Skip to content

F1’s return to Austria bucks the trend of global expansion

Jun 14, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

AUTO-PRIX-AUSTRIA-FILES Getty Images

For the first time in over ten years, Austria will play host to a Formula 1 grand prix next weekend as the Red Bull Ring gets set to welcome the sport back to Europe after a weekend away in Canada.

The Austrian Grand Prix has enjoyed a sporadic history within F1. Next weekend’s race will be the 28th running of the event, having first been held in 1963 at Zeltweg Airfield. It moved to the Osterreichring in 1970, and remained on the calendar until 1987. The race returned at the same circuit in 1997, now called the A1 Ring, but was cancelled once again for 2004.

The A1 Ring had become run down and fallen into disrepair, and stopped hosting motorsport altogether in 2004. Four years later, though, a buyer was found in the form of Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz. As part of the brand’s penchant for not only F1 but also other forms of motor racing, to have its own circuit was a big coup.

Renamed the Red Bull Ring, it welcomed a number of top racing series including Formula 2 and the DTM (German touring car championship). However, F1 coming back to Austria was rarely considered by those outside of Red Bull, making the announcement last July something of a surprise.

The surprise wasn’t that a new grand prix was being held, but instead that it was a European race. F1’s expansion has focused on taking the sport to the four corners of the globe, primarily away from Europe.

In recent years, the new arrivals in F1 have mainly been in Asia. Bahrain, China, Abu Dhabi, Korea, India and Singapore have all joined the fray since Austria’s last grand prix. It is a very different sport to the one we had in 2003.

Of course, under normal circumstances, the Austrian Grand Prix would not be returning this year. Ordinarily, races are brokered in two ways: via private investment, or through government backing. Very few of the new races have been a true success. Korea and India both dropped off the calendar for 2014, while Bahrain has struggled with attendances and civil unrest. However, Singapore has been a huge hit and a tourist hub, with the government happy to pick up the bill.

Austria’s return has been brokered by the track owner: Red Bull. Dietrich Mateschitz has seen all of this success on track for his team, but is yet to see them race at a home grand prix. Much like the team, this is a project that he has the money to make happen. F1 is happy, he’s happy, the fans are happy.

There has been a lot of talk about Formula 1 returning to Magny-Cours in France in the next few years, but without significant investment, it is unlikely to happen. There is more money to be made further afield.

It will be interesting to see just how long the Austrian Grand Prix remains on the calendar, but so long as Red Bull can assure Mr. Ecclestone that a race will go ahead and they will pay up, it could yet become a mainstay in the sport once again.

Latest Posts
  1. Marcos Ambrose looks to salvage lost season in V8 Supercars, has had no issues ‘moving on’ from NASCAR

    Jul 28, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT

    marcos ambrose 2015 Getty Images

    Even though it has been pretty much of a lost season for him in Australia’s V8 Supercars series, Marcos Ambrose believes he can still find some success before the racing year is over.

  2. Fast Facts: Honda Indy 200

    Jul 28, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio - Day 3 Getty Images

    Fast facts heading into this weekend’s Honda Indy 200, courtesy of IndyCar PR staff.

  3. NHRA: Big changes coming to Pro Stock this weekend, next season

    Jul 28, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT

    pro stock bandimere 2015 getty Getty Images

    To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the demise of NHRA’s Pro Stock class have been greatly exaggerated.

  4. Simon Pagenaud the moving man, in Penske Truck Rental truck at Brickyard (VIDEO)

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:31 PM EDT

    PagPenskeBY400 Getty Images

    Simon Pagenaud swaps firesuit for street clothes when driving the Penske Truck Rental truck, playing “mover” this weekend.

  5. Austin Cindric’s whirlwind 2015 takes him back to PWC at Mid-Ohio, now in a Lamborghini

    Jul 28, 2015, 11:38 AM EDT

    Photo: IMSA Photo: IMSA

    The latest car for Austin Cindric is a Lamborghini at Mid-Ohio this weekend.

  6. Report: Alex Zanardi keen to make Indianapolis 500 debut

    Jul 28, 2015, 11:23 AM EDT

    Indianapolis 500 Getty Images

    Zanardi still wants to race the Indy 500, if possible.

  7. Singapore announces track changes ahead of Grand Prix

    Jul 28, 2015, 11:04 AM EDT

    SingaporeTrack Getty Images

    Singapore Grand Prix circuit to adjust Turns 11 to 13.

  8. INDYCAR, IMS add Sherwin-Williams as an official partner

    Jul 28, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    Indy500start15 Getty Images

    Sherwin-Williams joins the Hulman Motorsports family as Official Paint and Finishing Partner.

  9. Ten with Townsend: Milwaukee and Iowa debrief

    Jul 28, 2015, 9:55 AM EDT

    FullSizeRender-2

    We check in with NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell for latest “Ten with Townsend” insights, post the Iowa race and heading into Mid-Ohio.

  10. Ricciardo’s first podium in ages comes, like Bourdais’ at Toronto, with a trophy drop

    Jul 27, 2015, 4:51 PM EDT

    RIChunpodium Getty Images

    Good news, Ricciardo made the podium. Bad news, his trophy didn’t survive it.

  11. INDYCAR rescinds minor penalty against Jakes issued at Iowa

    Jul 27, 2015, 4:09 PM EDT

    JakesIowa Getty Images

    Jakes kept his visor down after all on a pit stop in Iowa.

  12. Gabby Chaves’ Honda/HPD Midget adventure (VIDEO)

    Jul 27, 2015, 3:13 PM EDT

    GabbyHeadshot Getty Images

    A quick look back at Chaves’ short track debut.

  13. Fiancee battle: Graham Rahal vs. Courtney Force in a Sonoma skills challenge (VIDEO)

    Jul 27, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    GRcf Getty Images

    Rahal and Force compete against each other in a series of fun challenges at Sonoma.

  14. For Dixon, it’s likely Mid-Ohio or bust in terms of 2015 IndyCar title hopes

    Jul 27, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio - Day 3 Getty Images

    If another Dixon Mid-Ohio win happens, it will save his championship chances.

  15. After blowing his chance to cut the gap to Hamilton, Rosberg must now avoid the mistakes of last summer

    Jul 27, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's German driver Nico Rosberg walks down the pits during the third practice session at the Hungaroring circuit near Budapest on July 25, 2015, ahead of the  Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Luke Smith considers the fall-out of a dramatic Hungarian Grand Prix that saw both Mercedes drivers miss an opportunity to seize control of the drivers’ championship.

  16. Booth proud of Manor for honoring Bianchi in Hungary

    Jul 27, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Manor Marussia F1 team driver Great Britain's Will Stevens has "#JB17" written on his car in tribute to late French Formula One driver Jules Bianchi who died nine months after his crash in the Japan Grand Prix, as he competes during the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix at the Hungaroring circuit  near Budapest on July 26, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Manor makes it through a difficult weekend by getting both of its cars to the finish in Hungary.

  17. Race Recap: Vettel draws level with Senna on all-time win list with victory in Hungary

    Jul 27, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 26:  Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari celebrates with the trophy after winning the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 26, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Vettel storms to his 41st career victory in Hungary as both Mercedes drivers hit trouble.