Start, Osterreichring, 1987

Start shots: Austrian Grand Prix

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Starts were a problem when the Red Bull Ring was called the Osterreichring. The start was red-flagged twice at the last race on the original circuit.

Since F1’s return to the A1-Ring – now the Red Bull Ring – they have been much more orderly. But Lewis Hamilton impressed last year by making up five places on the first lap.


Start, Osterreichring, 1982

The narrow start/finish straight on the original Osterreichring became a frequent scene of first-lap collisions. In 1982 Andrea de Cesaris wiped out his Alfa Romeo team mate Bruno Giacomelli, and Derek Daly’s Williams was also eliminated.

At a track which rewarded pure power, Nelson Piquet led the turbocharged Brabham-BMWs, Renaults and sole Ferrari of Patrick Tambay at the start. But one by one they were struck by mechanical gremlins, leaving Elio de Angelis in the black-and-gold Lotus to pip Keke Rosberg to the line by five-hundredths of a second.


Start, Osterreichring, 1987

The Osterreiching bowed out of Formula One five years later, by which time the shortcomings of the track had become painfully apparent. It took three attempts to get the final race started after two first-lap collisions, one of which completely blocked the grid.


Start, A1-Ring, 2001

There was lap one trouble of a different type in 2001, the fifth year on which the race was held on the heavily revised and shortened circuit, now named the A1-Ring. Following the reintroduction of launch control four drivers failed to get away at the start: Nick Heidfeld’s Sauber, Mika Hakkinen’s McLaren and the two Jordans of Jarno Trulli and Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

Pole sitter Michael Schumacher was out-dragged to turn one by the two Williams-BMW drivers, but it was David Coulthard who won the race for McLaren.

Start, A1-Ring, 2001


Start, A1-Ring, 2002

The 2002 race is better remembered for how it finished than how it started, as Rubens Barrichello gave up victory to Schumacher within sight of the flag.

Barichello had held his lead from pole position at the start while Schumacher passed his brother for third and Heidfeld’s Sauber slotted in behind him. But once again some drivers struggled to get away at all. This time it was back row occupants Minardi, though both Mark Webber and Alex Yoong eventually got going.

Start, A1-Ring, 2002


Start, A1-Ring, 2003

F1 said goodbye to Austria again after the 2003 race. In an orderly getaway, Schumacher led the field to turn one while Juan Pablo Montoya moved up to second place at the expense of Kimi Raikkonen.


Start, Red Bull Ring, 2014

F1 returned to Austria last year to a track which was unchanged in all but name – it’s now called the Red Bull Ring. This race was also the last time anything other than a Mercedes started from pole position. Williams locked out the front row, and although Nico Rosberg split them at turn one Valtteri Bottas reasserted himself as they climbed to turn two.

But the other W05 made gains that stuck – having started from ninth on the grid Lewis Hamilton completed lap one in fourth position – Rosberg must have been depressed to see his team mate appear behind him so quickly.

Start, Red Bull Ring, 2014

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  • 22 comments on “Start shots: Austrian Grand Prix”

    1. 1986 – A big hello to kerbs that encouraged the drivers to stay on the track. Oh how i miss you…

      1. 1987 then…. oops. Still love those kerbs.

    2. Could this be the track that will once again refuse Mercedes a 100% pole record?

    3. Why was launch control reintroduced in the middle of the 2001 season? I honestly can’t think of a single reason why anyone thought it was a good idea.

      1. IIRC it was (partly) because the FIA could not control nor supervise the use of electronic driver aids properly, so they just gave up and allowed the use of TC.

    4. In the 2003 picture, the field looks rather sparse. I remember that race fonddly though, as Michael Schumacher won despite his car catching fire during a pitstop. A far better way to win than he did 12 months prior.

      1. Well, you have to remember that there were only 10 teams competing at the time, so the field was already relatively small to begin with. Then, on top of that, Frentzen had a clutch failure and was unable to take the restart, whilst Webber and Alonso had to start from the pit lane after encountering mechanical issues – hence the relatively small grid in that photo.

    5. FlyingLobster27
      16th June 2015, 17:56

      I’m probably deep in a minority here, but I love the cars of 1982. By then, I think the ground-effect designs had become quite elegant, and efficient to the point they were running without front wings, which gives the cars a really singular look.
      The season was mighty competitive too, the balance between turbo & atmo engines was probably just right that year. It deserved to be one of the best ever F1 seasons, if it hadn’t been for the politics, and the horrific loss of life and limb.

    6. I love that second 2002 shot! Sums up Alex Yoong’s F1 career nicely.

    7. Interesting. That shot from 1982 made me think of something important: No front wings.

      I went back and looked at data on overtaking and found that it averaged over 40 passes per GP during 1980-1985. Starting in 1986, the wings became bigger and then progressively more complex every year as passing went into a steep…and steady decline. By 1995, we were down to about 10 overtakes per GP and it stayed that way until 2010 when DRS was introduced.

