The 83-year-old was absent from last Sunday’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, sparking speculation that he was avoiding the country to avoid prosecution.
But on Thursday the Rheinphalz newspaper reported that he was in talks to buy the Nürburgring. However, the report says the 83-year-old billionaire was not prepared to stage Formula 1 races there at his own risk.
He is also quoted as saying he had not made any offer to do without the track fees if the Grand Prix were staged there next year.
This conflicts with previous statements made by the current leaseholders, whose contract has been terminated. Kai Richter and Jörg Lindner told weekly paper Die Zeit that a concept was being drawn up with Ecclestone which would enable Formula 1 races to be held on the Nürburgring track without any subsidy necessary.
The state-owned Nürburgring company, which owns the track and accompanying buildings, applied for bankruptcy last Friday, after which administrators said they were looking to privatise it in the long term. A global search for investors will proceed, once the relationship with Richter and Lindner’s firm is wound up.
The bankruptcy has been considered a horrible embarrassment for regional politicians, particularly Rhineland-Palatinate state premier Kurt Beck, who originally backed the development and poured millions of euros in public money into the theme park next to the race track.
The park never took off, and the bankruptcy is now considered a disaster for the Social Democratic Party politician – particularly as he is not admitting having made any mistakes, and because he tried to hide the financial problems for a long time, the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote on Thursday.