Austrian Grand Prix
The Austrian Grand Prix is one of the races in the world of Formula One. Its races were held in 1964, 1970-1987, and 1997-2003 – each period faced different challenges. This race was sanctioned by FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) due to many safety issues. It once again entered the F1 calendar in 2014.
When was the first Austrian Grand Prix?
The Austrian Grand Prix (Großer Preis von Österreich in German) was held in two different places in the southern part of Austria (Zeltweg, Spielberg). The first two years of the race was held at an airfield before it was transferred to a permanent race track called Österreichring that was built in 1969. The race was held in three separate periods, gapped by redevelopment of the circuit.
How did the Österreichring change through time?
The Austrian Grand Prix was sanctioned by the FIA and has been removed from the calendar race for 3 periods due the redevelopment and change of ownership of the Österreichring.
The first make of Österreichring circuit’ measurement falls just under 6 KM and has a of a series of high-speed corners and elevation changes with little in the way of run off areas. An American driver, Mark Donohue, lost his life following an accident in 1975. This has caused the addition of a chicane to slow speeds on the fastest section of the circuit. Nevertheless, the Österreichring remained frighteningly fast and in 1987, Nelson Piquet’s pole lap averaged a blistering 159.457 mph (255.756 km/h). Also in the same year, the lapses of the circuit – especially the narrow start-finish straight – were highlighted by two huge crashes on the opening lap. This has resulted in two restarts in the race and it was the kew to the circuit’s shut down. It was deemed unsafe for the era’s hugely powerful turbo cars. The Österreichring was temporarily erased in the F1 calendar in 1988 and wouldn’t return for another ten years, despite updates to the circuit in the interim years, including the widening of the pit straight and the new concept of the Bosch Curve.
Thanks to Hermann Tilke! The race returned in 1997 with a new layout and new name, A1-Ring. Tilke, a designer of today’s many F1 track, was able to commission its renovation through a funding from a telecommunications company. This was Tilke’s first major commission. The shortened version of the circuit (4.3 KM) retained few of the fast sweeping corners. The ring was able to host seven Austrian Grand Prix between 1997-2003, two races won by Mika Hakkinen and another two for Michael Schumacher.
Red Bull Ring
The A1-Ring did not generate more money as what it is expected to do. It was removed from the calendar for 2004 because of Austria’s support for anti-tobacco legislation in the EU. The Red Bull Founder Enter Dietrich Mateschitz purchased the circuit and began its €70M redevelopment. The project included demolishing the existing pit buildings, when local authorities upheld environmental complaints and halted work on the track. Until Mateschitz finally completed a less ambitious revival of the circuit, it stayed stagnant for six years. The newly named Red Bull Ring opened in 2011. It wasn’t too long before Mateschitz persuaded Bernie Ecclestone to sign a new seven-year Formula 1 hosting contract. The first race was staged in 2014 and attracted a sell-out crowd.
What does the Red Bull Ring look like?
Hermann Tilke, the world’s most renowned race circuit designer himself, took on the task of designing the new Red Bull Ring. The result: a racetrack that is just like an adventure park, rated by FIA as “Grade A”.
The total length of 4.318 km pertains to the Grand Prix circuit during the years 1996 to 2003. Two junctions on the racetrack makes a separation into a northern and a southern track. The lower section, stretching 2.4 km, is also suited for major events and uses the main facility’s infrastructure. On the other hand, the remaining northern section, stretching 1.9 km, can be used as additional space for events. This racetrack features a challenging difference in altitude – a maximum uphill slope of 12 %, maximum downhill slope of 9.3 %.
Where are the best spots at the Red Bull Ring to watch the Austrian Grand Prix?
Main Grandstand (Start-Finish)
Tickets are classified in to two, permanent Start-Finish grandstand, which was built ahead of the return race in 2014. The more expensive seats in the middle of the grandstand that features better views of the pits (sections D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N) are priced at €495 for the duration of the race, while the more affordable sections either side (A, B, C, O, P, Q) are priced at €395 for the whole season. Some higher seats give you panoramic views over the circuit. A good choice for pits action and the start/finish of the race. If you want to witness a more on-track action, choose Red Bull or Sud West.
The tickets sold for this grandstand in the Red Bull circuit are really expensive, but there’s a reason behind it. If you are willing to spend €495 for the season, prior to discounted rates, you’ll be privileged to have an excellent view of the opening corner plus unequalled panoramic views of the circuit over large sections of the circuit. The grandstand is also close to the Fan Zone, where all the best catering can be found, plus merchandise, concerts and the F1 Legends Parade display. However, just like everything has a “downside”, the grandstand is uncovered and open to hazards.
Red Bull Grandstand
This large grandstand is placed between turns 1-2, giving the spectators decent panoramic views over much of the track. Tickets for this are priced from €195-495. The most expensive seats are in sections A and B, which are closest to turn 1; tickets then get progressively cheaper as you go up to section K, which is a long way up the hill towards turn 2. From the middle sections, you also get a good view of the infield turns 4-5.
General Admission Viewing at the Red Bull Ring
Red Bull Ring offer some excellent viewing opportunities for the General Admission areas spectators. The areas on the hill at the top of the circuit provide panoramic views of large sections of the track, and there were multiple big screen TVs on which to follow the action and this is not a usual feature of any General admission area. There’s also good views on the outside of the entry to Turn 3. Closer to the start/finish straight, there is also excellent viewing on the entry to turn 8 where you can really see the cars on the limit. Also another great place to watch the action is the outside of the final corner (turn 9).
