Following months of deliberation, yesterday saw conformation that the Austrian Grand Prix will return to the F1 calender next season, as the sport returns to the country following a ten year absence. The Red Bull Ring will host the event, (formerly known as the A1 Ring) and has provided some of the sports most exciting and controversial races. The inclusion of this additional European race takes the preliminary 2014 calender up to an astounding 22 races.
Initial plans indicate that the race will take place on July 6th next season. A short statement from Red Bull read: “Dietrich Mateschitz and Bernie Ecclestone have reached agreement to the effect that Formula 1 will come back to Styria next year.”
The track is certainly a historic venue. It held its first F1 race back in 1970 and was a staple of the calender until 1987, when circuit issues which needed addressing meant that it was dropped from the schedule. However, following significant refurbishment the Austrian Grand Prix returned in 1997, with the circuit being named the A1 Ring after its leading sponsor. The race in 2002 was overshadowed by the controversial team orders from Ferrari which saw long time race leader Ruberns Barrichello relinquish his victory to teammate Micheal Schumacher as they headed towards the finish line on the final lap. “Ruberns, let Micheal pass for the championship” is an order which will scarcely be forgotten. The circuit hosted its last race in 2003.
The high speed nature of the venue always attracts great interest. Moreover, its location in central Europe encourages large crowds, meaning that the latest deal could prove very lucrative for both Bernie Ecclestone and Dietrich Mateschitz.