The Red Bull Ring is a motorsport race track in Spielberg, Styria, Austria.[2]

The race circuit was founded as Österreichring (translation: Austrian Circuit) and hosted the Austrian Grand Prix for 18 consecutive years, from 1970 to 1987. It was later shortened, rebuilt and renamed the A1-Ring (A Eins-Ring), and it hosted the Austrian Grand Prix again from 1997 to 2003. When Formula One outgrew the circuit, a plan was drawn up to extend the layout. Parts of the circuit, including the pits and main grandstand, were demolished, but construction work was stopped and the circuit remained unusable for several years before it was purchased by Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz and rebuilt. Renamed the Red Bull Ring the track was reopened on 15 May 2011[3] and subsequently hosted a round of the 2011 DTM season[4][5] and a round of the 2011 F2 championship. Formula One returned to the circuit in the 2014 season, and MotoGP returned to the circuit in the 2016 season. The Red Bull Ring also hosted a second F1 event named the Styrian Grand Prix in 2020 and 2021; and a second MotoGP event named the Styrian motorcycle Grand Prix in 2020 and 2021 after the COVID-19 Pandemic affected the schedules of both of those seasons.

Österreichring (1969–1995)

"At Zeltweg, down the long straight to the Bosch Kurve, the car was throwing out 1400 bhp and just kept on pushing – you felt like you were sitting on a rocket."

Gerhard Berger (speaking in 2007) on the turbocharged Benetton-BMW he drove in F1 in the 1986 season.[6]

Österreichring track layout from 1977 to 1995, with Hella-Licht chicane. The corner lined in gray, "Voest-Hügel", was used on the circuit's original configuration from 1969 to 1976.

Originally built in 1969 to replace the bland and bumpy Zeltweg Airfield circuit located just across the street, the Österreichring track was situated in the Styrian mountains and it was a visually spectacular and scenic circuit. Although narrow at 10 metres (33 ft) in all places, the track was very fast, every corner was a fast sweeper and was taken in no lower than third gear in a five-speed gearbox and fourth in a six-speed gearbox. It had noticeable changes in elevation during the course of a lap, 65 metres from lowest to highest point. Like most fast circuits it was a hard circuit on engines but more difficult on tires, because of the speeds being so consistently high. Many considered the Österreichring to be dangerous, especially the Bosch Kurve, a 180-degree banked downhill right-hand corner with almost no run-off area which, by 1986 when turbos pushed Formula One engine power to upwards of 1,400 bhp (1,044 kW; 1,419 PS) in qualifying, saw Derek Warwick speed trapped at 344 km/h (214 mph) in his BMW powered Brabham BT55 on the run to the Bosch Kurve. There were other testing corners such as Voest-Hugel, which was a flat-out 290 kilometres per hour (180 mph) right-hander that eventually led to the 240 kilometres per hour (150 mph) Sebring-Auspuff Kurve (this corner had many names over the years, Dr. Tiroch and Glatz Kurve were others) which was an essential corner to get right because of the long straight afterwards that led to the Bosch Kurve.

Some of the track was just road with little to no protection at all, even up to the final Austrian Grand Prix there in 1987, a race that had to be restarted twice because of two progressively more serious accidents both caused by the narrow pit straight in a similar manner to the 1985 race when the race was stopped after one lap following a start line shunt that had taken out three cars including championship leader Michele Alboreto's Ferrari and local driver Gerhard Berger's Arrows-BMW. In practice for the 1987 race McLaren's Stefan Johansson narrowly avoided serious injury or worse when at over 240 kilometres per hour (150 mph) he collided with a deer that had made its way onto the track while Johansson was cresting a blind brow before the Jochen Rindt Kurve behind the pits.

Increasing speeds were also a concern at the Österreichring; during the final Grand Prix there in 1987 pole-sitter Nelson Piquet's time for the 5.942 km (3.692 mi) of 1:23.357 set an average speed record for the circuit of 256.621 kilometres per hour (159.457 mph). At the time it was second only in F1 average speed to Keke Rosberg's 258.9 kilometres per hour (160.9 mph) pole lap of the Silverstone Circuit set during the 1985 British Grand Prix. Both times were set using a turbocharged Williams-Honda.

