F1 now moves onto the second leg of its first-ever triple header, the sport heading to Austria’s Styrian mountains and a classic track revitalised in the Red Bull Ring.
And as a home race for the energy drinks brand, the event is transformed into a massive motorsport festival incorporating music, racing and historic demonstrations like this year’s legend’s parade featuring famous Austrian icons like Gerhard Berger and Niki Lauda.
Austria has been part of the F1 World Championship since 1964, with the sport first hosted at Zeltweg Airfield before moving onto the Österreichring and a shortened A1 Ring layout from 1997 to 2003.
Three years later, a 70 million Euro refurbishment paved the way for F1’s return to the region in 2014, the opening season of the hybrid era.
Located 200 kilometres from Vienna, the 4.318-kilometre circuit has just 10 turns, three left and seven right, for a top speed of 322 kilometres an hour. Lewis Hamilton reset the lap record for Mercedes last year. And there are now three DRS activation zones: one between turns three and four, one on the main pit straight and a new one between turns one and two.
But while the entire lap lasts for just under 90 seconds, that doesn’t reduce the technical challenge for the drivers…
SOUNDBITE (English) DANIEL RICCIARDO,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
"The track, although short, it is quite fun. It's fast, it's flowing and because the lap times are really short, it's like one mistake can make quite a big difference with where you are on the grid, so it's pretty intense."
Since F1’s return to the track in 2014, Mercedes has dominated with four wins from four visits. Overall in Austria, Alain Prost is the most successful with three wins, while five drivers have two.
Last year saw Silver Arrows racer Valtteri Bottas take his second of three wins for the season, pushed all the way by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
… while 2016’s edition saw Nico Rosberg chased down by his teammate Lewis Hamilton, the pair clashing on the final lap, with the Brit passing for the lead and win, and Rosberg limping home for fourth.
High altitude, and high speed. F1 engines again bring the sound of music to Austria with fans bullish for another thrilling race.