Austrian Grand Prix: What you should swerve in Spielberg

Red Bull
The imposing statue stands in the centre of the Red Bull Ring circuit

Like a race track situated in the middle of a lid of a box of chocolates sold in an Alpine tourist shop, the Red Bull Ring is the most picturesque of grand prix circuits.

It slaloms around a verdant wooded hillside in the Styrian mountains, rising gently up towards snow peaks before descending again.

It is on the same site - and uses some of the same track - as the magnificent old Osterreichring, which hosted F1 in the 1970s and 1980s. But the new version is not only considerably shorter but also nowhere near as grand.

The Osterreichring was an awe-inspiring combination of brutally fast corners, the names of which still resonate in motorsport folklore - Glatz Kurve, Texaco Schikane and, most of all, the Bosch Kurve. It was up there with Spa and Suzuka as one of the world's great tests of man and machine.

You can still walk around the old track, the mind wandering back to a more evocative age. The new circuit is mostly inside it, mirroring its shape; the corners now much slower.

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

In terms of names, only the Rindt Kurve remains - but the track there has changed out of recognition.

The old Rindt Kurve was a long, swooping 180-degree 150mph right-hander that brought the cars back on to the pit straight. The new one is the penultimate corner - still arguably the best turn on the track, but now a sharper, downhill right-hander, where it is easy to run wide and get into trouble.

No sooner are drivers off the kerb there than they are into the very similar final corner. It can be an incident-packed end to the lap.

If the Red Bull Ring has lost much of its wow factor, it remains a pretty good track. Short, punchy, long straights into slow corners, a couple of decent quick-ish ones in Turns Six, Seven and Nine.

Up in the mountains, the weather is unpredictable - storms can come out of nowhere - and the summer heat can be torpid.

And there's a fun atmosphere. The track is miles from anywhere - Vienna is two hours away; Graz an hour - but boisterous thousands come down to camp, the smell of barbecues hanging in the air, heavy rock pounding out morning and night.

In that way, at least, it remains just as it was.

Andrew Benson, chief F1 writer

Rock me Amadeus

High on the tourist trap list and full to the brim with kitsch souvenirs, a trip to Salzburg brings the delights of the Mozart gift shop.

Dedicated to all things Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, grab yourself a box of "Mozartkugel" (pistachio marzipan and nougat, covered with dark chocolate), or the complete score of The Marriage of Figaro on a set of napkins.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart shop
"Mozart ball anyone?" "I'm good..."

The track

Red Bull

Birthday boys

Two reason to celebrate in the pits this weekend.

Firstly, Red Bull man and shoey extraordinaire Daniel Ricciardo turned 28...

Daniel Ricciardo Twitter

Then Ferrari blew the candles out for Sebastian Vettel who hit the big 3-0 on Monday.

Formula 1 Twitter

Austrian Oak

An Austrian preview wouldn't be complete without a picture of the one and only... Mr Austria himself... Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Although yet to make an appearance at his home race, Arnie was guest of honour at the Australian Grand Prix back in 2015.

Race winner Lewis Hamilton remarked on the podium: "I though you were taller."

Tell that to Danny de Vito.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny de Vito in Twins, 1988
The big man even has a museum of his life in the house where he was born in Thal, southern Austria

Deer in the headlights

There have been plenty of close calls when it comes to wildlife wandering across the race track, but in 1987, one animal encounter proved near fatal.

During Friday's Austrian GP practice session, the McLaren of Stefan Johansson hit a deer at close to 180mph, killing it instantly, and ripping the whole left-side of his car clean off.

Johansson walked away from the impact without major injury but said: "If I had have been perhaps 10 inches to the other side it would have hit me and taken my head off, no doubt about it."

"Anyone seen Stefan?"

As it stands

Title contenders: who has finished where so far: Vettel has three wins, as does Hamilton
Title contenders: who has finished where so far

How to follow on BBC Sport

BBC Sport has live coverage of all the season's races on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, plus live online commentary on the BBC Sport website and mobile app - including audience interaction, expert analysis, debate, voting, features, interviews and video content.

Coverage details (all times BST)
DateSessionTimeRadio coverageOnline text commentary
ThursdayPreviewFrom 20:005 live podcast
Friday, 7 JulyFirst practice08:55-11:00Online onlyFrom 08:30
Second practice12:55-14:35Online onlyFrom 12:30
Saturday, 8 JulyThird practice09:55-11:05Online onlyFrom 09:30
Qualifying12:55-14:05Online onlyFrom 12:00
Sunday, 9 JulyAustrian Grand Prix13:00-15:00BBC Radio 5 liveFrom 11:30
Monday, 10 JulyReview04:30-05:00BBC Radio 5 live & podcast

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