Austrian Grand Prix (Austrian GP) – Biography Points

Austrian Grand Prix

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Austrian Grand Prix (Austrian GP)

The Austrian Grand Prix (German: Großer Preis von Österreich) is a premier motor racing event sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). Since its inception in 1964, this race has become a significant fixture on the Formula One calendar. Over the decades, it has seen periods of both absence and revival, reflecting the dynamic nature of Formula One racing.

Held at various venues in southeastern Austria, the Austrian Grand Prix has been a stage for thrilling competition and memorable moments in motorsport history. The race initially took place at the Zeltweg Air Base before moving to a permanent track near Spielberg, which has undergone several transformations over the years. Today, it is hosted at the renowned Red Bull Ring, a track that continues to challenge drivers with its unique layout and scenic backdrop.

The Grand Prix has been notable not only for the high-speed excitement it delivers but also for the evolution of its hosting tracks and the dramatic races it has featured. From its early days on the bumpy airfield circuit to the modern, sophisticated Red Bull Ring, the Austrian Grand Prix remains a beloved and essential part of the Formula One world, attracting fans and competitors from around the globe.

Spielberg, Styria, Austria

Austrian Grand Prix (Austrian GP)
1963
CountryAustria
First Held1963
Current CircuitRed Bull Ring
LocationSpielberg, Styria, Austria
Circuit Length4.318 kilometers (2.683 miles)
Number of Turns10
Elevation ChangesSignificant
Notable CornersRindt, Lauda, Remus, Schlossgold
Lap Record1:05.619 (Carlos Sainz, McLaren, 2020)
Recent Revival2014
Prominent WinnersLewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas
Laps71
Most wins (constructors)Ferrari (7)
Most wins (drivers) Max Verstappen (4)

History

The Austrian Grand Prix began its journey at the Zeltweg Air Base, hosting non-championship and championship events in the early 1960s. Australian Jack Brabham won the first non-championship event in 1963, while Italian Lorenzo Bandini took the victory in the inaugural championship race in 1964. However, due to the track’s narrow and bumpy surface, it was deemed unsafe, leading to its removal from the F1 calendar until a more suitable venue could be built.

In 1970, the Grand Prix moved to the newly constructed Österreichring in Spielberg, a track known for its fast, flowing corners set against the picturesque Styrian mountains. This period saw many memorable races, including Niki Lauda’s home victory in 1984 and a thrilling battle between Elio de Angelis and Keke Rosberg in 1982. Despite its popularity, the Österreichring faced safety concerns due to its high-speed nature, leading to its eventual closure after the 1987 race.

The track underwent significant renovations in the mid-1990s, re-emerging as the A1-Ring and later the Red Bull Ring. The Austrian Grand Prix returned to the Formula One calendar in 1997, continuing until 2003 before another hiatus. In 2014, the race made a triumphant return, solidifying its place in modern F1 racing. The Red Bull Ring, with its updated layout and facilities, continues to host the Grand Prix, maintaining its reputation for providing exciting and competitive racing.

Zeltweg Airfield Circuit

A non-championship event at Zeltweg Airfield in 1963 saw Australian Jack Brabham secure a victory. The first official championship event in 1964 was won by Italian Lorenzo Bandini in a Ferrari. However, the track was deemed too dangerous due to its narrow and bumpy surface, leading to its removal from the F1 calendar until a more suitable track could be constructed.

The event continued in 1965 as a non-championship sports car race, the Zeltweg 200 Miles, and became part of the World Sportscar Championship from 1966 to 1969 as the 1000 km Zeltweg.

Österreichring

From 1970 until 1987, the Austrian Grand Prix was held at the Österreichring, a track located near Zeltweg in the scenic Styrian mountains. This circuit was renowned for its fast, flowing nature, featuring several high-speed corners that tested the skills of the world’s best drivers. The Österreichring quickly became a favorite among competitors and fans alike, offering a combination of challenging driving conditions and breathtaking surroundings.

