Red Bull Ring: The Ultimate Track Guide

Red Bull Ring: The Ultimate Track Guide

Situated in the remote but breathtaking Styrian mountains, the track now known as the Red Bull Ring returned to the F1 calendar in 2014. With lap times of just over a minute, the track has been changed a lot over the years but has maintained its nostalgic spark.

TRACK LENGTH 2.688 miles
MOST POLES Niki Lauda, Rene Arnoux, Nelson Piquet (3)
MOST WINS Alain Prost (3)



In 1958, a temporary circuit was set up on the military airfield in Zeltweg. The course, inspired by the way in which the iconic Silverstone circuit came into being, was marked out by hay bales and raced on in a non-chmpionship F1 event in 1963, before stepping up as an official round of the championship in 1964. The track surface, however, was far too bumpy and abrasive for F1 machinery, and the sport never returned to the circuit.

Instead, six years later, Formula One settled at a track just up the valley from the airfield, named the Osterreichring. The track was around double the length of the Zeltweg airfield track, and was tremendously fast, with flowing bends which swept through the mountainous surroundings. With not much run-off area the track was dangerous, as proven by the 1975 race where a series of accidents marred the practice sessions. At the Hella-Licht curve, the first turn on the track, American racer Mark Donohue crashed through the catch-fencing, ultimately leading to his death and the death of a marshal. Changes were made to the track following the event, and a chicane was added making the former fastest corner on the track become the slowest.

The 1987 event was the last to be held at the original Osterreichring. Safety fears and lack of funding from the organisers to be in a position to make it safer meant the track disappeared from the calendar. The Austrian round of the championship was replaced with the Hungarian Grand Prix.

After a decade, the track returned as the revamped and renamed A1 Ring in 1997. The track had been given a new lease of life between 1995 and 1996 with funding from A1, a mobile telecommunications company. After being re-designed by Hermann Tilke, the A1 ring was considerably shorter than the original track layout, cutting around a mile of track out where the first turn of the track now sits. Although the track was much safer in its new form, many felt that the redesign had taken the soul of the place away. The event remained on the calendar for seven seasons before the last Grand Prix in 2003.

Considerable time was spent deciding what to do with the circuit, before the grandstands and pit buildings were demolished in 2004. Rendered as unusable for any form of motorsport, the track sat silent as construction work stopped. Austrian driver Alexander Wurz claimed he would buy the circuit but this never happened. Instead, the track was bought by Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz and was to be brought back up to the highest standard, with working commencing in late 2008. It was re-opened as the Red Bull Ring in 2011 and hosted rounds of DTM and Formula 2.

In July 2013, reports suggested that the Austrian Grand Prix would return at the Red Bull Ring in 2014. Indeed, in December 2013, the following year’s calendar was officially confirmed with the Austrian Grand Prix on the list.

The Red Bull Ring currently holds a contract to host the Austrian Grand Prix until 2020.


63.6 metres is the difference between the highest and lowest point on the track, which sits 600 metres above sea level.


  • The lap is the shortest, in terms of time taken to do one lap, on the calendar, taking just over one minute to complete.
  • Stefan Johansson hit a deer in Austrian Grand Prix practice in 1987. The Swede suffered broken ribs in the 180mph impact but managed to complete the Grand Prix just days later.


The breathtaking scenery is enough to make the trip to the Red Bull Ring worthwhile. Aside from that, with such a short track, qualifying can be quite exciting here.


Poles Driver
3 Niki Lauda
3 Rene Arnoux
3 Nelson Piquet
2 Emerson Fittipaldi
2 Mika Häkkinen
2 Michael Schumacher
2 Lewis Hamilton
2 Valtteri Bottas
1 Jochen Rindt
1 Jo Siffert
1 James Hunt
1 Ronnie Peterson
1 Patrick Tambay
1 Alain Prost
1 Teo Fabi
1 Jacques Villeneuve
1 Giancarlo Fisichella
1 Rubens Barrichello
1 Felipe Massa
1 Max Verstappen


Year Winner Team
1970 Jacky Ickx Ferrari
1971 Jo Siffert BRM
1972 Emerson Fittipaldi Lotus-Ford
1973 Ronnie Peterson Lotus-Ford
1974 Carlos Reutemann Brabham-Ford
1975 Vittorio Brambilla March-Ford
1976 John Watson Penske-Ford
1977 Alan Jones Shadow-Ford
1978 Ronnie Peterson Lotus-Ford
1979 Alan Jones Williams-Ford
1980 Jean-Pierre Jabouille Renault
1981 Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra
1982 Elio de Angelis Lotus-Ford
1983 Alain Prost Renault
1984 Niki Lauda McLaren-TAG
1985 Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
1986 Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
1987 Nigel Mansell Williams-Honda
1997 Jacques Villeneuve Williams-Renault
1998 Mika Häkkinen McLaren-Mercedes
1999 Eddie Irvine Ferrari
2000 Mika Häkkinen McLaren-Mercedes
2001 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes
2002 Michael Schumacher Ferrari
2003 Michael Schumacher Ferrari
2014 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2015 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2016 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2017 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes
2018 Max Verstappen Red Bull