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The Austrian Grand Prix and Williams

June 28, 2019

This Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix will be the 32nd running of an event that began in 1964 on a circuit on a runway at Zeltweg Airfield.

A non-championship race the year before heralded the arrival of Austrian Grand Prix great  and future F1 World Champion Jochen Rindt, and acted a pre-cursor to the fully fledged Formula 1 Grand Prix in ’64.

While the event was deemed a huge success, the track itself and its temporary facilities were not well received by fans and considered too dangerous, and the Austrian Grand Prix dropped from the calendar until a suitable alternative was found, or was built.

That suitable alternative came in the form of the Österreichring, built a stone’s throw from Zeltweg Airfield, and completed in 1969 ready for inclusion on the 1970 Formula 1 calendar.

Ferrari won the inaugural Grand Prix at the new facility, as they had done the only previous Austrian Grand Prix with Jacky Ickx and Lorenzo Bandini respectively.

Sadly, the 1970 Austrian Grand Prix would prove to be Austrian hero Jochen Rindt’s last Grand Prix as he was killed in practice for the very next Grand Prix at Monza three weeks later.

Williams took their first Austrian Grand Prix win in 1979 when Alan Jones romped home to win by over half a minute in his Williams FW07.

The team would have to wait another eight years before again tasting victory in the 1987 Austrian Grand Prix with Britain’s Nigel Mansell, the last Grand Prix to be held at the Österreichring when it became clear that Formula 1 cars of the day had outgrown its narrow fast sweeping curves and limited runoff areas.

It would be ten years before the Austrian Grand Prix would return, and Williams would again triumph with Jacques Villeneuve at the wheel at the redeveloped Österreichring in 1997, now named the A1-ring.

It would be Williams’ second consecutive win in Austria (albeit ten years apart) and the last of the Williams Team’s Austrian Grand Prix wins.


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