Other Red Bull Ring Grandstands
Tickets were not sold for the Nord grandstand in 2020 . This is a covered, permanent grandstand at the top of the circuit, overlooking turn 3. Unfortunately, it’s set back quite a distance from the circuit and you don’t get to see much more than turn 3, unlike other grandstands which offer panoramic views, such as Sud West or Red Bull. It’s also a 30-40 minute walk from the main Fan Zone near turn 1.
The Mitte grandstand is located in the middle of the circuit between turns 5 & 6, close to the big bull. Tickets for this place are sold exclusively to Dutch fans of Max Verstappen. The grass area here (close to the track but raised above the catch fencing) is a good place to practice your panning photography shots.
How do I get to the Red Bull Ring?
Red Bull circuit is located in a rural area and it’s not always that easy to get to the location – not as easy as getting to a city circuit like Baku. On the upper hand, Austria is a small country with a good transport network. The best option for this is to fly into Vienna airport and ride a taxi or rent a car from there. Getting to the circuit via motorway from Vienna is just over 2 hours (200km). If you are not camping at the track, the most convenient way to get to the circuit (from Graz, or wherever you decide to stay) is by car. Being that said, there are still good and reliable train and bus services to the circuit on Grand Prix weekend.
Arriving to Austria via Airplane (Nearest Airports)
Flughafen Graz closest airport and it’s around 85km from the Red Bull Ring. This is just a small airport however, with a limited number of connections to larger airports in the region like Vienna, Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart, Dusseldorf, Zurich etc. Now, the Klagenfurt Airport (KLU) which is approximately 100km from the circuit, is also worth considering for discount carrier flights to Hamburg, Cologne and Berlin (with Eurowings). The best choice however, is Vienna International Airport (VIE), although it’s 200km from the circuit. It offers a wide range of short, medium and long haul flights.
Taking the Buses and Trains
At Knittelfeld is connected to majority of the cities. It takes about a 3-hour drive from Vienna to Knittelfeld. From there, you will find the nearest train station and can take shuttle buses around the area to travel to the circuit on the race weekend. Don’t forget to check on their schedule and reserve your tickets on the Austrian train operator ÖBB website. Cheaper bookings are available the earlier you reserve.
The hourly train facility from Graz to Knittelfeld takes about 80 minutes with one connecting transfer along the route in Bruck.
Meanwhile, transits or direct train travels occur between nearby Graz and cities such as Salzburg, Linz, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Munich, Stuttgart and Frankfurt.
On a Grand Prix weekend, event bus services go around the country and post bus also operates regional services to the Red Bull Ring circuit. Providentially, most transport services are accessible closer to the race.
Driving to the Red Bull Ring
Driving to the Red Bull Ring is a piece of cake. The sight along the way is exceptional since the location is in the middle of Europe. It is just 2 hours away from Vienna, 3 hours from Udine in Italy and 4 ½ hours from Munich in Germany. The streets and boulevards are systematic and easy to navigate, and only few highway sections entail toll charges. t’s easy to drive to the Red Bull Ring, which benefits from an excellent location in the middle of Europe. The circuit is approximately a 2-hour drive from Vienna, 3 hours from Udine in Italy and 4 ½ hours from Munich in Germany.
Signage on the motorways will simply lead you to the Red Bull Ring (which is located next to the S36 motorway), but you may still use GPS or Googlemaps just to be sure. If you’re in Graz, it’ll only take you less than an hour to get there. In 2015, traffic jam was not an issue even on the actual race day. There should also be enough FREE parking spaces next to the circuit but it always pays to be early to secure your spot.
What to prepare when travelling to Austria?
The Republic of Austria (Republik Österreich) is named as one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with a per capita GDP of approximately $50,000 USD and has about a population of 9 million up to date. It is a mountainous East Alpine country mostly surrounded by land of south-central Europe. The capital of Austria is the notable and historic Vienna (Wien), the former seat of the Holy Roman Empire and a city prominent for its architecture.
Austria’ currency is EURO. Although identified as a very expensive state, travelling to the Grand Prix will not hurt your pocket and trackside prices are reasonable. Service fees are generally included in restaurant, taxi and other bills, but it’s customary to round up the bill (e.g. from €18.70 to €20.00) to show gratitude and satisfaction.
Preparing for the weather
In the breathtaking land of Styria is where The Red Bull Ring is located. It is famous for skiing in winter and it rains every so often. Protected by the Alps from the colder weather facades, it more likely to be Mediterranean in nature. Warm temperature of approximately 25-30ºC (77- 86ºF) exists in mid-Summer when the race is held.
Useful travel facts
In general, Austria is regulated to ensure safety of not only its residents, but also tourists. Although tagged as a European country with one of the lowest crime rates, it’s always better to be alert specifically in congested areas and on public transport. For security’s sake, make sure not to leave your valuables in your car. The trackside will be safeguarded by seasoned securities to keep you from worrying about any danger in the circuit.
If you are a European citizen, kindly get an EHIC card so you can use Austrian healthcare services if the need arises. It’s also mandatory to have travel insurance in place for emergencies. Moreover, Croatian, Hungarian, Slovenian, Turkish, English and other languages are spoken by various minority groups, Austria’s mother language is German.
The Grand Prix is usually held in July and they follow Central European Summer Time (CEST) which is equivalent to GMT +1 hour (or UTC + 2 hours).
As good as Europe, Austria uses type F power plugs (230 V / 50 Hz) – bring your own portable adapter if you are travelling from the UK, Australia or USA.
Tap water in Austria is nontoxic. Locals safely drink from public faucets.
In emergency situations, just dial 112. Official languages used by operators are English and German. Otherwise, you can dial 122 in event of a fire and 133 for the police.