Although it is home to champions such as Jochen Rindt and Niki Lauda, Austria is finally returning to F1 racing for the first time since 2003, when Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher won the Grand Prix at the 2.7-mile Ring circuit in Speilberg.
Although the short track has few turns, it does have a lot of “elevation changes making it challenging as well as fun to drive,” noted 4-time F1 champ Sebastian Vettel who is looking forward to the race this Sunday. Vettel is only one of a handful of drivers competing in the grand Prix who have every raced there. The others include Kimi Raikkonen (who finished second to Schumacher in 2003), Fernando Alonso, Jensen Button (who finished 4th in 2003) and Felipe Massa. Nico Rosberg also drove there as an F3 competitor ten years ago.
The Red Bull track, formerly known as the Oesterreichring (Austria Ring), held its first Grand Prix in 1964, then waited 6 years before hosting another in 1970. However, the only Austrian to ever win the race was Niki Lauda who managed to come in first in 1984, despite problems with his gearbox. The track was then dropped from the F1 circuit in 1987, although it did make a second comeback in 1997, before being dropped again after 7 more runs. Red Bull eventually took the track over in 2004 and has been redeveloping it ever since. They finally worked out a deal with F1 head Bernie Ecclestone to revive the Austrian Grand Prix last year.
The race, itself, has been dominated by only 6 teams: McLaren, which won it three times in a row from 1984-1986, then again in 1998, 2000 and 2001; Ferrari which took home the victory in 1964, 1970, 1999, 2002 and 2003; Lotus which won in 1972, 1973, 1978 and 1982; Willima in 1979, 1987 and 1997; Brabham which took the honor in 1974; and Renault which won the Grand Prix there in 1980 and 1983.