The Red Bull Ring (formerly the Österreichring and the A1-Ring) is a motor racing circuit near Spielberg, Austria which has been used to host the Austrian Grand Prix on 31 occasions, the latest in 2019. Since opening in 1969, the circuit has undergone major layout changes in an attempt to improve safety. It was removed from the Formula One calendar in 2003 and lay dormant for several years. However, the circuit was acquired by Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz and reopened in 2011. It has since hosted rounds of the DTM and Formula 2 championships in 2011. The Austrian Grand Prix returned to the F1 calendar in 2014.
The local auto club felt that Austria belonged on the Formula One map. But after running several events at the nearby Zeltweg Airfield, including two Formula 1 races, a proper track was desperately needed. A plot of land was found about two km north, in the foothills above the airport. Making full use of the available space and terrain, a 5.9 km circuit was laid out, with only seven real corners. At no point on the track did a Formula One car have to shift below third gear, and laps speeds were comfortably above 200 km/h.
Red Bull Ring
Starting from the 2017 Austrian Grand Prix, the kink after Turn 1 was recognized as Turn 2 by the FIA, after MotoGP described it as Turn 2 during their races at Austria. And the first turn was renamed Niki Lauda Kurve as of the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix, in memory of Niki Lauda.
The original layout was 5.911 km/3.673 miles long. An irregular horseshoe, it had seven sweeping corners and three gentle kinks, making it a horsepower track but still requiring grip and stability. The pit straight was almost a full kilometer long, starting as downhill, flattening out past the pits, and then heading sharply uphill. At the end was the 45° righthander known as Hella-Licht, not quite flat out, but the fastest turn on the track. Another straight of similar length wound slowly uphill, with a flat out left kink known as Flatschach near the end. The cars had to back off for the uphill Dr. Tiroch Kurve, turning right almost 180°.
Just after the bend, the track crested at it's highest point, more than 100 meters/328 feet higher than the pits. This is on the Valvoline Gerade, the third and final long straight of the course. The track now makes a long downhill run. The fastest part of the track was at an unnamed left kink leads directly into Bosch Kurve, a fast, banked, sweeping and quite dangerous righthander of more than 180°. A short downhill straight led into a pair of comparatively slow lefthanders in a gulley, known collectively as the Texaco Schikane, and almost immediately through an unnamed and gentle uphill right. Another short straight named Raiffeisenhügel incorporates a noticeable climb at the midpoint, then downhill to the downhill and sweeping Rindt Kurve, leading onto the pit straight.
During practice for the 1975 race, Mark Donohue had a tire disintegrate heading into the Helle-Licht corner. The car hit a billboard, and debris struck a marshal, Manfred Schaller. Donohue's head struck a support post for the sign, and three days later he died of cerebral hemorrhaging. Schaller died of his injuries the same day. For 1976, Helle-Licht was slightly rebuilt, turning the sweeper into a sharper kink, adding runoff room and reducing the track length by one meter.
The data from the 1976 even showed that the slightly redesigned Helle-Licht corner had not reduced the safety risk, so for 1977 the corner was rebuilt entirely. The corner was now a right-left-right chicane, and the fastest bend in the circuit was now the slowest. Most of the drivers were not happy with the change, but the change was made largely at the instigation of Goodyear, who had lost an expensive lawsuit to Donohue's widow. The track now measured 5.941 km/3.692 miles.
After the 1987 GP, Formula One decided not to return to the Osterreichring unless major changes were made. Nelson Piquet had set a pole speed of almost 250 kph/160 mph, and the race was marred by two major accidents at the start, forcing red flags both times. The third (and successful) start was almost two hours after the scheduled time for the race, and the broadcasters were not pleased. So after the Grand Prix, the circuit was rebuilt in two locations. First, the very narrow pit strait was widened, by virtue of moving both the pit building and the main grandstands back. And a series of serious accidents at the Bosch Kurve, which had almost no runoff room, triggered a re-think. The track itself was moved at the corner, reducing the radius by several meters. And the management dug into the hillside outside of the corner, creating a slower and tighter corner with runoff room. Unfortunately, Formula One would not return for 10 years, after more drastic changes were made. The track was still used for other series, and now measured 3.852 km/3.636 miles.
In 1996 the track was in need of an overhaul. With funding from A1 Telekom, the Hermann Tilke group set out to redesign the track. The last 1⁄4 of the front straight was chopped off. Instead, the track made a tight, 70° right, called Castrol Kurve. Another straight followed, one that was slightly longer than the new front straight. The center portion followed the same path as the short straight between the two left bends in the old Texaco Schikane, but now the cars were traveling in the opposite direction. At the end of the straight, after making a very slight left bend and moving sharply uphill, the new track rejoined the old about 1⁄3 along the back straight. The corner was called Remus, is a tight 135° right, and generally regarded as the best passing spot on the new layout.
At the end of the back straight is a rebuilt Bosch Kurve. What was a very wide, banked, fast and dangerous bend was now a tight and flat 135° right, with the old track forming part of the runoff. It is now called Gosset, and is another passing spot.
With the old Texaco Schikane mostly removed, a similar (but smaller) complex was built roughly 100 meters east. A pair of sweeping 120° lefts (named Berger and Lauda) with a short straight in between leads to the old unnamed 30° right kink coming over the rise behind the paddock. The downhill straight following is also unchanged, but the old Jochen Rindt Kurve has been altered. Just at the start of the old sweeper, the track instead makes a sharp and tight 70° right, followed by another very short straight, then a similar right back onto the pit straight. The configuration is much safer than the old, but also much shorter, at 4.326 km/2.688 miles.
In 2017, the track was re-measured and found to be eight meters shorter, despite a lack of changes since the previous measurement.
- Wood, Ryan (5 July 2017). "FIA amends Red Bull Ring's corner numbers". Motorsport Week. https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15176. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
- "Turn 1 in Austria renamed in honour of Niki Lauda". Formula1.com. Formula One Administration. 30 June 2019. https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.turn-1-in-austria-renamed-in-honour-of-niki-lauda.3CnJNtxF6jILY5JOKrgNpO.html. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
|V T E||Austrian Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Zeltweg Airfield (1963–1964), Red Bull Ring (1970–1987, 1997-2003, 2014-present)|
|Races||1964 • 1965–1969 • 1970 • 1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988–1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004–2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 • 2021|
|Red Bull Ring was previously called Österreichring and A1-Ring.|
|V T E||Styrian Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Red Bull Ring (2020–present)|
|Races||2020 • 2021|
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