Austria’s Styrian region is generally a peaceful place, with locals enjoying the fresh mountain air and slower pace of life. That is, until you get to the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, where the silence is shattered by the howling screams of racing engines.
The fast and furious track remains a classic, having once formed a part of the fearsome old Österreichring…
…which was the second Austrian venue after one-off host Zeltweg Airfield, the race there from 1970 to 1987, before a shortened A1 Ring layout that hosted the Grand Prix 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. Kimi Räikkönen reset the lap record for Ferrari last year. And there are three DRS activation zones: one between turns one and three, another between turns three and four, and one on the main pit straight.
In the hybrid era, Mercedes has dominated with four of the five wins, with Max Verstappen triumphant at Red Bull’s home event last year - following a strategy blunder and double DNF from the Silver Arrows.
Overall, it’s French icon Alain Prost on top in Austria with three wins, and five drivers on two wins… Ronnie Peterson, Alan Jones, Mika Häkkinen, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg.
But the focus this year will be on the late, great Austrian Niki Lauda, who passed away before Monaco, after a period of ill-health. He was just 70.
An icon of the sport, Lauda secured not just three F1 World titles, two for Ferrari, but also his home race in 1984 with McLaren.
Lauda is one of just two Austrian F1 World Champions, Jochen Rindt the other. His 1970 title the only one in history to be awarded posthumously.
The Austrian’s last win, the German GP, his fifth of the campaign, before he was killed during practice at the next event at Monza.
Austrian champions gone, but not forgotten, as the hills again come alive to the sound of Formula 1…