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Austrian Grand Prix to return to F1 calendar - July 23, 2013 by admin

”]the 2002 Austrian Grand PrixMany younger F1 fans may not realise the importance of Austria to Formula One but with a long history of the Austrian Grand Prix (first staged as a championship race in 1964) and for many years at the iconic Österreichring) and with Austrian former World Champions Jochen Rindt and Niki Lauda as well as other Austrian drivers like Jo Siffert and Gerhard Berger amongst the sports greats: many believe that Austria deserves to have a place on the calendar almost as much as other noticeable absentee France.



Well it seems that we may not have to wait much longer with the running of the Austrian Grand Prix set for the 6th of July 2014. The Österreichring circuit may be gone but it has evolved, via the A1 Ring, into the modern Red-Bull Ring, owned by Dietrich Mateschitz’s soft drink company who of course also own the Red Bull and Toro Rosso teams.


Often we hear rumours of Formula One moving to a circuit before negotiations have even begun in earnest, often the rumours are put out by the circuit owners to garner support. With the Red Bull Ring though there were few if any mentions that this was on the cards but the team behind the negotiations have today announced that the agreement is all but completed it seems.


The last time the Austrian Grand Prix was run was in 2003 at the A1 Ring, the circuit though needed modernisation and a track extension was planned. However it wasn’t until Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz decided his company should buy the A1 Ring circuit and took the decision to invest in it heavily that re-development really began in earnest with the circuit reopening in 2011.


The FIA still need to confirm the agreement at the next World Motorsport Council meeting but it seems from Red Bull’s announcement this morning that the vital agreement between the circuit and Bernie Ecclestone has been completed. Any problems now would probably only be due to concerns about the safety of the circuit but it is already used for top level FIA sanctioned motorsport and was redeveloped with Formula One Racing in mind.


The Austrian Grand Prix had been mentioned as a replacement this year for the postponed New Jersey Grand Prix but this idea never came to fruition. Whether the agreement now is to fill the gap the New Jersey Grand Prix will leave if it is cancelled, is unclear. The addition of a new race to the calender though will raise questions about the New Jersey race, which many believe is now unlikely to go ahead: especially as it would seem otherwise another race would need to be removed in order to fit in the Austrian race as there are already likely to be 20 races next year prior to the Austrian race being added.


 

Trying to finalise the 2013 Formula One Calendar, - February 2, 2013 by admin
Massa testing at Portimao, photo by Víctor J. Tornet

Massa testing at the Algarve International Circuit at Portimao, photo by Víctor J. Tornet

It seems the German Grand Prix will in fact not be at the Nurburgring in 2013 and the vacant European race might be filled by Portugal, though a French Grand Prix is still a possibility.

 

First to the vacant European race, A French race has long seemed most likely but a Turkish race at Istanbul Park or Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring have also been suggested, now a Portuguese Grand Prix (which would be the first since 1996) is being suggested as a possibility by Bernie Ecclestone.

 

Portugal’s Algarve region have a shiny, nearly, new circuit at Portimao. The Algarve International Circuit was homologated by the FIA in 2008 and was used for testing in in 2010. The circuit has also hosted events such as A1 GP in 2008 and Superbikes so has facilities for fans. In fact in 2009 then FIA President Max Mosley said he could see no reason why the Circuit couldn’t host F1 if an agreement was made with Formula One Management. Now Bernie has said the Portuguese are showing interest in hosting a race to fill this one off vacant European GP slot, created by the delay to the Port Imperial circuit in New Jersey.

 

It seems Austria isn’t an option as a replacement though, even though some had suggested Red Bull might finance the race at their Red Bull Ring circuit, formerly the A1 ring and the Osterreichring Bernie Ecclestone has suggested it is unlikely. He doesn’t think it could replace the German Grand Prix either it seems, based on an interview given by Mr Ecclestone last week in Austria.

 

Since then though Mr Ecclestone has confirmed that negotiations with the Nurburgring for this year’s German Grand Prix have ceased.

The Nurburgring, few F1 fans want to see the circuit lost to the sport, Photo by marc-john

The Nurburgring, few F1 fans want to see the circuit lost to the sport, Photo by marc-john

The circuit is in serious financial trouble and may soon need to seek Bankruptcy protection, this opens the potential for it to be sold but the circuit may be off the calender for at least a few years.

Those running the Hockenheimring have said they are willing and ready to host the race this year if they need to. Long term though they may find that hosting the German Grand Prix every year is unviable financially; both the Nurburgring and Hockenheim did seem to find their arrangement to host the race in alternate years as a good solution.

You might have thought then that a new deal where Hockenheim and the Red Bull Ring alternate might have been ideal but it seems not. With increasing pressure on European circuits though and Bernie Ecclestone looking to cut Grand Prix it could be that a circuit such as the Hungaroring might see alternating with Hockenheim as the only way to keep a Grand Prix long term.

With the start of the 2013 season only just over a month away though it seems that the season could well start with an unfinalised calender.

France, Turkey and now Austria could fill in 2013 calender gap - December 9, 2012 by admin

,”]th 2002 Austrian Grand Prix An Austrian Grand Prix is the latest potential one off race that could be slotted into the 2013 calendar to make up for the cancelled New Jersey Grand Prix of America which should now take place for the first time in 2014.
Initially the French Grand Prix seemed the most likely to fill the gap, which could if successful lead to a permanent place on the calender either at Paul Ricard or Magny Cours. A clash with the Le Mans  24 hours though on the weekend that the Grand Prix America would have taken place made it look like the French Grand Prix would be unviable. Changes to the calender though have now been made possible for a European race to take place in the three week gap before the German Grand Prix which has been moved to the 7th of July.

All that has been confirmed is that this gap will have a European race slotted in, which could include a Turkish Grand Prix, this is a better solution wherever the race is held as if the race had taken place on the weekend after the Canadian Grand Prix, where the New Jersey race was set to take place, then it would have been tough for teams to get from Montreal to Europe in the two days between finishing the Canadian Grand Prix and being set up again to race in Europe.

The gap being made shows Bernie Ecclestone’s determination to make 2013 another 20 race season and he initially backed a French

istanbul pit straight

Istanbul Park Pit Straight Photo Courtesy of Ph-Stop

Grand Prix, which is still a possibility. The Turkish Government though have said it is up to them whether a race happens at Istanbul Park as the funding is not forthcoming but the Turkish Government have since said they wouldn’t fund a race, meaning a 2013 Turkish Grand Prix could still happen if funding is found elsewhere but is less likely. Istanbul Park is a popular circuit with teams and with fans, although seemingly not local fans who failed to fill the stands in the past.

So now the only other circuit that looked like it might have the  setup in place to host a race in 2013, the Red Bull Ring, formerly the A1 Ring, has thrown its hat into the err…. ring. The circuit at Spielberg hasn’t hosted F1 since 2003 but Dietrich Materschitz has invested heavily in the circuit to bring it up to modern standards and bringing back an Austrian Grand Prix to the circuit, potentially alternating with another circuit, has been on the cards for a year or two now, the circuit reopened in early 2011, with little progress. Funding for the race could potentially come from Red Bull as well though and with F2 at the circuit in 2012 it has been put through its paces with top quality motorsport.

The four circuits in question could all provide good races and European F1 fans will be happy to see an extra race on the continent that has been losing races over the last few years with 2013 otherwise set to have the least World Championship F1 races, 7,  since 1969 when there were 7 European races but of a total of 11 Grand Prix .

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