Hey, guess what’s happening this week? It’s the Austrian Grand Prix, and you know what? They’re spicing things up with a sprint race!
It’s the perfect opportunity to delve into its rich history and discover more about this iconic venue.
The Origins of the Red Bull Ring
Born out of the need to replace the bumpy Zeltweg Airfield circuit, the Österreichring came to life in 1969.
This new circuit, located right across the street, took over the hosting duties from its predecessor, which featured a hairpin and a somewhat slower rectangular section.
Initially, the Österreichring was a narrow track, barely stretching 10 meters wide in all its sections. But don’t be fooled by its slender figure because this circuit was all about speed.
With sweeping elevation changes that showcased the beautiful surrounding landscape, it quickly gained a reputation for being as thrilling as a rollercoaster ride. However, many considered it a dangerous track, lacking ample run-off areas.
In 1970, the Österreichring proudly welcomed the Austrian Formula 1 Grand Prix, but it wasn’t without its challenges. Several accidents prompted the introduction of changes in 1976.
A chicane was added to tame the fastest corner of the circuit, keeping both drivers and spectators on their toes.
This altered layout remained in place until 1987 when safety concerns and financial struggles forced the Österreichring off the Formula 1 calendar.
Off-schedule and Circuit Remodeling
In the mid-1990s, the circuit experienced a major transformation when renowned circuit designer Hermann Tilke took the reins. With meticulous planning and a touch of his magic, the track underwent a complete makeover.
Its original length of 5.942 km was trimmed down to 4.326 km, and some of the faster sections were reshaped, giving birth to tighter corners that aimed to create more opportunities for overtaking.
Comparison of Österreichring and A1-Ring circuits – via wikipedia.com
With the support of telecommunications company A1, the circuit received a new moniker, embracing its sponsorship. From that moment on, it was known as the A1-Ring, marking its triumphant return to the Formula 1 calendar from 1997 to 2003.
However, fate had a twist in store, and the track once again slipped into a period of neglect and disuse.
Red Bull Buyout and Third Comeback
Just when all seemed lost, Red Bull swooped in for the rescue.
In 2008, Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz acquired the venue. After a few years of longing for its former glory, the A1-Ring began its much-anticipated rebirth.
Extensive reconstruction efforts commenced in 2008, breathing new life into the circuit with upgraded facilities and fresh asphalt. The track emerged from its slumber and reopened in 2011 to host a plethora of sporting event such as the DTM races and Formula 2 championship.
In 2014, the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix made a triumphant return to the newly christened Red Bull Ring, which has been held ever since uninterruptedly.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Red Bull Ring hosted a second race in 2020 and 2021 under the name Styrian Grand Prix.
The Red Bull Ring has not only become a beloved destination for thousands of fans from across Europe but also a stronghold for the Red Bull team itself.
Max Verstappen’s success has been nothing short of impressive, claiming four triumphant victories at this iconic circuit. It seems Red Bull’s wings are not just for show—they’re soaring to new heights at their home turf.
Red Bull Ring Amazing Facts
- Although is only the fourth shortest track on the calendar, trailing behind Monaco, Mexico, and Brazil, the Red Bull Ring holds the crown for the quickest overall lap time.
- Max Verstappen is the most successful driver at the Red Bull Ring, with 4 wins at the Austrian Grand Prix. His fans, the “Oraje Army,” are always there to cheer him on, creating an electrifying atmosphere.
- The circuit has seen two of the closest finishes in Formula 1 history. The first was in 1982 when Elio de Angelis took his maiden win just 0.050 seconds ahead of Keke Rosberg.Two decades later, Rubens Barrichello was told by Ferrari to let Michael Schumacher pass for the championship, finishing just 0.182 seconds behind.For this, Ferrari was fined $1,000,000 and even the FIA changed certain aspects of the sporting regulations.
- Along with other Formula 1 tracks such as Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Silverstone, and the Circuit of the Americas, the Red Bull Ring also hosts a MotoGP Grand Prix. It’s a playground for both four-wheeled and two-wheeled speed demons!
- Niki Lauda stands tall as the only Austrian to win the Austrian Grand Prix. In 1984, he triumphed on home soil, leaving the crowd in awe. Not only that, but he also secured 3 pole positions, proving he was lightning-fast in qualifying.
- The Red Bull Ring holds a special place in the heart of legendary track designer Hermann Tilke.It was his debut as the lead architect for a major Formula 1 circuit, and boy, did he make an impression! He set the bar high and continued to leave his mark on future tracks.
- With an elevation change of 63.5 meters per lap, the Red Bull Ring takes drivers on a rollercoaster ride. It’s second only to Spa-Francorchamps in terms of elevation changes.
- In 2020, the Red Bull Ring became the first circuit to host the first two rounds of the season, when it hosted the Austrian Grand Prix and the Styrian Grand Prix, due to changes in the calendar brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Who says you can’t have too much of a good thing?