      DRS was introduced to counter the most obvious problem in F1 that NOBODY will address. Those huge, complex front wings stop real racing and give us processions with no overtaking. We don’t need DRS, we need to get rid of those damn front wings and use underbody tunnels for downforce.

      Why is everyone ignoring this? We all hate DRS and we all hate processional races. So fix it!

      1. Oh, and I haven’t found any data on earlier years, before 1980 yet. But I’ll find it.

      2. Those cars had no front wings because the ground effect technology of the time, with the wing shaped underbodies generated so much downforce that front wings just weren’t necessary- all they really did was add weight to the car. Of course, those times were simpler and aerodynamics weren’t nearly as well understood then as it is today.

      3. And also, those ground effect cars weren’t all that safe, either- back then, there were no rules governing where the drivers had to sit, so all of the cars were designed in such a way where the drivers were seated way in front, with their legs and feet jammed up against the nose of the car; leaving their lower limbs dangerously exposed, with only aluminum sheets protecting them. Carbon fiber was in the process of being introduced at this time up until 1985 when all teams were using carbon fiber tubs.

      4. @daved, I think that you are potentially conflating multiple things and oversimplifying the situation.

        The regulations concerning the wings did not change significantly during that period – in fact, in the early 1990’s the regulations actually slightly reduced the size of the front wings, yet your data would seem to suggest that lead to a reduction in passing moves.

        Part of the issue is that, in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, you also had a progressive increase in field spread too, which was particularly exaggerated in the early 1990’s when the larger teams could afford to bolt on significantly more driver aids onto their cars than the smaller teams. I would say that was a far stronger cause of the decline in passing, since you create a situation where teams were more likely to simply line up in order during qualifying and then drive off into the distance.

        1. anon,
          Yes, I know I’m vastly over simplifying, but there is a correlation and as I said below, people who do this for a living have said that the front wings are to blame and that underbody tunnels, etc are the right direction.
          Yes, there was a slight reduction in wing size in the early 90’s, but that doesn’t stop them from making the wings more complex as the genie was out of the bottle and they were putting work into the design of those front wings by that point.
          Yes, the driver aids (and many other factors) influenced things. But they also banned many of the driver aids yet that didn’t stop the decline in overtaking. And these days, the “driver aids” are the same on all cars, yet non-DRS passing is still down around 10-12 per race.
          WEC has an incredible ability to pass, even at the front where the cars are evenly matched. I would say that is because they are not dependent on front wings for their downforce, but I completely admit that is my speculation as I’ve seen zero data on the subject.

      5. 2010 saw the ban of refuelling, while 2011 was when DRS was introduced.

        1. Ahhh, good point. I was off by a year. But interestingly enough, the data shows that overtaking went from ~10/GP to ~20/GP in 2010 with the ban of refueling…then jumped to 60/GP when DRS came on the scene in 2011!

          I’d like to see them do some research on the subject. They put together the OWG and it would not be hard to simply put on simple front wings and see if close following on corners became easier. Why do they not try this?

          Anyway, thanks to all you guys who responded. I simply wanted a sounding board to see if I was crazy :)

      6. Thanks for the comments, folks! I’ve been trying to get someone to at least engage the debate for a while now and nobody seemed interested.
        The main point is that the front wings are too complex, costly and clearly impact the ability of cars to follow each other and overtake. People much smarter than me have made these same points including Gary Anderson over at Autosport and Craig Scarborough who shows up as a technical expert in many forums/blogs/sites. They have called for much simpler and smaller front wings and more underbody tunnels because they are not as sensitive to dirty air.

        @mfreire – Yes, the aero was not as well understood and much simpler then. I have no problem with that as I’d rather see wider tyres and more mechanical grip anyway. That combined with the simpler aero would allow for closer following and more overtaking. As for the safety, that was definitely a problem then but as you said, that was down to the lack of safety standards of the period.

        1. Yes, I agree; I honestly think that the mechanical and aerodynamic should be balanced out at 50/50- but of course, F1 is as much about technology as it is about racing; so the aerodynamics should be allowed to developed but ultimately limit how much aero plays a part in a car’s performance; not like it is today where aero makes up about 75-80% (if not more) of a car’s grip.

    8. The stupid thing about the old Osterreichring, and 1987 in particular- is there was ample space on the left to widen that pit straight. Maybe it then could have been retained, or at least have some of the really fast corners made a bit slower so its original character could have been retained. But the Osterreichring, along with the Nurburgring and Spa, is the most spectacular of all the European GP circuits ever used for F1.

      1. I also would include Brands Hatch and the original Charade circuit in that.

    9. That 1982 photo might be a bit misleading. There are a few front wings there, some are just on the barrier (!) also I remember looking at photos from that season that front wings were sometimes used. It’s a bit vague if the Ferrari 126s have them on, not sure if that black vertical shape is the front suspension struts or the front wing.

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