American driver Mark Donohue died after crashing at the Vost-Hugel Kurve in 1975. In 1976, the Vost-Hugel Kurve was tightened and made into one right hander rather than two right-handers with a small section between, and in 1977 it was slowed down and became the Hella-Licht chicane, going from the fastest to the slowest corner on the track. It is also known that four-time World Champion Alain Prost often said that all tracks can be changed but that the Österreichring should remain unchanged, just adding run-off areas would be fine, which eventually did happen up until the original track's final year in 1995. The track was known for having many crashes at the start of races (especially 1.8 metres (6 ft) Formula One cars at the Austrian Grand Prix) because the start–finish straight was very narrow (about 9.1 metres (30 ft) wide), while most start–finish straights on other tracks were 18 to 24 metres (60 to 80 ft) and it did not provide enough space for cars attempting to pass others, especially cars that stalled or broke at the start. Motorcycle rider Hans-Peter Klampfer died after a collision with another rider at the Bosch Kurve (where most fatalities happened) and 29-year-old Hannes Wustinger was also killed after a crash at the Tiroch Kurve (the part that was left out of the present circuit) at a race for the Austrian Touring car championship and this sealed the decision to build a new circuit.

Triple World Champion and long time hero of the home crowd Niki Lauda is the only Austrian driver to win his home Grand Prix. He won the 1984 Austrian Grand Prix at the Österreichring driving a McLaren-TAG Porsche. Lauda went on to win his third and final championship in 1984, beating his teammate Alain Prost by the smallest margin in F1 history, only half a point. He announced his permanent retirement from driving at the circuit before the 1985 race.

A1-Ring (1996–2003)

The redesigned track layout (black), as used between 1996 and 2003

The Österreichring's safety concerns had reached a head in the mid 1990s, and in 1995 and 1996 it was totally rebuilt, at the same site, by Hermann Tilke. Its length was shortened from 5.942 km (3.692 mi) to 4.326 km (2.688 mi), and the fast sweeping corners were replaced by three tight right-handers, in order to create overtaking opportunities. Its three long straights, as well as a twisty infield section, asked for a setup compromise.

As much of the construction work was paid for by the mobile phone provider A1, the track was renamed the A1-Ring.[7] It proceeded to host seven Formula One Austrian Grands Prix between 1997 and 2003, as well as several DTM races and the Austrian motorcycle Grand Prix in 1996 and 1997.

Red Bull Ring (2011–present)

Satellite view of the Red Bull Ring in 2018
Proposed 2005 Red Bull Ring Westschleife Extension

The grandstands and pit buildings were demolished in 2004, rendering the track unusable for any motorsport category.

In late 2004 and early 2005, there were intense discussions concerning whether the owner of the circuit, Red Bull, would find another use for the site, or return motor sports to the venue. There was a circuit extension proposal using part of the old Österreichring. In January 2005, return of motor sports seemed more unlikely than ever, as Dietrich Mateschitz publicly announced that he had no intention of wasting money on a deficient circuit. Throughout 2005 however, there was speculation of the newly founded Red Bull Racing renovating the track to use it as a test venue.

In 2006, Austrian racing driver Alexander Wurz claimed he would buy the circuit and have it renovated, but the idea never came to fruition. By 2007, talks involving Red Bull, KTM, Volkswagen and Magna International for a neuer Österreichring failed, after VW pulled out.[8]

Late in 2008, Red Bull began their €70m reconstruction of the track and DTM chiefs considered a return to the circuit in 2009,[9][10] and in September 2010, it was confirmed that the circuit, now known as the Red Bull Ring, would host a round of the 2011 DTM season.[4][5] The championship has visited the circuit every year since then until 2018.

In November 2010, F2 announced that Round 6 of the 2011 F2 championship would take place at the Red Bull Ring. The circuit was reopened at a special event over the weekend of 15–16 May 2011, which included displays of various Red Bull sponsored teams including Red Bull Racing. The FIA Historic Formula One Championship was invited to provide the headline race attraction with a race on each day for Formula One cars from the 3-litre period.

In December 2012, Red Bull contacted the FIA to say the track would be available to host a round of the Formula One World Championship in 2013, after a slot became available following the postponement of the proposed New York metropolitan area Grand Prix of America,[11] and by July 2013, Red Bull announced that the Austrian Grand Prix would return as a round of the Formula One World Championship in 2014. The Austrian Grand Prix was held on 22 June 2014.

From 2014 until 2016, the track also hosted a round of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

On 11 February 2016, it was announced that MotoGP would return to the circuit in 2016 for the first time since 1997.[12]

On 30 June 2019, in honour of the late 3-time Formula One World Champion Niki Lauda, the first turn of the track was renamed the "Niki Lauda Curve".[13]

On 30 May 2020, it was reported that the Austrian government had given permission for two Formula One races to be held on 5 and 12 July 2020 respectively to kick off the 2020 Formula One season after its start had been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.[14]

On 2 June 2020, Formula One confirmed the Red Bull Ring would hold back to back races on 5 and 12 July to start the 2020 season, with the second race styled as a one-off Styrian Grand Prix. It would also hold the first four races of the 2020 FIA Formula 2 Championship and the 2020 FIA Formula 3 Championship. This made it the first European circuit to host the opening round of a Formula One season since the Circuit de Monaco did this in the 1966 season as well as the first time Austria hosted the opening race of the World Championship and therefore the first time the circuit hosted the opening round - an honour given to 13 previous venues since the inception of the World Championship in 1950.[15] The circuit also hosted back to back races of the 2020 MotoGP season on 16 and 23 August, with the second race styled as a one off Styrian Grand Prix.

