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German broadcaster, RTL have announced that they will be ending their Formula One contract at end of season after three decades covering the sport.
The decision to pull their F1 contract comes as the world of TV rights continues to get more competitive, with RTL instead opting to focus on their footballing rights, bringing an special chapter of German TV history to a close in Abu Dhabi this December.
Explaining RTL’s decision to leave F1, Managing Director of RTL – Jorg Graf said: “Competition for TV rights has changed, partly overheating the market and thus leaving the quite ambitious, yet economically justifiable framework that we have set ourselves.
“We will now focus with all our strength, passion and joy on football as the number one TV sport and our recently acquired rights package.”
Head of RTL Sport, Manfred Loppe also commented on the decision, saying: “Over three decades, we have transferred Formula One with great love and passion as well as a courageous willingness to innovate and invest.
“The most wide-ranging and emotional, unforgettable moments of the premier class in racing will remain forever connected to RTL.”
This decision therefore sees RTL’s 29 year reign as Germany’s free-to-air host F1 broadcaster come to an end at end of this season, having witnessed three German drivers in Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg win 12 combined titles.
RTL however will still maintain annual live motorsport coverage because they hold the rights to the 24 Hours Nürburgring event.
Elsewhere, RTL will focus solely on their footballing rights which include extensive coverage of UEFA Europa League, plus the newly formed UEFA Europa Conference League from 2021-24 seasons.
RTL will also cover live matches involving Germany’s national male team which is up for renewal in 2022.
‘Blow for German Motorsport Audiences’
RTL’s decision will certainly come as a blow for German motorsport audiences as F1 faces the possibility of a season without a German driver for the first time since 1981, with Vettel struggling to secure a 2021 seat follwoing his announced exit from Ferrari.
Mercedes’ future in the sport is also in question as Daimler were reportedly evaluating a F1 exit earlier this year, with both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas still not contracted beyond this season yet.
With the German Grand Prix’s slow decline in the mix which saw it miss out on a spot on this season’s original race calendar, it leaves you wondering if Germany are set for a spell in the motorsport wilderness.
RTL’s departure from the broadcasting world of F1 therefore won’t ease concerns around the future of German motorsport any time soon.