Red Bull Ring, a jewel hidden in the Styrian mountains
Located in the beautiful scenery of Styrian mountains, in the heart of Austria’s Spielberg region, lies one of our favorite tracks, the Red Bull Ring. FIA ‘Grade A’ rated track has been there since 1969, but over the years it went through many changes and improvements.
Spielberg as a replacement for Zeltweg
This venue, also known as Spielberg, was built with an aim to replace the outdated Zeltweg Airfield circuit. Originally, the circuit was named Osterreichring and was 5.911 km long with 16 turns. It was a really fast track, with many elevation changes, that made it extremely popular among the racing world. Österreichring hosted 18 consecutive Formula 1 Grand Prix races from 1970 until 1987.
Dangerous, but still thrilling and exciting circuit
The layout went through many changes over the years. In 1977, the track was lengthened to 5.941 km and 18 turns, but still was very fast and pretty dangerous, as some parts of the racing track were like ordinary traffic road, very tight and without any protection, what caused many fatal accidents over the years. Probably the most famous one had happened in 1975 when American driver Mark Donohue was killed in a huge crash during Formula 1 race. Despite all the troubles, drivers liked Osterreichring saying that the venue did not need any major changes.
New track for the Austrian Grand Prix
Obviously, track desperately needed modernization and in 1995, the decision of building a completely refreshed circuit at the same site was made. New layout also brought the name change and the circuit became A1 Ring. The track was shortened to 4.326 km with only nine turns. Most parts of the old layout were used for the new one which was pretty simple. Old fast turns were redesigned, there was more space for overtaking but it still was a really fast track. Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix has returned in 1997 and it remained there for the next seven years.
Further development and preparations for the Formula 1 return to Austria
Another development was made in 2004 when the old pit buildings and stands were demolished. Hermann Tilke, probably the most famous racing circuit designer ever, took on the task of designing the new Red Bull Ring, homologized by FIA as Grade A. New garages, suitable for all types of motorsports, were built just as the stands with a capacity of 40.000. The new owner of the venue, Red Bull, wanted to return different types of racing to the circuit but he hadn’t sufficient support despite the fact that many sides were interested in investing in a venue that would not profitable after all. Over the years, A1 Ring was almost unused and the future didn’t look bright.
Video – Formula 1 legends parade at Red Bull Ring
Formula 1 returns to the Red Bull Ring circuit
Finally, in 2008, Red Bull made a new investment in the facility and slowly things started to improve since 2010. Various series like DTM and Formula 2 announced they are ready to hold the races there. The track was reopened in May of 2011 in a festive atmosphere and under the new name – Red Bull Ring.
In 2012, Red Bull announced that the circuit is ready to host the Formula 1 Grand Prix and with one slot in the calendar being empty, the FIA couldn’t refuse an offer from the team which is largely involved in different types of racing. So in 2014, Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix was held after 11 years and Mercedes’ driver Nico Rosberg was triumphant.
Suitable for non-racing activities
The modern Red Bull Ring also hosts other racing series, like DTM or European Le Mans Series, but also a round of Moto GP championship. Lap record time is 1:08.337, and the record holder is Michael Schumacher. He achived this in 2003, driving a Ferrari F2003-GA.
Red Bull Ring also offers an opportunity for the racing enthusiasts to pass through dynamic driving programs on different types of vehicles. The venue, with all its ancillary buildings, is also ideal for product presentations, thanks to a seminar room that offering great views of the racing track.
Getting there and accomodation
Getting to Red Bull Ring is relatively easy as the road network is well organized but on the racing days, traffic could be pretty heavy. The nearest airport is located in Graz, some 90 km from the venue while the airports in Klagenfurt and Linz are 120 and 190 km from the circuit. Austria’s biggest airport in Vienna is 200 km from the circuit.
Visitors can accommodate in some of the nearby hotels or guest houses but it is good to know that are the capacities are relatively small, so it’s better to book rooms in advance if you plan to watch, for example, Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Address: Red Bull Ring Str. 1, 8724 Spielberg, Austria
Phone: +43 3577 202