A revived Osterreichring could be glorious

2017 F1 season

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“The best news I’ve probably heard in Formula One for a long time,” was Lewis Hamilton’s reaction to reports part of the old Osterreichring could be revived in 2017.

Before its was dropped from the F1 calendar after 1987 and overhauled by Hermann Tilke for its return a decade later, the home of the Austrian Grand Prix was one of F1’s fastest circuits. In its current incarnation it remains quick by modern standards, but the new layout remains in the shadow of its formidable predecessor.

“They’re going to take a track back to what it should be or what it was previously,” Hamilton enthused. Hopefully he’s right, as F1 is running low on high-speed tracks where the dramatic capabilities of grand prix cars can be fully appreciated.

The ultra-fast Hockenheimring is long gone. And F1 may not stick around after this year to race on Monza’s proposed new, quicker circuit.

The Osterreichring once vied with these names for the title of F1’s fastest circuit. In its current incarnation the Red Bull Ring is the fifth-quickest track in F1. Could the proposed westward expansion onto the old layout make it even faster?

As far as the track layout is concern there are three challenges facing them: how to configure the track were it leaves the current circuit at turn one and rejoins it at turn two, and whether the old Tiroch Kurve – the fast, sweeping right-hander at the northern end of the old loop – can be retained in some form.

Reconstruction work has already been done at the sites of the current turns one and two. Instead of the current right-hander after the start, cars will continue to a slow left/right chicane. This will bring the racing line over to the opposite side of the track. It also means the existing pit exit will have to be altered.

From there it remains to be seen how much of the old 1.6-kilometre stretch of track could be used without further changes being made. The lack of run-off around the outside of Tiroch would surely rule it out. But there is a conveniently tree-less section on the inside of the corner giving an opportunity to re-profile the curve and create more space on the outside.

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Recent trends in track design have also indicated circuit designers are being given more leeway to create corners with less run-off. FIA safety delegate Charlie Whiting said last year run-off areas on some current circuits are larger than they need to be. New developments can take advantage of advances such as asphalt run-off areas, Tec-Pro barriers and SAFER walls.

Reviving part of the Osterreichring would do justice to Red Bull’s reputation for extreme sports. Restoring the high-speed character of the original circuit could make this fine track a truly glorious one.

But if the brief is to extend the circuit out of some misguided view that it is ‘too short’, and their intention is to do so by carving up the last piece of the Osterreichring by building a section which looks like it belong in Sochi, then they shouldn’t bother.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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30 comments on “A revived Osterreichring could be glorious”

  1. I’m thoroughly confused by how some Circuits are ruined for runoff, leaving the Track Is supposed to punish, Kerbs You can’t Drive over outside the Track are dangerous, but then again baku was totally fine?
    Surely It can’t be that hard to just use the old österreichring. Or nordschleife for that matter. And without meddling with the Layout. After Baku, anything goes

    1. @mrboerns: I think that one of the problems with the Nordschleife is lack of access for emergency crews. That and, you know, being completely bonkers ;-)

  2. Also, anyone Else Noticed how graveltraps Kind of helped slowing Cars After Failures as opposed to tarmac up to the wall in Austria?

    1. @mrboerns It also helped to flip them over.

      1. So What? Thats a better way of dissipating Energy than a Wall.

        1. Not, having a car flip and roll over is a far worse way of trying to dissipate energy.

          In the case of colliding with a barrier, you can design both the barrier and the crash structures on the car to dissipate energy in a controlled manner. When the car is rolling, by contrast, you are dissipating energy in an uncontrolled manner and in a way that significantly increases the chances of cranial and spinal injuries – the WEC has seen several drivers in recent years suffer from fractured vertebrae because of cars flipping or rolling after a crash.

      2. Also Nobody rolled in Austria.

    2. Robert (@skylab007)
      6th July 2016, 22:28

      It also allows this to happen:
      This was F3 earlier this year at the Red Bull Ring.

  3. They will probably ruin the circuit with acres of tarmac runoff, just leave the current circuit alone.

    1. I feel the same way. They already ruined Mexico (and many others), and flattened and deburred all the corners. I would rather have the old tarmac to sit there unused, as a reminder of a great corner, and a great track.

  4. UnitedKingdomRacing (@unitedkingdomracing)
    5th July 2016, 13:27

    When they closed the circuit after the 2003 season there where already plans to extend it using the western part but they where slightly different to the old layout. Is it certain that this time we will actually get the old layout and not a strange combination like that?


    1. @unitedkingdomracing Why build the chicane at turn one and then not use it?

  5. It could indeed be glorious, but it’ll most likely be horrible. The current layout isn’t the greatest but it is probably the best we can hope for in the circumstances.

  6. Michael Brown (@)
    5th July 2016, 14:10

    I for one am hoping for the old circuit to return. However, with its high speed turns, I doubt overtaking would increase.

  7. Just a point of note, There not bringing back the old Osterreichring.

    There keeping the current layout & simply using a ‘modified’ version of the old western loop. The circuit will be longer & will be running on more of the Osterreichring but they are not returning to the old layout.

