F1 Set To Return To Austria's Red Bull Ring In 2014 If Necessary Approvals Are Given
F1 "will return to Austria in the upcoming season," according to Sven Haidinger of MOTORSPORT TOTAL. Red Bull made the ''unexpected announcement" via press release on Tuesday, and a Red Bull Ring spokesperson "confirmed it." The same is true for the date, as the race will take place at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg on July 6. The press release said, "[Red Bull Owner] Dietrich Mateschitz and [F1 CEO] Bernie Ecclestone have reached an agreement that will bring back Formula 1 to Styria next year." Final approval, however, "is still missing as there are strict environmental regulations since the track's remodeling that have to be fulfilled." Therefore, Red Bull stated that "all necessary regulatory approvals" have to be issued. There were speculations that Austria "would replace the canceled Grand Prix of America in New Jersey ahead of this season." Ecclestone refused this proposal and said, "The track is great, the people are very nice, it's a pleasure to work with them, but there are not enough hotel rooms in the region. That's a problem" (MOTORSPORT TOTAL, 7/23). The KURIER reported the return of the Austrian Grand Prix "hints toward an increase in number of races on the F1 calendar." The current F1 season consists of 19 races. In addition to the Austrian race, "the debuts of the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi and the Grand Prix of America in New Jersey are planned" for '14. Ecclestone said in the past that "he can image 21 grand prix per year" (KURIER, 7/23). BLOOMBERG's Boris Groendahl wrote Mateschitz bough the circuit in '04 and reopened it in '11 "after the track was redesigned and rebuilt." It has since hosted the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) and Formula Two races. Former Austrian F1 champion Niki Lauda said, "That’s the best that could happen to us. This global publicity for Austria is priceless. I always hoped Formula One would return. That it really does is only Mr. Mateschitz’s success. It’s a great joy and it means a lot to me, all of Austria should salute that" (BLOOMBERG, 7/23). The AP reported Austria "has hosted 26 races since 1964 on different circuits, with Alain Prost winning a record three times." Until '87, the races "were held in nearby Zeltweg before Austria first disappeared from the calendar." Spielberg hosted the race from 1997-2003, with Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher "winning the last two" (AP, 7/23). REUTERS' Georgina Prodhan reported "Mateschitz, who founded Red Bull with two Thai partners in 1984, is one of Austria's richest people," with a net worth of $7.1B, according to Forbes (REUTERS, 7/23).
HOLD YOUR HORSES: ÖSTERREICH reported "not everyone in Spielberg is cheering." Resident Ombudsman Karl Arbesser "was surprised and highlighted previously voiced concerns." He said that "he does not know how the Red Bull Ring could host a grand prix under its current regulations." Restrictions in regards to noise and attendance numbers "have to be considered." Currently the Ring has the approval to host a maximum attendance of 40,000 on only 10 days per year. The noise is another issue. At the DTM race, noise was allowed to reach a maximum of 84 dB. Arbesser said that "he could not imagine F1 cars are complying with this number" (ÖSTERREICH, 7/23). MOTORSPORT TOTAL's Haidinger also reported "it is not clear who will pay the millions in grand prix fee." Last year, Red Bull Motorsport Dir Helmut Marko said that his employer would not qualify as a financier. Marko: "It would have to be paid by the government like everywhere else" (MOTORSPORT TOTAL, 7/23).