Niki Lauda: 'Champions don't connect with German people'

Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari and Nico Hulkenberg of Germany and Force India drive during the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring on July 20, 2014
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Niki Lauda links the demise of the German Grand Prix with how the public interacts with the country's champion drivers Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg.

Niki Lauda has linked the demise of the German Grand Prix with how the public interacts with the country's champion drivers Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg.

In Vienna on Wednesday, the FIA confirmed a tweaked 2017 calendar that ends the controversial clash between Baku and the Le Mans 24-hour sports car race.

Also notable was confirmation of the drop from 21 to 20 races, with Germany definitively removed from the calendar.

F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman Lauda made a link between the loss of popularity in Germany and the way the public interacts with its successful drivers.

"All the great German world champions had a somewhat strange relationship with the population," he told the newsmagazine Stern.

"They are not embraced like footballers are, because somehow this human proximity, this warmth, is missing."

Some of the reason for that, Lauda explained, is that Vettel in particular is not open enough.

"What's missing is the openness," he said.

"But I understand and I'd do the same in his place.

"For me, Nico stands somewhere in between. Finding a relationship with the people is not easy."

Referring to the demise of the 2017 German grand prix, Rosberg himself commented to Bild newspaper: "I find it really sad.

"The Formula 1 world championship without a German grand prix is somehow not a real world championship."

Meanwhile, although the asterisk alongside Brazil's date on the 2017 calendar has been removed by the FIA, authoritative reports insist that the future of the Interlagos race nonetheless remains in doubt.

Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone walks in the paddock before the first practice session at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi on November 27, 2015
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