    To be perfectly honest I don’t think the old layout would be especially great for modern F1 cars as 90% or more of it would likely be flat out & while that sounds amazing & would produce crazy speeds it wouldn’t really be much of a challenge for car or driver & wouldn’t produce that much racing.
    Its the same reason they revised Silverstone after 1990, It was getting to the point where most the corners were fairly easy flat & lot of drivers felt it was not much of a challenge anymore so they designed the 1991 changes to challenge the cars/drivers (Interestingly given the modern trend no thought was put into overtaking possibilities because that isn’t how circuits were designed back then).

    1. In some of Red Bull’s original plans for the circuit redesign about 10 years back Tiroch Kurve was going to be redesigned into a chicane-

      1. I quite like that overall layout, but without the Tiroch chicane of course. Keeping turn 2 as a tight corner is important, because the gentle sweeps running up to it allow for a variety of lines for slipstreaming and attacking. As Nico knows only too well, you have to go defensive very early which can compromise you!

  8. If they’re substantially changing Tiroch, then I’d just as soon they leave the track alone — I don’t want to add a bunch of chicanes to a track that currently has none just to include a butchered version of a once spectacular corner.

    If they can find a way to include it and still meet safety standards, then it sounds great.

  9. The lack of run-off around the outside of Tiroch would surely rule it out. But there is a conveniently tree-less section on the inside of the corner giving an opportunity to re-profile the curve and create more space on the outside.

    Or you could just create more run-off on the also conveniently tree-less outside of the current high-speed configuration.


    This will make or break the character – now it’s 3 low-speed turns (T1, T2, T3), 2 medium-speed turns (T5, T9) and 2 high-speed turns (T6, T8). The current Tiroch would make for 3 high speed turns and it’s necessary for a high-speed setup given that the current T1 would be replaced by the equally low-speed first chicane and last I’ve seen the other connection at the current T2 would also incorporate a low-speed chicane.

    I agree that they should only tinker with the Western loop if it brings back some of the old track’s character. If it’s just another Hermanos Rodriguez ‘redesign’ (a poor expression for butchering what remained of a once-great circuit) then they should leave the dormant section alone.

  10. Herman Tilke: The Master Designer of the most boring tracks. Congratulations for ruining F1.

    Hey F1 executives, bring back Brands Hatch, Paul Ricard, South Africa, the historical Suzuka curb, Spa, Tamburello straight…We need them to see some real and men racing action.

    F1 is becoming more and more gay every day.

    P.S. And whoever has the classic and stupid “safety” concerns, i will remind them that after more or less 50 years of racing at Tamburello straight, there were only just 3 accidents. Nelson Piquet, Gerhard Berger and Ayrton Senna.

    1. “F1 is becoming more and more gay every day.”

      Don’t use “gay” as a slur, please.

    2. @keithcollantine this isn’t acceptable. Gay shouldn’t be used as a slur.

      1. Robert (@skylab007)
        6th July 2016, 22:41


        1. Jonathan Parkin
          7th July 2016, 20:18

          I would love to have Paul Ricard back. In fact one of my comments to an article on the BBC F1 pages I included it in my fantasy F1 World Championship. But not in it’s current form though. I don’t mind the chicane halfway down Mistral Straight but the rest of the circuit outside of the track layout is just horrible

  11. I heard a while back that the new/returning section was only going to be a track day thing. I suppose somebody changed their mind. The old circuit is simply terrifyingly brilliant to drive on a sim, so I would not mind seeing it return, even if it is severely altered. Losing the really short lap time would be a bit of a loss though. The current track is one of the few on the calendar which is vastly different from the majority of others, and in my eyes one of Tilke’s better works.

  12. Time to do a “changing circuits” v2 series @keithcollantine !

  13. The current Red Bull Ring (aka A1) is special. It has elevation changes. It isn’t ruined by carpark run off. It isn’t ruined by DRS. The circuit provides overtaking opportunities and the short 4.3km layout keeps the cars close together, and tends to make for better racing (Interlagos is in the same boat). This isn’t a case of a Hockenheim botch job which ruined a beautiful and unique circuit. Yes the old ring was great, but so is the new one. The Red Bull Ring in its current form is fantastic. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Although, this is F1 so..

  14. Gustavo Sobrino
    6th July 2016, 3:58

    If you remember well, at the time when Senna crashed, the outside of that sweeper was concrete, maybe sand or gravel would have helped ayrton… Changed the angle of the car or slow him enough for just another disappointing race of that Williams.

    1. The standard for high-speed high-radius corners is that you either need loads of runoff, or none. With loads of runoff, the cars slow down before hitting the wall. With no runoff, you hit the wall fast, but at a shallow angle. Scary, but usually alright.

      You can further improve on this by having 0 runoff on corner entry, and the wall gradually moving away from the track as you go through the corner, through to the maximum possible runoff on the corner exit. This further improves the angles.

      Senna and Ratzenberger’s crashes would have been less severe with these sorts of configurations. With modern SAFER barriers which maintain their integrity compared to tyre, tecpro or armco, barriers, and are soft compared to concrete , there is no doubt that Tambuerello corner could be reconstructed safely if wanted. I’m less sure about Villeneuve because of a lack of runoff at Tosa by modern standards and the right hand kink followed by a left hand hairpin is inherently a safety hazard in terms of collisions between cars, however an accident like Ratzenberger’s could be protected against.

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