Austrian Grand Prix: Close encounters of the F1 kind at Spielberg

Allan Mcnish
BBC Radio 5 live commentator Allan McNish proudly showed off his Lederhosen as he packed his bags for Austria

A great race track once stood on the site that now hosts the Austrian Grand Prix. But the remodelled Red Bull Ring is not it, despite the similarity of their profiles.

The old Osterreichring was a place to send shivers down the spine, a daunting, high-speed swoop and dive through the foothills of the Styrian mountains that rivalled any track in the world.

It held its last grand prix in 1987, consigned to history because it was too extreme a challenge, just too risky. Even for 30 years ago.

The Austrian Grand Prix was revived 10 years later, in the same place, just outside the village of Spielberg, but the track was a shadow of its former self.

The new circuit - then called the A1-Ring, since bought by Red Bull and re-named - followed a familiar route and turned in similar places. But the famous old corners - the Bosch Kurve, the Rindt Kurve and so on - were all gone.

Still, what remains is a nice enough place in the modern way of things. Long straights and slow corners make for a decent track to race on, and the entries into some of the bends pose their own challenge - particularly downhill into the penultimate corner, the trickiest on the track.

And some things remain unchanged.

Austria

It's a long way from anywhere - a two-hour-plus drive from Vienna, even an hour or so from Graz.

But when you arrive, the scenery is glorious, the track clinging to a sloping meadow, pine forest and mountain peaks beyond.

And the fans still flock there, camping out, rock music blaring day and night, turning the weekend into one long beer-drenched party.

After a venture into new territory in Azerbaijan, it will feel very much like returning to F1's heartland.

Andrew Benson, chief F1 writer

The track

Red Bull

Finishing in style...

Austria
Vittorio Brambilla claimed his only F1 victory in Austria in 1975... and promptly crashed after taking the chequered flag

Hare-ton Senna

Hare
Canada has its groundhogs and Austria has its hares. The long-legged mammals have no fear when F1 comes to town

Home comforts?

Red Bull
This may be a home race for Red Bull but they have yet to taste victory at Spielberg. Mercedes and Nico Rosberg have won the last two editions
McLaren
McLaren have won the most races in Austria, but Ferrari could draw level with a victory this weekend

Best corner

Red Bull
The penultimate corner - a blind right-hander called Rindt. It is named after Austria's 1970 world champion Jochen Rindt - the sport's only posthumous title winner

Close encounters

elio de angelis wins in austria
The best race in Austria has got to be 1982, when Elio de Angelis took his maiden F1 victory after beating Keke Rosberg by half a car length - or 0.05 seconds - in a race full of incident
Close encounter
Austria has regularly witnessed close finishes, with 11 of the 29 previous races having been won by less than five seconds, and 17 by under 10 seconds. Nico Rosberg beat Lewis Hamilton by 8.8s last year

Not that close

Steven Spielberg
The Austrian Grand Prix circuit is situated in Spielberg. That's Spielberg the city and not Steven Spielberg, director of Indiana Jones and Close Encounters of the Third Kind among other films. Obviously

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