The Österreichring is a disused Austrian race circuit which hosted the Formula One Austrian Grand Prix for 18 consecutive years, from to .
After being shortened, rebuilt and renamed the
, it hosted the Austrian Grand Prix again
from to .
is located in Spielberg, Styria.
Österreichring was more often referred to as being located at
Zeltweg, which is bigger and better known.
the circuit was never relocated, only modified.
addition, the one-off 1964
Austrian Grand Prix was held at Zeltweg Airfield, so this name was already known.
Österreichring track layout from 1977
to 1995, with Hella-Licht
The track was known for having many fast corners, as well as
noticeable changes in elevation during the course of a lap. Many
considered the Österreichring to be dangerous, especially the
"Boschkurve", a 180-degree right-hand corner with almost no run-off
area. Tragically, American driver
Mark Donohue died after crashing at the
"Hella-Licht" corner in .
It is also known that four-times
World Champion Alain Prost
that all tracks can be changed but that the Österreichring should
remain unchanged, just adding run-off areas would be fine.
The redesigned track layout, as used
from 1997 onwards
The Österreichring's safety concerns reached a head in 1987 when
that year's race
restarts following crashes on the starting grid. As a result, the
track was abandoned by Formula One for nearly a decade. In 1995 and
1996, it was totally rebuilt, at the same site, by Hermann Tilke
. Its length was shortened from
5.942 km (3.692 mi) to 4.326 km (2.688 mi), and the fast
sweeping corners were replaced by three tight right-handers, in
order to create overtaking opportunities. Its three long straights,
as well as a twisty infield section, asked for a setup
As much of the construction work was paid for by the cellphone
, the track was renamed the A1-Ring. It
proceeded to host seven Formula One Austrian Grands Prix between
1997 and 2003, as well as several DTM
touring car races.
The grandstands and pit buildings were demolished in 2004,
rendering the track unusable for any motorsport
category. In late 2004 and early 2005,
there were intense discussions whether the owner, Red Bull
, would find another use for the site or
actually bring back motor sports to it. However, as of January
2005, this seems more unlikely than ever, as Dietrich Mateschitz
that he had no intention to waste money on a deficitary circuit.
This failure of the project, which was of considerable importance
for the surrounding municipalities, may even have serious political
repercussions, as Styrian governor Waltraud Klasnic had strongly
supported the project.
In 2006, Austrian racing driver Alexander
claimed he would buy the circuit and have it renovated,
but little has come about this.
During the whole of 2005 there were speculations of Red Bull Racing
renovating the track and using it as a personal testing track in
Formula One. It remains to be seen if Mateschitz and his Red Bull
Racing will do something about the abandoned track.
In 2007, talks involving Red Bull, KTM
for a neuer Österreichring
after VW pulled out.
In April 2008 the current owners of the track, Red Bull
, were to restore the track as a racing
venue and DTM
were considering to return there for a race in 2009. But in July
2008, the DTM organizers have decided not to include Österreichring
into the 2009 program, although plans for the revival of the track
are still under discussion.
In October 2008, the track owner Dietrich Mateschitz
has ruled out any
chance for the track to host a MotoGP
Grand Prix in the future,
and it will only be used for DTM
races. The rebuilt track
will be finished by the end of 2010.