In the 2021 Formula One season, the Red Bull Ring hosted two races again due to the Canadian Grand Prix being cancelled and the Turkish Grand Prix being postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first of the two was titled as the Styrian Grand Prix, with the second being called the Austrian Grand Prix. These two races a week apart from each other saw Max Verstappen winning both from pole position. Also in MotoGP, following the cancellation of the Finnish Grand Prix in May 2021, the Styrian Grand Prix was added to the calendar on the weekend of 6 to 8 August, one week before the Austrian Grand Prix. The first race saw MotoGP rookie Jorge Martín claim his and Pramac Racing's first win in the premier class, whilst the second race saw Brad Binder take a shock home win for KTM despite finishing on dry tyres in wet conditions.

Track configurations

Lap records

The official race lap records at the Red Bull Ring are listed as:

Category Time Driver Vehicle Date
Current Circuit: 4.318 km (2016–present)
Formula One 1:05.619 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren MCL35 2020 Styrian Grand Prix
GP2 1:15.534 Mitch Evans Dallara GP2/11 2016 Spielberg GP2 Series round
FIA F2 1:15.854 Nobuharu Matsushita Dallara GP2/11 2017 Spielberg Formula 2 round
Formula V8 1:17.038 Roy Nissany Dallara T12 2016 Spielberg Formula V8 round
LMP2 1:20.177[16] Oreca 07 2017 4 Hours of Red Bull Ring
GP3 1:20.275 Leonardo Pulcini Dallara GP3/16 2018 Spielberg GP3 Series round
FIA F3 1:20.968 Oscar Piastri Dallara F3 2019 2020 2nd Spielberg Formula 3 round
Euroformula Open 1:23.304[17] Jak Crawford Dallara 320 2021 Spielberg Euroformula Open round
DTM 1:23.442 Mattias Ekström Audi RS5 DTM 2016 Spielberg DTM round
MotoGP 1:23.827 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Desmosedici GP19 2019 Austrian motorcycle Grand Prix
LMP3 1:26.406[16] Mikkel Jensen Ligier JS P3 2017 4 Hours of Red Bull Ring
FREC 1:26.523[18] Frederik Vesti Tatuus F.3 T-318 2019 Spielberg FREC round
GT3 1:28.445[19] Christian Engelhart Lamborghini Huracán GT3 2017 Spielberg ADAC GT Masters round
Moto2 1:28.687 Marco Bezzecchi Kalex Moto2 2020 Styrian motorcycle Grand Prix
Formula Renault 2.0 1:28.794 Max Defourny Tatuus FR2.0/13 2016 Spielberg Formula Renault Eurocup round
LM GTE 1:29.043[16] Ferrari 488 GTE Evo 2021 4 Hours of Red Bull Ring
W Series 1:29.607[20] Jamie Chadwick Tatuus F.3 T-318 2021 2nd Spielberg W Series round
Formula 4 1:30.109 Fabio Scherer Tatuus F4-T014 2017 Spielberg ADAC Formula 4 round
Ferrari Challenge 1:30.281[21] Michelle Gatting Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo
MotoE 1:35.161 Eric Granado Energica Ego 2021 Austrian motorcycle Grand Prix
Moto3 1:36.058 Izan Guevara GasGas RC250GP 2021 Austrian motorcycle Grand Prix
TCR Touring Car 1:37.049[22] Josh Files Hyundai i30 N TCR 2019 Spielberg TCR Europe round
GT4 1:37.458[23] Mercedes-AMG GT4 2021 Spielberg ADAC GT4 Germany round
A1-Ring/Red Bull Ring: 4.326 km (1996–2016)
Formula One 1:08.337 Michael Schumacher Ferrari F2003-GA 2003 Austrian Grand Prix
GP2 1:15.757 Alex Lynn Dallara GP2/11 2015 Spielberg GP2 Series round
GP3 1:21.439 Emil Bernstorff Dallara GP3/13 2014 Spielberg GP3 Series round
F2 (2009-2012) 1:22.448[24] Mirko Bortolotti Williams JPH1 2011 Spielberg FTwo round
F3000 1:22.794[25] Tomáš Enge Lola B02/50 2002 Spielberg F3000 round
GT1 1:23.802[26] Bernd Schneider Mercedes-Benz CLK LM 1998 FIA GT A1-Ring 500km
Formula 3 1:24.874 Gustavo Menezes Dallara F312 2015 Spielberg F3 European Championship round
DTM 1:25.266 Mike Rockenfeller Audi RS5 DTM 2014 Spielberg DTM round
500cc 1:28.666 Mick Doohan Honda NSR500 (NV0X) 1997 Austrian motorcycle Grand Prix
GT2 1:30.364[27] Jamie Campbell-Walter Lister Storm GT 2001 FIA GT A1-Ring 500km
World SBK 1:30.447 Pierfrancesco Chili Ducati 916 R 1998 Spielberg World SBK round
250cc 1:32.392 Loris Capirossi Aprilia RS250 1997 Austrian motorcycle Grand Prix
Formula 4 1:33.150 David Beckmann Tatuus F4-T014 2015 Spielberg ADAC Formula 4 round
N-GT 1:35.453[27] Porsche 911 (996) GT3-RS 2001 FIA GT A1-Ring 500km
125cc 1:39.596 Valentino Rossi Aprilia RS125 1997 Austrian motorcycle Grand Prix
TCR Touring Car 1:39.764 Gianni Morbidelli Honda Civic TCR (FK2) 2015 TCR International Series Red Bull Ring round
Österreichring: 5.941 km (1977–1995)
Formula One 1:23.357 Nelson Piquet FW11B 1987 Austrian Grand Prix
Original Circuit: 5.911 km (1969–1976)
Formula One 1:34.850 Niki Lauda Ferrari 312T 1975 Austrian Grand Prix

