The last time the F1 circus turned up in Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix, I don't think anyone noticed we were here. Despite a World Cup-based ticket offer that gave fans the chance of up to €70 off the cost of tickets, roughly seven people (I exaggerate...) turned up to watch the weekend's track action.
The poor turnout in 2014 led to understandable hand-wringing about the future of the German Grand Prix, and questions about the future sustainability of the race given that the German fanbase didn't seem to feel the same passion for the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg that it once had for their beloved Red Baron, Michael Schumacher.
This time around, with weekend ticket sales said to be over 50,000 (the joke in the paddock today has been that they've sold 50,001...), it is impossible to miss the fact that Formula One is in town. Hockenheim is certainly well short of the 60,000 fans needed to break even, and when the first of the shuttles from the media car park arrived at the paddock gates this morning it was clear that the German circuit has gone for "Shanghai spec" grandstands, covering up large swathes of empty seats in the stadium complex with Rolex advertising.
Despite the continued lack of interest in the race, however, F1's presence is unmissable thanks to the added security that has set up camp at the Hockenheimring -- and in the nearby towns and villages -- in the wake of a month of violent attacks in Germany, some of which have been linked with Isis activity.
As a high-profile event with guaranteed global media coverage, the German Grand Prix is perceived to be a possible target for trouble-makers of any persuasion. There are concerns that the race will be subject to attempted attacks by those determined to ensure that their particular platform receives maximum exposure, similar to the concerns over attempted violence at the Euro2016 football matches held earlier this summer.
From the minute we landed in Stuttgart on Wednesday afternoon it was clear that Germany was on high alert, with a visible police presence in and around the airport and added checks at customs. Arriving in Mannheim, the city centre was a sun-soaked paradise filled with people lazing about in parks and sipping frosty beers in pavement cafes. But behind every corner lucked dozens of police cars, riot vehicles, and armoured cars. A similar police presence could be seen along the roads to Hockenheim this morning.
This focus on security -- while both vital and reassuring -- could also prove to be the final nail in the coffin for the German Grand Prix.
Since 18 July, Germany has seen four attacks on home soil. The BBC reported: "On 18 July, a teenage Afghan refugee hacked at passengers on a train in Wuerzburg with an axe and knife, wounding five. He was shot dead by police. On 22 July, a German teenager of Iranian heritage shot dead nine people in Munich before shooting himself dead. On 24 July, a 21-year-old Syrian refugee killed a woman with a machete and wounded five other people as he fled before being arrested. Later that day, a 27-year-old Syrian whose refugee application had been refused blew himself up outside a bar in Ansbach. Fifteen people were wounded."
While the attacks were not linked, and Isis has claimed responsibility only for the attack in Wuerzberg (the Ansach bomber had proclaimed allegiance to the Islamic State, although IS has not confirmed the connection), Germany currently has the feeling of a country under siege. That siege is made all the more complex by the lack of an obvious enemy.
Many of those who had been considering a last-minute trip to the race in Hockenheim this weekend will weigh up the risk of going to a high-profile event with a sizeable group of people and determine that the reward is not worth the potential risk. Large groups are now targets, and large groups at an event being broadcast globally are in greater risk due to the instant global exposure any attack would generate.
The Hockenheim promoters have been relying on late purchases to boost the audience to above the 60,000 needed to break even, something that looks increasingly unlikely in the current climate.
And it's a real (albeit understandable) shame, for since the F1 circus last visited Baden-Württemberg in 2014 a lot of work has been done -- with limited resources -- to improve the Hockenheim experience for fans, media, and team personnel alike. It is cruelly ironic that securing Hockenheim from potential threats could well be what prevents the circuit from securing its future place on the F1 calendar...