Austrian Grand Prix Betting

FIA officials have announced that after a decade-long hiatus, the Austria Grand Prix will once again be playing a role in the F1 World Championships with a slot scheduled in the 2014 season. The race is to be held on 22 June 2014, immediately following the Canadian Grand Prix and just ahead of Great Britain as the eighth of 29 events on FIA’s calendar. Organizers have stated, “The Austrian round will be staged at Spielberg’s Red Bull Ring, formerly known as the A1-Ring, which previously hosted the race between 1997 and 2003.”

Austria’s very first non-championship Grand Prix was also held in Spielberg, which is located in the southeastern part of the country. It took place in 1963 at the Zeltweg Airfield. The idea of converting the air strip for motor racing was inspired by the success of Great Britain in introducing Formula One racing to the Silverstone Circuit in 1950. The 3.186-kilometre Zeltweg course was L-shaped with just four turns, and the inaugural running was won by Australia’s Jack Brabham.

The success of that race led to the first official Austrian Grand Prix being held on the Zeltweg circuit in August of 1964 as the seventh leg of a ten-race season. Great Britain’s Graham Hill took the pole position but had to retire after just five laps when his BRM’s distributor failed. That opened the door for Italian Lorenzo Bandini to gain his first and only F1 victory, finishing the regulation 105 laps a full six seconds ahead of America’s Richie Ginther, while Britain’s Bob Anderson took third.

Unfortunately, the race was marred by accidents and vehicular failures. Track engineers had not accounted for the negative effects of the airfield’s severely rough surface on fine tuned Formula One machines. Only nine of the 20 cars that started the race were still in operational condition when Bandini took the checkered flag. As a result, the course had to be abandoned for future World Championship events and Austria would not host another Grand Prix until 1970, when a proper race venue could be established.

The new course was called the Österreichring, a purpose-built track located in the Styrian Mountains near Spielberg and designed to provide spectacular, scenic views. Each lap measured 5.911-kilometres, with 16 turns and notable changes in elevation. The 2nd Austrian Grand Prix was conducted in August of 1970, won by Belgium’s Jacky Ickx of Team Ferrari. Drivers praised the new circuit for its fast turns and it would serve as the home of Austrian racing for the next 17 F1 seasons.

During that period, Alain Prost claimed the most victories with three (1983, 1985 and 1986). Other stars of the circuit were two-time winners Ronnie Peterson of Sweden (1973, 1978) and Alan Jones of Australia (1977, 1979). However, the biggest winner of all had to be the victor of the 1984 edition—Austria’s own Niki Lauda, who had finished second in 1977 and retired from racing in 1979-82. Lauda’s triumph at the Österreichring gave him enough points over Prost to leap into the lead of the Driver’s Championship standings—a position he would hold till the end of the season for his third and final World Championship Title.

Ironically, the high-speed turns that made the Österreichring such an exciting race course worked against it as the F1 cars became more and more powerful. The 1987 Austrian Grand Prix, eventually won by Great Britain’s Nigel Mansell, had to be restarted twice following two first lap pile-ups. After the race, FIA officials decided the track was too dangerous for World Championship events, and Austria was dropped from the schedule

It was not until 1997, following a complete redesign of the circuit by Hermann Tilke, that the Austrian Grand Prix was reinstated. The renovated circuit measured 4.326 kilometres with 10 turns, requiring more driving skill and less speed. The track was subsequently renamed, too, debuting as the “A1-Ring” under the sponsorship of mobile phone provider Mobilkom Austria, also known as “A1.”

Between 1997 and 2003, two F1 drivers were able to claim a pair of victories on the A1-Ring—first Mika Häkkinen of Finland (1998, 2000) and then Germany’s Michael Schumacher (2002-03). Then, once again, Austria fell off the FIA calendar. When the racing resumes in 2014, the venue will have yet another new name—the Red Bull Ring—under the ownership of energy drink maker Red Bull.

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