Why is the Austrian Grand Prix synonymous with speed?

5 minutes

Austria returned to the MotoGP calendar in 2016, providing the fastest circuit in the World Championship, with riders racing at an average speed of more than 180km/h. The track also has the highest altitude, at 677 metres above sea level.

recta de salida del circuito Red Bull Ring en Austria
Why is the Austrian Grand Prix synonymous with speed?

It is the circuit with the highest average speed, at 183.2km/h.

The Red Bull Ring is a circuit located in the town of Spielberg, with around 5,000 inhabitants.

The first international races held in the region took place in 1957 at the Zeltweg military base, just 5 kilometres from the current circuit.

Built in 1969 with a length of 5.91km, the original name of the track was Österreichring, which means “Circuit of Austria.”

In 1996 it was renamed the A1-Ring when telephone provider A1 paid for most of a remodeling process that allowed it to host the World Championship in 1996 and 1997.

Herman Tilke was commissioned to carry out the work. He has also been responsible for MotorLand Aragon, Sepang in Malaysia and the main stand of the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit.

The six races that took place in those two editions (two in 125cc, two in 250cc and two in 500cc) were won by Honda riders.

The 1996 500cc race saw a young Alex Crivillé, in his second season with the Repsol Honda team, snatch victory from Mick Doohan on the final lap.

Red Bull acquired the track in 2010 and made important changes for safety, which allowed it to return to the Formula 1 calendar in 2014 and to MotoGP in 2016.

The Austrian track has the highest altitude of the season. Specifically, it is 677 metres above sea level (second is MotorLand Aragón, 381 metres above sea level).

The difference between the highest and the lowest point of the circuit is 65 metres.

Marc Márquez en Austria compitiendo
Marc Márquez en Austria compitiendo

It is the circuit with the fewest corners on the calendar, with a total of 10.

It is the circuit with the highest average speed, at 183.2km/h. Buriram and Phillip Island are second and third, with 177.9km/h and 176.5km/h, respectively.

Paradoxically, the top speed of the track is among the lowest of the calendar: 316.7km/h, because it has one of the shortest straights (the only shorter straights are found at Assen, Misano and Jerez).

In the season of its return to the World Championship, the Austrian round received the award for Best Grand Prix of the year.

In 2016, the Austrian Grand Prix welcomed 216,000 spectators over the race weekend, the highest attendance of the season.

It has the only press room of any circuit in the series that offers breakfast, lunch and dinner for accredited journalists.

The circuit is open 365 days a year and in winter hosts snow races, such as cross-country skiing, ice skating and snowmobile races.

The enclosure in which the track is located has several tracks inside, for trials, off-road for cars or motorcycles an karting. In addition, it also includes a driving school.

Marc Márquez rodando en Red Bull Ring
Marc Márquez rodando en Red Bull Ring

The first Austrian Grand Prix was held in 1971 at the Salzburgring circuit, which hosted a total of 22 editions.

In that event, Giacomo Agostini won in 500cc by more than a lap from second-placed Keith Turner.

That same day, Agostini also won the 350cc race, while the winners in the other categories were: Silvio Grassetti (MZ) in 250cc, Angel Nieto(Derbi) in 125cc and Jan de Vries (Kreidler) in 50cc.

The last time a Grand Prix took place at Salzburgring was in 1994, with Mick Doohan’s victory in the 500cc race with an average speed above 194km/h.

Due to the high speeds that were reached and for safety reasons, the circuit was considered too dangerous to continue hosting a Grand Prix.

Franco Uncini suffered an accident in the 1977 350cc Austrian GP, and had his life saved thanks to the rapid intervention of the Clinica Mobile, in the first GP in which they began their service.

North American director and producer Steven Spielberg owes his last name to his Hungarian descendants, who lived in the Austrian town in the 17th century.

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