Red Bull Ring

Red Bull Ring
Circuit Red Bull Ring.svg
Location Spielberg, Styria, Austria
Time zone GMT +1
Major events Austrian Grand Prix, DTM
A1-Ring (1996-2004)
Red Bull Ring (2011 onwards)
Length 4.326 km (2.688 mi)
Turns 10
Lap record 1:08.337 (Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F2003-GA, 2003)
Österreichring
(with Hella Licht chicane) (1977-1995)
Length 5.941 km (3.692 mi)
Turns 18
Lap record 1:23.357 (Nelson Piquet, Williams FW11B, 1987)
Österreichring
(original circuit) (1969-1976)
Length 5.911 km (3.673 mi)
Turns 16
Lap record 1:34.850 (Niki Lauda, Ferrari 312T, 1975)

The Red Bull Ring is an Austrian race circuit in Spielberg, Styria.[1]

The race circuit was founded as Österreichring and hosted the Formula One Austrian Grand Prix for 18 consecutive years, from 1970 to 1987. It was later shortened, rebuilt and renamed the A1-Ring, 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.[2] The circuit will host a round of the 2011 DTM season[3][4] and a round of the 2011 F2 championship.

The old Österreichring was more often referred to as being located at Zeltweg, which is bigger and better known. However, the circuit was never relocated, only modified.

In addition, the one-off 1964 Austrian Grand Prix was held at Zeltweg Airfield, so this name was already known.

Contents

The original track

Österreichring track layout from 1977 to 1995, with Hella-Licht chicane

Originally built in 1969 to replace the bland and bumpy Zeltweg Airfield circuit, the Österreichring track was known for being very fast, as every corner was a fast sweeper and were taken in no lower than 3rd gear in a 5-speed gearbox and 4th in a 6-speed gearbox, as well as noticeable changes in elevation during the course of a lap. Like most fast circuits it was a hard circuit on engines but more difficult on tires, because of the speeds being so consistently. Many considered the Österreichring to be dangerous, especially the "Boschkurve", a 180-degree right-hand corner with almost no run-off area. 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 2 progressively more serious accidents both caused by the narrow pit straight. Tragically, 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 2 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-times 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 6-foot-wide [1.8 m] Formula One cars at the Austrian Grand Prix) because the start finish was very narrow (about 30 feet wide [9.1 m], most start finish straights on other tracks were 60 to 80 feet wide [18 to 24 m]) and it did not provide enough space for cars attempting to pass others, especially cars that stalled or broke at the start.

The A1-Ring

The redesigned track layout (black), as used between 1996 and 2004

The Österreichring's safety concerns reached a head in 1987 when that year's race needed two restarts following crashes on the starting grid. As a result, the track was abandoned by Formula One for nearly a decade. 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 cellphone provider A1, the track was renamed the A1-Ring.[5] 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.


Redevelopment

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. As of 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 deficitary circuit. The failure of the project, which was of considerable importance to the surrounding municipalities, may even have serious political repercussions, as Styrian governor Waltraud Klasnic had strongly supported the project.

In 2006, Austrian racing driver Alexander Wurz claimed he would buy the circuit and have it renovated, but the idea never came to fruition.

Throughout 2005, there was speculation of Red Bull Racing renovating the track to use it as a test venue.

In 2007, talks involving Red Bull, KTM, VW and Magna International for a neuer Österreichring failed, after VW pulled out.[6]

In July 2008, DTM chiefs decided not to include Österreichring on the 2009 Calendar - but plans for the revival of the track continued.[7]

Late in 2008, Red Bull began their €70m reconstruction of the track and DTM chiefs considered a return to the circuit in 2009.[8][9]

In October 2008, the track owner Dietrich Mateschitz ruled out any chance of the track hosting a MotoGP or Formula One Grand Prix in the future, and said it would only be used for DTM events.

In September 2010, it was confirmed that the circuit would host a round of the 2011 DTM season,[10][4] now known as the Red Bull Ring.

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 May 15 & 16 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.

References

External links

Coordinates: 47°13′11″N 14°45′53″E / 47.21972°N 14.76472°E / 47.21972; 14.76472


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