The early years at the Österreichring saw some dramatic races and notable victories. The 1975 race, which was designated as the European Grand Prix, was marked by the tragic death of American driver Mark Donohue during practice. Despite the somber start, the race itself was memorable for Vittorio Brambilla’s unexpected win, though he famously crashed into the guardrail after crossing the finish line due to heavy rain. In 1982, the race featured one of the closest finishes in Formula One history, with Elio de Angelis narrowly defeating Keke Rosberg by just 0.05 seconds.

Throughout its history, the Österreichring witnessed the dominance of various teams and drivers. The 1970s saw the rise of turbocharged engines, which significantly influenced race outcomes on this fast circuit. Notable drivers like Niki Lauda and Alain Prost achieved significant victories here, with Lauda winning his home Grand Prix in 1984 to the delight of local fans. Prost, on the other hand, secured multiple wins, showcasing his mastery of the track’s demanding layout.

However, increasing concerns over safety led to the Österreichring’s closure after the 1987 race. The track’s high-speed corners and the lack of protective barriers made it increasingly dangerous, especially as car speeds continued to rise. Despite these challenges, the legacy of the Österreichring lives on, remembered as one of the most exciting and picturesque circuits in Formula One history.

A1-Ring

The Österreichring underwent significant renovations in the mid-1990s, leading to its rebranding as the A1-Ring. This modernized version of the track featured a more compact and safer layout, with many of the long, sweeping corners replaced by shorter, slower turns. Renowned track designer Hermann Tilke spearheaded the redesign, ensuring that the circuit met contemporary safety standards while still providing a challenging and exciting experience for drivers. The Grand Prix returned to the Formula One calendar in 1997, with the A1-Ring hosting races until 2003. Notable events during this period included the 2002 race, which received considerable attention when Ferrari instructed Rubens Barrichello to let Michael Schumacher pass him for the win, sparking widespread controversy.

Grand Prix Turn. Wide.
Grand Prix Turn. Wide.

Red Bull Ring

In 2014, the Austrian Grand Prix was revived at the same location, now under the name Red Bull Ring, after extensive renovations by its new owners, Red Bull GmbH. The updated track retained many elements of the A1-Ring but incorporated further modern enhancements to improve safety and spectator experience. The Red Bull Ring quickly established itself as a favorite among drivers and fans, known for its blend of high-speed sections and technical corners. Since its return, the circuit has hosted numerous memorable races, with drivers like Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas securing multiple victories. The Red Bull Ring continues to be a key fixture on the Formula One calendar, combining a rich history with state-of-the-art facilities.

Winners

Repeat Winners (Drivers)

Wins Driver Years Won
4 Max Verstappen (Netherlands) 2018, 2019, 2021, 2023
3 Jo Siffert (Switzerland) 1968, 1969*, 1971
3 Alain Prost (France) 1983, 1985, 1986
2 Ronnie Peterson (Sweden) 1973, 1978
2 Alan Jones (Australia) 1977, 1979
2 Mika Häkkinen (Finland) 1998, 2000
2 Michael Schumacher (Germany) 2002, 2003
2 Nico Rosberg (Germany) 2014, 2015
2 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) 2017, 2020

Repeat Winners (Constructors)

Wins Constructor Years Won
7 Ferrari (Italy) 1964, 1965, 1970, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2022
6 McLaren (United Kingdom) 1984, 1985, 1986, 1998, 2000, 2001
6 Mercedes (Germany) 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2020, 2024
4 Lotus (United Kingdom) 1972, 1973, 1978, 1982
4 Red Bull (Austria) 2018, 2019, 2021, 2023
3 Porsche (Germany) 1966, 1968, 1969
3 Williams (United Kingdom) 1979, 1987, 1997
2 Brabham (United Kingdom) 1963, 1974
2 Renault (France) 1980, 1983

Repeat Winners (Engine Manufacturers)

WinsManufacturerYears Won
10Ford* (United States)1967, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1982
9Mercedes (Germany)**1998, 2000, 2001, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2020, 2024
7Ferrari (Italy)1964, 1965, 1970, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2022
3Porsche (Germany)1966, 1968, 1969
3TAG*** (Luxembourg)1984, 1985, 1986
3Renault (France)1980, 1983, 1997
3Honda (Japan)1987, 2019, 2021

 

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