Ahead of the 2017 Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, let’s take a look at our favourite Austrian Grand Prix.
The turbocharged Brabham BMW’s locked out the front row and led from the start. Further back, Andrea de Cesaris in the Alfa Romeo managed to veer across and the track and side swipe his team-mate Bruno Giacomelli.
Brabham’s master plan of mid race refuelling finally came to fruition when Nelson Piquet and Riccardo Patrese both completed their stops. Patrese held the lead but his engine failed and then Piquet retired with an electrical failure.
On Lap 49 Alain Prost’s Renault engine failed. The fight for first became a battle of the normally-aspirated engines as Elio de Angelis’ Lotus led Keke Rosberg’s Williams. It was the Italian that just held on, winning by 0.050 seconds.
It was the final victory for the Lotus team under the management of the legendary Colin Chapman who died in December that year.
Ten years after the last Austrian Grand Prix, F1 made its return on a revised circuit, named the A1-Ring.
Jacques Villeneuve qualified on pole but lost the lead to Mika Hakkinen. But it was too good to be true for the Finn as his McLaren’s Mercedes engine failed yet again at the end of the first lap. This left the Prost car of the young Italian Jarno Trulli in the lead.
The most extraordinary incident of the race occurred on Lap 37 when Jean Alesi and Eddie Irvine collided and the Frenchman’s Benetton flew over the Ferrari. Alesi was vocal in his criticism of Irvine despite the fact he had tried to outbrake him from eight car lengths behind.
Villeneuve was determined to make up for his start and took back the lead during the stops. Trulli was still running as high as second until his Mugen Honda engine packed up after 58 laps.
Michael Schumacher’s race was compromised when he received a 10-second stop go penalty for overtaking Heinz-Harald Frentzen under waved yellow flags. He salvaged something from the race by passing Damon Hill for sixth. But it was Jacques Villeneuve’s day.
McLaren could have been forgiven for thinking they would have left Austria with a one-two finish, and Mika Hakkinen with a healthy lead in the World Championship, especially given Michael Schumacher’s absence following his accident at Silverstone. What happened during the race left them stunned.
Going into Remus second placed David Coulthard made an overly ambitious move on Hakkinen and they collided, sending the Finn to last place. Hakkinen embarked on an astounding comeback drive, pulling off some daring overtaking manoeuvres, not least on Heinz-Harald Frentzen for fourth place.
At the front Coulthard led but Ferrari’s Eddie Irvine had other ideas. When the Scot headed into the pits Irvine mirrored the kind of strategy used by Schumacher by setting blistering lap times and emerging from his stop in first place.
Hakkinen meanwhile made it back into the podium positions by overtaking Rubens Barrichello in the Stewart.
Coulthard pressured Irvine but the Ulsterman held his nerve. He took his second career victory putting him just two points behind Hakkinen in the fight for the title and establishing himself as the man to lead Ferrari’s charge.
The A1-Ring provided one of the most controversial races in 2001. At the start, four drivers failed to leave the grid, Heinz-Harald Frentzen’s gearbox was jammed, while the much criticised launch control system proved troublesome for Trulli, Heidfeld and Hakkinen.
Both the Williams had jumped Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari at the start and Juan Pablo Montoya was in the lead, but the Michelin tyres quickly began to fade.
Montoya held off a train of five cars until Schumacher tried a move round the outside, the Colombian fought valiantly but sacrificed his race when he outbraked himself taking them both off the track. The German was able to recover but Montoya retired soon after with a hydraulic failure.
At the sole round of pit stops, Coulthard leapfrogged Rubens Barrichello, but struggling to maintain the pace in the closing stages, allowing both Ferraris to close. The Brazilian was ordered to let Schumacher past for second place, which he did on the very last corner.
Coulthard took his second win of the season ahead of the Ferrari’s and the Sauber of a young Kimi Raikkonen.
A wet qualifying left an unusual grid order. Nothing strange about Lewis Hamilton starting from pole, but it was Nico Hulkenberg joining him on the front row and Jenson Button’s McLaren Honda in third.
Rosberg started sixth after a gearbox change but quickly worked his way back up, taking an early pitstop for softs. Fellow German Sebastian Vettel briefly led but his tyre exploded on Lap 27, bringing out the safety car. Rosberg led after Hamilton and Raikkonen pitted.
It was a battle between the two Silver Arrows right down to the last lap. Rosberg began to struggle with his brakes as Hamilton got ever closer. On the final lap the German made a mistake in the first corner, giving Hamilton a run.
He made a move on the outside but Rosberg turned in late and the two collided. Rosberg’s wing was damaged and he dropped to fourth, allowing Hamilton through to take victory and gain 11 points on Rosberg in the championship.