The Austrian Grand Prix is set to return to Formula 1 for the first time in ten years next year after the current Constructors’ Drivers Champions, Red Bull, struck a deal allowing Formula 1 to return to Austria. The energy drinks company have managed to get the Austrian Grand Prix back into Formula 1 using the same racing track, but with a different name. The last Austrian Grand Prix was held in 2003 when Michael Schumacher won it and it was being raced on the A1 Ring, but now the name has been changed to the Red Bull Ring.
The Austrian Grand Prix first made its way into Formula 1 in 1963 when the racecourse was Zeltweg Airfield; this track hosted only 2 Grand Prix’s. After the 1964 Austrian Grand Prix, it was banished from Formula 1 for being too bumpy, narrow and having poor viewing areas for the spectators and would only be allowed back in when a suitable track was built. In 1970 the Österreichring (translated to Austrian circuit) was opened and then used as the track for 17 years happily hosting many Austrian Grand Prix’s, until 1987.
In 1987, the Österreichring was also deemed too dangerous after the final Austrian Grand Prix in 1987 had to be restarted twice due to having 2 terrible crashes. The FIA decided to halt this Grand Prix again due to narrow lanes, the high-speed corners and the lack of protection from trees. It was another 10 years until the Austrian Grand Prix returned to Formula 1, but this time to the A1 ring, which was just the Österreichring refurbished. The track was made wider and much safer, but in 2003 it was abandoned once again due to negative publicity from the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix.
Now, the Austrian Grand Prix has been brought back into Formula 1 once again and the races will be held at the Red Bull Ring, a changed name from the A1 ring, but originally the Österreichring. Red Bull have brought it back whilst they are dominating the sport thanks to drivers Mark Webber and 3-time consecutive World Driver champion, Sebastian Vettel. Red Bull have completely dominated most of the Grand Prix’s over the last 3 years and they hope to continue their dominance through the foreseeable future.
With New Jersey and Russia apparently having Grand Prix’s in the calendar next year, this news about the Austrian Grand Prix has come as a shock. This year there are 19 Grand Prix is the year, but there could be many more next year, which may prove to be too many for a single season. It was said that 20 races a year was a sensible limit, but if there are any more Grand Prix’s added then the limit may be reached. The official statement Red Bull released was, “(Owner) Dietrich Mateschitz and Bernie Ecclestone reached an agreement that F1 will return to (the province of) Styria next year.”
Author Daniel Foster
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