Germany has a history of staging motor racing events as far back as 1907, but as Germany was banned from hosting any international events after World War Two, the country only joined the world championship in 1951 when Nürburgring hosted the race.

After the retirement of Fangio from the sport, popularity and attendance started to wane. In order to stimulate the interest the race was moved to the high speed AVUS track in 1959, but the race resulted in numerous accidents and was seen as a disaster and the circuit never hosted F1 again.

The 1960 race did not count towards the world championship as the event was run under Formula 2 rules in anticipation of these rules being adopted the following year. The race continued to run at the Nürburgring from 1961 until 1976, with just one exception in 1970 when the race had to be run at Hockenheim. Drivers had insisted that Nürburgring must implement new safety modifications and these could not be completed in time. Nürburgring went on to host six more events until 1976 when the F1 fraternity again deemed the circuit unsafe - Niki Lauda's horrific accident cemented their resolve.

The event moved to Hockenheim in 1977 and there the event remained until 2007 - except for one visit to Nurburgring in 1985. An agreement to alternate the race between the two circuits was reached for 2007, but the only race to take place in Germany that year ran under the European Grand Prix title after a dispute over naming rights. Hockenheim hosted the race in 2008 as planned and 2009 saw the race move back to Nürburgring.

The future of the race was left in doubt when Hockenheim's owner - the city of Baden-Wurttenberg announced that they were no longer willing to host the loss-making event. The race was saved in late 2009 when the FOA agreed to share the "business risks and opportunities" of hosting the race.