Grand Prix 2014 Austrian Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

F1 is back In Speilberg, Austria for the first time in 11 years.

The Speilberg race track has a long history in F1. The original track was know as the Osterrelchring. The track was built in 1969 to replace the Zeltweg airfield circuit, and first debuted in F1 in 1970. It was a very fast circuit with every corner a fast sweeping spectacle meaning drivers never had to drop below 3rd gear. However large sections of the track had little run off and some sections including the start finish straight were very narrow. Mark Donohue’s death in 1975 resulted in alterations to the Vost-Hugel Kurve and in 1977 the Hella-Licht chicane was added. After that Allan Prost pushed for larger run off’s rather than more track alterations. These followed in some, but not all corners.

The Osterrelchring was a regular offering until 1987 when the turbo era pushed engine power up to 1400 bhp in quailfying. The speeds achieved approaching the Bosch Kurve were well over 200mph, a corner still with little run off. Other corners were also very fast and the track was considered to be dangerous and having out grown F1’s in its new faster era.

But the real crunch came after two restarts were required in 1987 due to crashes caused by the narrow start finish straight. With the cars now over 6 feet wide, the straight was not wide enough to get much more than 2 cars side by side. F1 had had enough, and Austria was dropped in favour of Budapest.

The track gradually fell into disrepair until the Austrian Telephone Company paid for it’s revamping by Herman Tilke in return for it being renamed the A1-Ring. The A1-Ring returned to the calendar in 1997. Most of the fast corners had gone in favour of 3 tight corners introduced to give more overtaking opportunities. It was also much shorter, down from 3.67 miles too just 2.68 miles. The A1 Ring enjoyed a 7 year run until it was again dropped after 2003.

In 2004 the pit buildings and grandstands were demolished in anticipation of building new facilities. Then the money ran out. This rendered the track unusable for any motorsport. It lay abandoned until Red Bull started 70million Euro renovation works in 2008. The track reopened in 2011 as the renamed Red Bull Ring.

And now we’re back.

We are now past 1/3rd distance in the season. In the Constructors Championship the Mercedes looks more or less unbeatable barring double ERS failures. It seems unlikey anyone will find 1-2 second a lap over them in the next few races in order to amount a challenge. I think it is more likely it will be the end of the season before things close up.

However Mercedes ‘no number 1’ policy is giving us a great battle between Lewis and Nico for the World Drivers Championship. With Nico now 22 points clear following Lewis's 2nd DNF of the year, Lewis really has a challenge on now to catch Rosberg. I'm sure he is hoping for a good luck, bad luck switch with his team mate.

Great to see Dan taking his first win, and with The Red Bull Ring being Red Bulls home track who knows we may see him on the top step again.

Somehow I think this ain't over by a long shot.

Here is the debacle that was 1987.
1987 start 1 crash
1987 start 2 crash
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Did anyone actually attend the Austrian GP?
Was it really affordable?
Was it really entertaining?
Was it really well organised?

Having just read Horner's praise of the event and organisation in Autosport I would like some bitterness to wash away the sickly sweet aftertaste of his comments: that was beyond sycophancy!
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