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Long live the 'ring

Chris Medland July 9, 2013
Sam Bird on track in the 'Save the Ring' liveried Russian Time car © Sutton Images
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Seven days on from the British Grand Prix, the race at the Nurburgring might have been struggling to garner the sporting public's full attention in the United Kingdom as they basked in the glories of the British and Irish Lions test series win and Andy Murray's Wimbledon victory. But early on Sunday morning, it had been a very British affair in the Eifel Mountains.

The first race of grand prix Sunday was the GP3 sprint race, and Melville McKee won from Alexander Sims, Nick Yelloly and Lewis Williamson to make it a British 1-2-3-4 as the Union Flag dominated the podium. The red, white and blue remained in the majority in the GP2 race which followed as well, with Jon Lancaster winning his second sprint race in succession as he led home James Calado to ensure a British 1-2.

Being at the circuit in time to see both races meant an early drive on Sunday morning, with almost every route in to the circuit allowing views of part of the Nordschleife. The way many parts of the undulating track appears and then disappears again through the trees makes it an almost mystical place. I was supposed to get a hot lap of the Nordschleife in a Caterham on the Friday, but unfortunately work came first and I missed the chance. However, that just served to build the mystique for me, with the snippets of 'Green Hell' that I did see teasing me that this monster of a circuit is hidden away there in the forest.

Even though the grand prix was being held on the GP circuit - which appeared to be a hit among the drivers as Lewis Hamilton said "It's a fantastic circuit, one of the classics and it hasn't lost that feel of an old classic circuit" - it still lives in the shadow of the Nordschleife. However, both are in financial trouble as they are currently tied together, with the RingPark - a leisure park adjoining the GP circuit - in huge debt.

And it's that plight that was highlighted during the GP2 race mentioned earlier. Throughout the race weekend, Russian Time ran a livery promoting the Save the Ring campaign, with the team carrying a lime green circuit map all over the cars of Sam Bird and Tom Dillmann.

At many stages last year and even throughout January it wasn't certain that there would be a German Grand Prix this season, with the financial difficulties putting an agreement with Bernie Ecclestone in doubt. But eventually a deal was done as Ecclestone said at the time: "I treasure the Nurburgring and its history. In view of its long tradition, I was glad to support choosing the Nurburgring as the venue for the Formula One."

Such is the nature of the sport, focus is already turning to the next race and the Nurburgring might have to wait another two years before it welcomes Formula One again. Hopefully it will do so under the full focus of sports fans and with a brighter future to look forward to.