Former Mercedes executive: F1 is a shameful tragedy in Germany today

Norbert Haug had a rich history with Mercedes overseeing a successful return to Formula 1 with McLaren before helping the German behemoths launch their works team in 2010. Serving as the brand’s vice president for motorsport, Haug oversaw the 1998 and 1999 successes of Mika Hakkinen before helping Lewis Hamilton claim the first of his seven world titles and finally seeing Jenson Button claim his sole title with Brawn GP, the team that would eventually become Mercedes.

The German was also a passive observer of the craze generated by Michael Schumacher‘s success in Germany, though there would be a steep decline in the interest in Formula 1 following the German’s retirement despite the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg claiming five world championships between them during the 2010s.

Haug, who started his motorsport career as a journalist, has blasted the state of affairs in Germany, stating that those heading the ADAC (the German federation for motorsport) should be held accountable.

“In Germany, Formula 1 has turned into a tragedy that every motorsport enthusiast can only be ashamed of,” Haug told Germany’s RND.

“Between 1994 and 2016, there were German world champions like an assembly line, seven titles from Michael Schumacher, four in a row from Sebastian Vettel, and finally the last one to date from Nico Rosberg in 2016.

“Mercedes, with its partner teams McLaren and Brawn GP with Mika Hakkinen, Lewis Hamilton, and Jenson Button, won four Drivers’ World Championships between 1998 and 2009, the Mercedes factory team was Constructors’ World Champion eight times in a row from 2014 to 2021, winning six World titles with Hamilton and one with Rosberg.

“For a dozen years, in the late 1990s and 2000s, there were two Formula 1 races a year in Germany, in front of full ranks and over 100,000 spectators. On RTL, 12 million people watched, instead of three million today.

“In 2010, there were still seven German Formula 1 drivers in one season, Today, Nico Hulkenberg still has one in what is, at best, a second-rate team, and Mick Schumacher is a promising substitute driver – but at least in the right team. There hasn’t been a German Grand Prix for a long time.”

Mercedes is Germany’s only success story

Despite his stinging criticism, Haug was still full of praise for the Mercedes team, though his compliment was a backhanded one with another dig aimed at the German federation.

“A zealous green auto objector could not have developed a less ambitious and less successful German Formula 1 strategy,” Haug continued.

“This specifically excludes the Mercedes works team, which – correctly – operates out of England and has two great English drivers.”

Haug blames “car haters”

The former Mercedes executive also insisted that the powers that be should come together to form a plan for the future and not be swayed by the whims of those he dubs “car haters.”

“Mercedes, the ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club), the AvD (Automobilclub von Deutschland), German sponsors, and all so-called stakeholders should spit in their hands, work with young people and work together to ensure that the car nation Germany does not finally fall prey to car haters who disregard the fact that the country’s prosperity was largely generated thanks to the automobile and its export successes and that it continues to be generated despite all the attempts by those who reject automobiles to torpedo it,” Haug concluded.