Five of the best: Austria's Formula One legacy

Lauda 1976

In the age of Vettel and Mercedes, Austrian motorsport is firmly in the shadow of neighbouring Germany.

But, until the arrival of Michael Schumacher, Austria was well clear in terms of race wins and world championships. Though not the biggest, the country has always punched well above its weight; think of it as a Teutonic equivalent to Scotland. 

And it's not just drivers: Austria can also lay claim to a historic circuit and a multiple world title-winning Formula One team. Here are five of the best the country has given the sport.


As F1 personalities go they don't get much bigger than Niki Lauda. World champion for Ferrari in 1975, he nearly lost his life in a fiery crash the next year but returned after just two races to fight for his crown. He'd narrowly lose out to James Hunt, but 12 months later he won it back, and in 1984 he secured a third title with McLaren.

He's since run his own airline and worked for several F1 teams, most recently taking up his current position of non-executive chairman at Mercedes. Brash and outspoken, he's often one of the few in the paddock who says exactly what's on his mind. He's also become famous for his tatty red hat, which he has worn - with various sponsors' logos - for past thirty years.


Formula One's first great Austrian, Jochen Rindt's life was cut tragically short just as he was reaching the peak of his powers. Following four successive race wins in the mighty Lotus 72, Rindt was on the brink of the 1970 world title. But at the Italian Grand Prix he suffered a horrific accident at Parabolica corner that cost the 28-year-old his life and extinguished one of the sport's greatest talents.

Such was his points advantage, Rindt still became champion with a race to spare and he remains Formula One's only posthumous title-winner. Having also won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1965, he had packed a great deal into his short life.


Lauda and Rindt's reputations cast a long shadow, but the nation's other F1 star, Gerhard Berger, was never one to let that bother him. The man from Tyrol was something of a contradiction: easy-going and fun out of the car, combative and determined behind the wheel.

During a long career that included spells at Ferrari, McLaren and Benetton he took 10 victories and 48 podiums, becoming a great paddock personality along the way. Berger formed a close friendship with Ayrton Senna, his McLaren team-mate in 1991 and '92, and was one of the few who could bring the fun side out of the ultra-serious Brazilian. He retired from F1 in 1997, going on to take management roles at BMW and the Toro Rosso squad, and now works on restructuring junior single-seater racing for the FIA.


The name may have changed a few times down the years, but the old Österreichring, which later became the A1 Ring and is now the Red Bull Ring, still inhabits the same spot in the mountains of Spielberg. It has hosted 25 of the 26 Austrian Grands Prix in world championship history, first between 1970 and '87 and then from 1997 through 2003. In 2014 it returns, a rare example of a European circuit that has found its way back on to the calendar.

Though the venue has been through several changes over the years it remains a fast circuit with plenty of elevations changes and picturesque scenery. Followers of F1 are almost unanimously agreed that losing Korea and returning to Austria is very good news.


Like them or not as a race team, you cannot deny that Red Bull have put a lot into F1. Dietrich Mateschitz's company first appeared as a sponsor for the Sauber team the mid-90s with their bright corporate logo fitting beautifully on to the air box of an F1 car.

After a few aborted starts Mateschitz finally bought a team of his own in 2004, snapping up the ailing Jaguar squad and transforming it into the F1 behemoth we know today. Key to this was hiring Adrian Newey in late 2005. By 2009 his genius had borne fruit, with Red Bull protege Sebastian Vettel taking the team's maiden win in China. They've since won four drivers' and constructors' world titles and took three successive Monaco Grand Prix wins between 2010 and'12.

In 2006 they purchased Minardi and renamed them Toro Rosso, which now acts as a finishing school for their best young drivers, and also own the Red Bull Ring circuit where F1 will race this weekend. Their investment in motorsport is unmatched in the modern era.