Motorsport: Austria to host F1 race in 2014

Formula One racing is set for a return to Austria in 2014 after an 11-year break. Photo/Getty.
Formula One racing is set for a return to Austria in 2014 after an 11-year break. Photo/Getty.

Formula One racing is set for a return to Austria in 2014 after an 11-year break.

The Austrian Grand Prix has been provisionally scheduled for July 6 in Spielberg after Red Bull team officials spoke with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

"(Red Bull owner) Dietrich Mateschitz and Bernie Ecclestone have reached an agreement to bring back Formula One racing to (the province of) Styria," the Austrian-based company behind the F1 team said Tuesday.

F1's governing body, FIA, didn't immediately answer a request for comment but is expected to announce the 2014 calendar in September. According to Red Bull, the race in Austria is pending approval from local authorities.

Mateschitz, who grew up in Styria, said "it's very special to me" to see F1 again on his company-owned circuit.

"We have not only rejuvenated the circuit, but we have been able to get back motor sport's marquee event," Mateschitz told the Austria Press Agency.

Spielberg also hosted the race from 1997-2003, with Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher winning the last two. The track has been slightly modified since to improve safety.

Five years after the last race in 2003, Red Bull reportedly invested 200 million euros ($260 million) in the track and surrounding infrastructure in a bid to return to the F1 calendar.

The circuit received a F1 license in May 2011 but has since only staged events for the DTM touring car series.

Three-time F1 world champion Niki Lauda, who won his home grand prix in 1984, described the imminent return of the series to Austria as "an enormous joy."

"I've always hoped the Formula One would come back some day. This means a lot to me," Lauda told APA. "It's a new impetus, especially for the region ... Formula One is the crown on (Mateschitz') work."

Austria has hosted 26 races since 1964 on different circuits, with Alain Prost winning a record three times.

Until 1987, the races were held in nearby Zeltweg before Austria first disappeared from the calendar for 10 years.

Austria's most notorious race took place in 2002, when leader Rubens Barrichello obeyed Ferrari team orders to slow down and allow teammate Schumacher to cross the line first. Schumacher led the standings and was on his way to the fifth of seven world titles.

-AP

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