The Red Bull Ring is a motorsport circuit in Spielberg, Austria. The race circuit was founded as Österreichring and hosted the Formula One Austrian Grand Prix for 18 consecutive years, from 1970to 1987. It was later shortened, rebuilt and renamed the A1-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 and subsequently hosted a round of the 2011 DTM season and a round of the 2011 F2 championship. Formula One returned to the circuit in the 2014 season.
Originally built in 1969 to replace the bland and bumpy Zeltweg Airfield circuit, the Österreichring track was situated in the Styrian mountains and it was a spectacular, scenic and unique circuit. The track was very fast, every corner was a fast sweeper and was taken in no lower than 3rd gear in a 5-speed gearbox and 4th in a 6-speed gearbox and the track 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 downhill right-hand corner with almost no run-off area.
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 It proceeded to host seven Formula One Austrian Grands Prix between 1997 and 2003, as well as several DTM races and Austrian motorcycle races in 1996 and 1997.
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.
Late in 2008, Red Bull began their €70m reconstruction of the track and DTM chiefs considered a return to the circuit in 2009 and in September 2010, it was confirmed that the circuit would host a round of the 2011 DTM season, now known as the Red Bull Ring. The championship has visited the circuit every year since then.
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, 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.
© GAVRA Racing 2018.