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F1 is back & Austria’s ever-changing circuit is the perfect place to start

Formula One in 2020 is just about to get back to business after threatening to begin in Australia in March.

With all the teams, drivers, sponsors and even fans ready for action at the iconic Melbourne circuit, the plug was pulled hours before Formula One was set to turn a wheel (which turned out to be the correct decision) but four months later, we will finally get to see the ten teams taking to the track in anger.

Europe is the destination for the resumption and Austria’s Red Bull Ring in particular and as one may suspect, Britain's Lewis Hamilton is the favourite with Betway at 15/8 as of the 1st July to make a winning start to the campaign.

Of all the venues in the world, the return to Austria is a fitting one as although the circuit has now adopted the name of its current owners Red Bull, there is plenty more than meets the eye to this circuit that makes it one of the great racing circuits on the F1 calendar today.

The early history

Located in the rolling hills just outside the small city of Spielberg in the region of Styria in the southeast of Austria, those of you reading this may well remember the days when the circuit was known as the Österreichring as it was named when it was built in 1969.

The Österreichring was built to replace the rather bland Zeltweg Airfield circuit which boasted just four official corners with a lap record time of 1:04.820 set by Joe Siffert.

Red Bull Ring

The airbase is still there today and is the venue of the AirPower show and since then Red Bull air races.

However, the Österreichring was created to give a more challenging experience for racers across the world and a year after it was built, it hosted its first ever Formula One World Championship event.

Ferrari’s Jacky Ickx took the chequered flag after an hour and forty-two minutes behind the wheel during the circuits debut F1 race with the track proving popular with drivers for its fast sweeping curves and powerful straights.

A1 Ring

The tight nature of the Österreichring led to many safety concerns and in 1995, the circuit in its original state hosted its final Formula One race.

The following year, the circuit had a new name and a new look, The A1 Ring with the circuit shortened from its original 5.942 kilometres to 4.326 kilometres and the ultra-fast sweeping fast corners replaced by tighter turns to slow the track down.

The reason for the name change was due to mobile phone provider A1 contributing to most of the constructions costs although many die-hards still referred to the track as the Österreichring. Some still miss that old track but things have changed down the years.

The circuit was still well-regarded despite its shorter length, and lower average speeds and in 2002, one of F1’s more controversial stories took place.

Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher driving the incredible Ferrari F2002 were battling with Williams for the title when Austria rolled around and Rubens put his F2002 on pole with Schumacher third.

By the end of the first lap Ferrari were running first and second with Barrichello setting fastest lap after fastest lap.

However, on the final time around, Ferrari ordered Rubens to let Schumacher through for the good of the driver standings which he duly obeyed and Schumacher took the chequered flag.

On the podium, Schumacher swapped places with Barrichello, but it was not enough to stop fans booing their disappointment and anger at the use of team orders.

2011 - present

2003 saw the final time the A1 Ring hosted Formula One but in 2011, Red Bull purchased the site with the intention of getting the circuit back on the calendar.

In 2013, it was reported that Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone had reached an agreement to host Formula One in 2014 and that is exactly what happened with the circuit returning to the F1 calendar after an eleven-year hiatus.

Since then, the circuit has become a major player in Motorsport also hosted the Moto GP as well as a Red Bull air race event.

Now, the circuit has the honour of getting the 2020 season back underway with back to back F1 races on the 5th and 12th of July and we are sure there can be few doubts that the Österreichring, A1 Ring, Red Bull Circuit or whatever you would like to call it is a more than deserved place to begin.

All eyes will be on Austria this weekend.