A Formula 1 race at the Red Bull Ring is a surprise package which rewards or punishes drivers and teams in new and unexpected ways each year, but one way or another, it will surprise them. There may be favourites here, but only on paper, and the races usually go differently than planned, but at least they are guaranteed to be exciting. Last year, Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc gate-crashed the Verstappen party. What can fans look forward to this weekend? Here are some of the features of the Red Bull Ring that make it so special:
The first corner is one of the trickiest on the F1 racing calendar. The distance to the tight 90-degree turn is 245.5 metres (measured from pole position), but the width of the home straight at the entrance to the corner and the wide run-off zone tempt drivers into risky manoeuvres. Want an example? In 2017, Daniil Kvyat made an over-optimistic move on Fernando Alonso, shunting him into Max Verstappen’s RB13 which then went into a spin.
The Spielberg track is temperamental. In 2019 it was in a very good mood, allowing all 20 of the drivers who started the race to go through to the finish. A year later, the circuit was less forgiving, with only 13 of the contestants seeing the chequered flag. A quick check of the record books shows that safety car deployments are to be expected at the Red Bull Ring – the probability that Bernd Mayländer will have to intervene this weekend is about 50 per cent. If the weather is inclement on Sunday, the chances of seeing a safety car will increase.
The Red Bull Ring ranks among the tracks with character. The three left-hand and seven right-hand corners will demand total concentration from Verstappen and his opponents. Especially in the high-speed sections, small mistakes are mercilessly punished. From spins to take-offs and pile-ups, this track has the lot. And as if that wasn’t enough to generate excitement, the 4.3km circuit has three DRS zones.
Historic firsts are a frequent occurrence at the Red Bull Ring. In 2020, McLaren driver Lando Norris celebrated a maiden podium. The previous year, Oracle Red Bull Racing registered their first win with a Honda engine in the rear. In 2018, the Austrian GP was the first race of the season in which neither Mercedes driver made it onto the podium (in total, there were only two podium finishes without Mercedes representation). In 2016, Max Verstappen took second place for the first time in his career. Valtteri Bottas claimed the first Top Three finish of his F1 career in the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix.
In short, the Red Bull Ring is unique – much to the delight of the thousands of motorsport fans who make their way here each year, relishing the prospect of an exciting F1 weekend.