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 circuit has been changed a lot over the years yet has maintained a nostalgic spark.


FIRST F1 RACE 1970
TRACK LENGTH 2.688 miles
NUMBER OF LAPS 71
NUMBER OF TURNS 9
MOST POLES Niki Lauda, Rene Arnoux, Nelson Piquet, Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton (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 1 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 hosted the opening rounds of the delayed 2020 Formula 1 season. With no fans in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic, the circuit hosted the Austrian Grand Prix and the Styrian Grand Prix. It was the first time that F1 raced at the same track on two consecutive weekends, as well as the first time two successive rounds of the championship were held in the same country since 1996. 


🇦🇹 DID YOU KNOW?

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


🇦🇹 2020 STYRIAN GP RECAP

Lewis Hamilton was peerless at the 2020 Styrian Grand Prix, taking pole by over a second in wet conditions and claiming a comfortable win ahead of his team-mate.

For the first time in Formula 1 history, the Red Bull Ring hosted two races on consecutive weekends, with the second race titled the Styrian Grand Prix. The second weekend was held in contrasting conditions to the first. Rain on Saturday saw Free Practice 3 cancelled, while qualifying was held in wet conditions. The adverse conditions allowed George Russell to reach Q2 for the first time in his career, while Lewis Hamilton dominated the final session and took pole by over a second. Max Verstappen lined up alongside Hamilton on the front row, while Carlos Sainz qualified a career-best third. The order remained the same on the first lap, while further back the two Ferrari drivers collided, resulting in a double DNF for the Scuderia in what was fast becoming a season to forget. Hamilton was not challenged for the victory and took a comfortable win ahead of his team-mate, who had raced Verstappen hard for second place. Behind the front three, a battle for fourth place between Alex Albon and Sergio Perez very nearly resulted in Albon colliding with a driver in the same spot as he had done one week previously. Perez picked up front wing damage as a result. On the penultimate lap, in the fight for sixth place, Lance Stroll attempted an overtake on Daniel Ricciardo, resulting in both drivers running wide at Turn 3. Lando Norris took advantage of the situation to sweep by the duo. Stroll fought back, but Norris soon re-passed on the final lap. With Perez struggling with the damage to his wing, the McLaren was closing on the Racing Point, and Norris was able to secure fifth place at the penultimate corner.

🇦🇹 2020 AUSTRIAN GP RECAP

The 2020 Formula 1 season began four months later than planned with the Austrian Grand Prix – a race which was well worth waiting for.

The coronavirus pandemic ended the Australian Grand Prix before the on-track action had even begun and went on to decimate the opening half of the calendar, but the 2020 season finally began at the start of July with the Austrian Grand Prix. It was a familiar order at the front in qualifying, with Mercedes securing the two fastest times. Valtteri Bottas brought out the yellow flags in Q3 with a trip across the grass, but had already done enough to secure pole position. Bottas’ off caused problems for Lewis Hamilton, who was handed a three-place grid penalty for failing to slow for the yellow flags. At the start, Bottas maintained his lead, with Max Verstappen and Lando Norris vying for second place. Hamilton was soon back up to second place, with his charge helped by engine issues for Verstappen, which saw him retire from the race. Ferrari had struggled for pace all weekend, and Sebastian Vettel compounded those problems with a spin after trying to pass Carlos Sainz. The Ferrari driver dropped to the back of the field as a result. Further retirements followed for Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll and Kevin Magnussen, before George Russell brought out the Safety Car as he broke down with 20 laps of the race remaining. At the restart, Kimi Raikkonen lost a wheel, bringing out the Safety Car once more. With ten laps to go, Alex Albon – on fresher tyres having pitted under the Safety Car – attempted an overtake on Hamilton for second place. The pair collided, and Albon fell down the order. Charles Leclerc moved into an unlikely third position – which would become second following a five-second time penalty for Hamilton, who was deemed to have caused the collision with Albon. Hamilton’s penalty promoted Norris into third place, recording the first podium finish of his career. Norris set the Fastest Lap on the final lap of the race, allowing him to close to within five seconds of the Mercedes driver. Nicholas Latifi, the only rookie in the field, was last to cross the line and finished the race eleventh, just outside of the points.

🇦🇹 2019 AUSTRIAN GP RECAP

A thrilling 2019 Austrian Grand Prix saw young chargers Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen starting alongside each other on the front row, with Verstappen eventually triumphing in an explosive late race battle.

