Austrian Grand Prix Preview

The hills of southern Austria are the setting for this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, held for the first time since 2003.  [Photo courtesy of]
One of the newest races of the 2014 Formula One World Championship takes place this weekend on a circuit that has not been run since 2003. The new Red Bull Ring is located in the high altitude Styrian Mountains near the city of Graz, in the southern part of Austria. Over the years, the circuit has been located in the same region under different names.
The track began in the area of Zeltweg in 1964. There, the late Lorenzo Bandini, won the only grand prix victory of his career. The track was very small and by the end of that decade, the track was moved down into a very wide valley which suddenly became the Ostereichring, which was a circuit that sometimes could become a conflict between the fast cars and the wild animals around it. The race lasted many years, and was only just under two miles a lap and around 71 laps per race weekend. John Watson won his first grand prix race there in 1976, for the American Penske Racing Team. Unfortunately, this was also the race that claimed the life of Indy Car Champion Mark Donohue, who was racing for the same team. Watson’s victory was the only one for Penske during it’s time in formula one.
The track was later not taken care of much and was deleted from the race calendar, only to reappear later on as the new A-1 ring, which became a little narrower and built farther up the valley. The final event was run in 2003, when Michael Schumacher swept the race, fastest lap and pole position all in the same weekend. But it can also be the race a year before, when Rubens Barrichello was forced to pull aside to let Schumacher through to win the race. It got such a bad review that even the track could not get any more backing, despite the seven time world champion won the race a year afterwards.
So with plenty of backing from Red Bull and Dietrich Mateschitz, the circuit has been renamed the Red Bull Ring, although the track is pretty much the same as the A-1 ring was years before. But certainly with a race weekend that is coming up, it might see things differently from a track that has plenty of history to back it up.


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