The future of the famous Nürburgring precinct in Germany is uncertain, with a much-needed government bailout being refused this week.
A €13 million (AU$15.5 million) German government grant was disallowed by the European Commission, deeming the grant 'illegal state aid' for Nürburgring GmbH, who currently manages the precinct’s operations.
Nürburgring GmbH is a publicly-owned holdings company formed after the contract with previous operator, the privately-owned Nürburgring Automotive GmbH (NAG), was terminated earlier this year.
During its tenure, NAG is said to have accrued €330 million (AU$394 million) in debt as part of an ambitious redevelopment of the circuit, which included a hotel, shopping mall, event arena, go-kart track - even a roller coaster.
The redevelopment has proven a commercial failure however, and the European Commission is also investigating a suspected €524 million (AU$625 million) in unauthorised aid under NAG management.
The track itself remains publicly-owned, giving confidence that the circuit will not disappear altogether.
German newspaper Rhein-Zeitung suggests that Nürburgring events already planned for the rest of the year remain secure, although the 2013 schedule is less certain.
The German Formula 1 Grand Prix is currently scheduled to be held at the Nürburgring’s Grand Prix circuit in 2013 (in the current agreement which sees it alternate with the Hockenheim circuit), but this news could see the race return to Hockenheim for the second year running.
A formal announcement is yet to be made regarding the future of Nürburgring GmbH, but keep an eye on TMR for further developments.