Qualifying saw a multitude of blocking incidents, with George Russell picking up a three-place penalty for blocking Daniil Kvyat and Lewis Hamilton receiving the same penalty for impeding Kimi Raikkonen. While Sebastian Vettel was unable to take part in Q3, it was Charles Leclerc who took pole, lining up alongside Max Verstappen to set a new record for the youngest front row in F1 history. Verstappen had a poor start and dropped down the order. Lando Norris had a flying start and was up to third at Turn 1. Norris’ time in the top three didn’t last long, as Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen passed him in the next corners. Vettel made up for his qualifying woes by reaching fourth place before his pit stop; but the team weren’t ready for him and he suffered a long stop. Hamilton’s pit stop was delayed as he took on a new front wing following earlier damage. On Lap 50, Verstappen overtook Vettel for third place, before overtaking Valtteri Bottas for second six laps later. This led to a thrilling conclusion of the race, in which Verstappen hunted down race leader Leclerc. On Lap 68, Verstappen made a bold move on the Ferrari at Turn 3 but couldn’t make it stick. He tried again on the next lap and was more successful; though his move caught the attention of the stewards. Verstappen went on to win and his victory was confirmed hours after the race as the stewards decided not to penalise the Dutchman. Bottas completed the podium, as Vettel overtook Hamilton for fourth on the penultimate lap. The victory was the first for a Honda power unit since the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix.

🇦🇹 2018 AUSTRIAN GP RECAP

A rare double DNF for Mercedes paved the way for Max Verstappen to take Red Bull’s first victory at their home event.

Sebastian Vettel picked up a three-place grid penalty for impeding Carlos Sainz in the second part of Qualifying. The German driver started from sixth, while Valtteri Bottas took his first pole of the season. Bottas was down to third by the first turn though, as both Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen passed him. Bottas soon re-took second with an impressive overtake, leaving Raikkonen fighting with Max Verstappen for third place. Bottas’ work was in vain though – he retired on the fourteenth lap with a gearbox problem. A Virtual Safety Car period ensued, an opportunity which Verstappen took to pit while leader Hamilton didn’t. Verstappen was way ahead of the Mercedes as a result, Hamilton knocked down to fifth after a gutsy overtake from Vettel. James Vowells soon apologised to Hamilton for the strategic error, but it ultimately didn’t matter – Hamilton retired with seven laps of the race remaining. Verstappen went on to take his first win of the season, finishing just over a second ahead of Raikkonen. Vettel completed the podium in third and re-took the championship lead as a result.

🇦🇹 RED BULL RING WINNERS AND POLESITTERS

YearPolesitterTeam On PoleWinnerWinning Team
1970Jochen RindtLotusJacky IckxFerrari
1971Jo SiffertBRMJo SiffertBRM
1972Emerson FittipaldiLotusEmerson FittipaldiLotus
1973Emerson FittipaldiLotusRonnie PetersonLotus
1974Niki LaudaFerrariCarlos ReutemannBrabham
1975Niki LaudaFerrariVittorio BrambillaMarch
1976James HuntMcLarenJohn WatsonPenske
1977Niki LaudaFerrariAlan JonesShadow
1978Ronnie PetersonLotusRonnie PetersonLotus
1979Rene ArnouxRenaultAlan JonesWilliams
1980Rene ArnouxRenaultJean-Pierre JabouilleRenault
1981Rene ArnouxRenaultJacques LaffiteLigier
1982Nelson PiquetBrabhamElio de AngelisLotus
1983Patrick TambayFerrariAlain ProstRenault
1984Nelson PiquetBrabhamNiki LaudaMcLaren
1985Alain ProstMcLarenAlain ProstMcLaren
1986Teo FabiBenettonAlain ProstMcLaren
1987Nelson PiquetWilliamsNigel MansellWilliams
1997Jacques VilleneuveWilliamsJacques VilleneuveWilliams
1998Giancarlo FisichellaBenettonMika HäkkinenMcLaren
1999Mika HäkkinenMcLarenEddie IrvineFerrari
2000Mika HäkkinenMcLarenMika HäkkinenMcLaren
2001Michael SchumacherFerrariDavid CoulthardMcLaren
2002Rubens BarrichelloFerrariMichael SchumacherFerrari
2003Michael SchumacherFerrariMichael SchumacherFerrari
2014Felipe MassaWilliamsNico RosbergMercedes
2015Lewis HamiltonMercedesNico RosbergMercedes
2016Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2017Valtteri BottasMercedesValtteri BottasMercedes
2018Valtteri BottasMercedesMax VerstappenRed Bull
2019Charles LeclercFerrariMax VerstappenRed Bull
2020 AustriaValtteri BottasMercedesValtteri BottasMercedes
2020 StyriaLewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes