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. Mexican drivers delighted with return of home grand prix

    Jul 25, 2014, 7:00 AM EDT

    Hungary F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez delighted by the news, calling it a “dream come true”.

  2. Rossi hoping to run in most practices including Austin

    Jul 25, 2014, 6:30 AM EDT

    © Marussia F1 Team © Marussia F1 Team

    First run-out for Marussia will come at Spa; set for Austin in November.

  3. Hungarian GP highlights 30+ hours of motorsports coverage across NBC, NBCSN and CNBC this weekend

    Jul 25, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Previews Getty Images

    The final race before the summer break in F1 highlights a jam-packed weekend of motorsport across the NBC Sports Group network.

  4. Hamilton quickest in first practice for Hungarian GP

    Jul 25, 2014, 5:31 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Previews Getty Images

    Another one-two for Mercedes during first practice, with Hamilton leading Rosberg.

  5. WATCH LIVE: FP1 for the Hungarian Grand Prix

    Jul 25, 2014, 3:45 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Previews Getty Images

    The first chance for teams to get in some running at the Hungaroring comes this morning at 4am ET.

  6. NASCAR AMERICA: NASCAR returns to Indianapolis

    Jul 24, 2014, 6:09 PM EDT

    (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

    On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR AMERICA, Jeff Burton joined the crew to discuss what makes racing in the Brickyard 400 unique. Burton says NASCAR is a guest at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway due to the history IndyCar has made at the track.

  7. NASCAR AMERICA: Sam Hornish Jr. explains what it takes to win at the Brickyard

    Jul 24, 2014, 6:04 PM EDT

    (Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images) Getty Images

    On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR AMERICA and in preparation for this week’s Brickyard 400, Leigh Diffey talked with 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. on what it was like to win the third closest finish in race history. Hornish also discussed some of the keys that drivers will need to succeed at the Brickyard 400.

  8. Tony Stewart: ‘Definitely feasible’ to have Sprint Cup, Nationwide race at Eldora

    Jul 24, 2014, 5:52 PM EDT

    (Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

    After two years of huge success with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series racing at his Eldora Speedway, Tony Stewart would love to eventually see the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series come to his little half-mile track, as well.

  9. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 5 pm ET — Eldora highlights, Brickyard surprises and history

    Jul 24, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    140724-nascar-america

    On Thursday’s NASCAR AMERICA, Leigh Diffey is the in-studio host and is joined by Sam Hornish Jr. (2006 Indy 500 winner and current Nationwide Series driver and winner of the 2014 Iowa Nationwide race).

  10. Paul Menard offers ride-alongs for Make-A-Wish/Indy Racing Experience this week

    Jul 24, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Indy Racing Experience has partnered with Make-A-Wish® Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana to enhance two wishes during the Kroger Brickyard Super Weekend that takes place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway July 24-27, 2014.

  11. IndyCar: RHR earns second quarter Driver of the Year award

    Jul 24, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Ryan Hunter-Reay AP

    Ryan Hunter-Reay earns another award after his Indianapolis 500 win.

  12. Button pleased with McLaren progress; no word on 2015

    Jul 24, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Previews Getty Images

    McLaren driver no closer to deciding his future, but is happy with how things are going in recent weeks.

  13. PWC: Cindric, Bove to race for charity at Mid-Ohio

    Jul 24, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    SOWF

    Pirelli World Challenge President/CEO Scott Bove and 15-year-old rising star Austin Cindric to race a GTS Ford Mustang Boss for charity at Mid-Ohio weekend.

  14. Sutil feeling confident about Hungary and his F1 future

    Jul 24, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Previews Getty Images

    Sauber driver pleased with his pace in Germany, and cares little for the question marks about his future.

  15. Pirelli confirms tire allocations up to Singapore

    Jul 24, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Germany - Previews Getty Images

    Italian tire supplier confirms its selections for the Belgian, Italian and Singapore Grands Prix.

  16. Report: Deal for Marcos Ambrose’ return to Australia to race V8 Supercars for Roger Penske may be close

    Jul 24, 2014, 12:54 PM EDT

    (Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

    While it’s seemed Marcos Ambrose was a lock to return to Richard Petty Motorsports, especially with all the positive things he’s said about wanting to stay in recent weeks and months, a report Thursday has Ambrose leaving NASCAR after this season and returning to his native Australia to race V8 Supercars — potentially for a new team owned by iconic American race team owner Roger Penske.

  17. Alonso: Raikkonen having the same difficulties as me

    Jul 24, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Canadian F1 Grand Prix Getty Images

    Ferrari driver has few qualms about Kimi’s difficulties in 2014.

  18. Former Brickyard 400 winner Bobby Labonte to compete in Sunday’s race for Tommy Baldwin Racing

    Jul 24, 2014, 12:03 PM EDT

    bobby labonte Getty Images

    Former Brickyard 400 winner Bobby Labonte will be returning to race at the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway in this Sunday’s 21st running of the Brickyard.

  19. MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Hungarian GP

    Jul 24, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Previews Getty Images

    Our writing team makes its predictions for this weekend’s race at the Hungaroring.

  20. Alexander Rossi joins Marussia as reserve driver

    Jul 24, 2014, 11:35 AM EDT

    © Marussia F1 Team © Marussia F1 Team

    American youngster joins Marussia as its official reserve driver with immediate effect.