Concerts

Date Performer Tour
11 June 1995 Bon Jovi These Days Tour
1 August 1995 The Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge Tour
15 August 2000 Bon Jovi Crush Tour
14 May 2015 AC/DC Rock or Bust World Tour
16 September 2017 The Rolling Stones No Filter Tour

References

  1. ^ "NeroGiardini Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich – Circuit information: Red Bull Ring – Spielberg" (PDF). MotoGP.com. Dorna Sports. 11 August 2016. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  2. ^ The Spielberg Project
  3. ^ Vettel, Lauda & Marko on the Red Bull Ring
  4. ^ a b Austria back on DTM schedule in '11
  5. ^ a b Der DTM-Kalender 2011 – Spannung in sechs Nationen (in German) Archived 29 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ van de Burgt, Andrew, ed. (December 2007). "Photo Finish: The Story Behind the Picture – 1986: Austrian Grand Prix". Autosport. Vol. 190 no. 12. p. 102.
  7. ^ CIRCUITS: A1 RING
  8. ^ Wenig Chance auf neue Spielberg-Partner – oesterreich.ORF.at (in German)
  9. ^ DTM considering return to Austria
  10. ^ Spielberg-Verträge sollen neu verhandelt werden (in German)
  11. ^ "Red Bull offers own track for Austrian GP return in 2013". bbc.co.uk. BBC. 9 December 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  12. ^ "2016 MotoGP™ Calendar confirmed". MotoGP.com. Dorna Sports. 11 February 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  13. ^ "Turn 1 in Austria renamed in honour of Niki Lauda". F1.com. Formula One Group. 30 June 2019. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  14. ^ "Austria set to host Formula 1 season openers in July". 30 May 2020. Retrieved 31 May 2020 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  15. ^ Cleeren, Flip (1 July 2020). "Which circuits hosted Formula 1's season opener?". motorsport.com. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  16. ^ a b c "European Le Mans Series 4 Hours of Red Bull Ring Race Provisional Classification by Category" (PDF). Retrieved 16 May 2021.
  17. ^ "2021 Euroformula Open Red Bull Ring Session Facts". Retrieved 12 September 2021.
  18. ^ "Red Bull Ring Formula Regional European Championship Race - 1 Provisional Results" (PDF). Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  19. ^ "ADAC GT Red Bull Ring 2017". Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  20. ^ "2021 W Series Spielberg 2 Session Facts". Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  21. ^ "2021 Trofeo Pirelli Spielberg Race 1 Final Classification" (PDF). Retrieved 24 July 2021.
  22. ^ "2019 Red Bull Ring". Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  23. ^ "ADAC GT4 Germany Red Bull Ring 2021 Race 2" (PDF). Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  24. ^ "2011 F2 Round 12 Results". Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  25. ^ "2002 F3000 International Championship A1-Ring Session Facts". Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  26. ^ "FIA GT Championship A1-Ring 1998". Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  27. ^ a b "FIA GT Championship A1-Ring 2001". Retrieved 10 May 2021.

External links