one that the competition is pushing us harder now,” he added.

Another German-language pundit, Marc Surer, agreed: “The audience recognises that Mercedes now has some competition.”

It is also good news for German grand prix promoter Georg Seiler, whose Hockenheim race has suffered in recent years with dwindling audiences.

“May the chaos at the top continue,” he declared. “Now we need a win for Sebastian Vettel and we can look forward to a mega-exciting race in July.”