As F1 returns to Austria for the third time since the Red Bull Ring was welcomed back onto the calendar, RealSport looks back on previous runnings of the event to find some of the best ever Austrian Grand Prix performances.
10. Nigel Mansell – 1987
Perhaps more memorable for Stefan Johansson’s close call with the local wildlife and chaotic start, 1987 also produced a classic Nigel Mansell drive. Initially bogged down at the start with clutch issues, Mansell quickly got up to speed and leapfrogged his team mate and rival Nelson Piquet at the round of pitstops.
‘Our Nige’ then proceeded to dominate proceedings and vanished off up the road, eventually finishing a massive 55 seconds ahead of his team mate and a lap up on the rest of the field.
9. Niki Lauda – 1984
Everyone loves a home winner, and the Austrians got their wish in 1984, when Niki Lauda became the first (and to this day, only) Austrian winner of the Austrian Grand Prix.
Starting 4th on the grid, Lauda was helped by a patch of oil on track which caught out team mate Alain Prost, and allowed him on to the back of leader Nelson Piquet. Taking advantage of tyre issues for the Brazilian, Lauda forced his way into the lead and, despite gearbox issues that almost forced him to retire, he was able to take victory from Piquet by over 20 seconds at the chequered flag. This event marked the debut of another Austrian driver, Gerhard Berger.
8. Rolf Stommelen – 1970
The earliest entry in this list, Rolf Stommelen’s rise from 17th to a podium finish with 3rd (the German’s only podium finish in F1) is certainly deserving of mention. Stommelen’s race got off to a good start, as he negotiated his Brabham through the field, passing the likes of Emerson Fittipaldi and Jack Brabham in the process.
He undoubtedly got lucky as others retired with mechanical issues, but such was the norm at the time, and the German managed to secure 3rd place and was the only other driver to finish on the same lap as the pace setting, 1-2 finishing Ferraris.
7. Jacques Laffite – 1981
Starting 4th, and then getting stuck behind the sluggish Ferrari of Didier Peroni as the 2 Renaults of Prost and Arnoux disappeared up the road, things weren’t looking particularly bright for Frenchman Laffite in the early stages of the 1981 Austrian Grand Prix.
However, Laffite managed to force his way past the Ferrari, which soon retired, and then set off in hot pursuit of the Renault pair. Prost soon retired, leaving Rene Arnoux to battle Laffite for the lead, which the latter eventually took following a tight battle as the pair negotiated traffic. Laffite held his composure for the remainder of the race and took a rare win for the Ligier team.
6. Patrick Depailler – 1978
In what was certainly a race of two halves, the 1978 race began under threat of rain, which soon arrived once the lights had gone out, causing chaos throughout the field. The race was eventually stopped, but by that point, Patrick Depailler had risen from a lowly 14th place start to sit second on the restart.
The Frenchman then drove an extremely composed race in the face of a resurgent performance from Ferrari’s Gilles Villeneuve (who took his first podium at this race) to finish in an excellent second place behind Ronnie Peterson.
5. Elio de Angelis – 1982
1982’s Austrian Grand Prix was expected to be a contest between the turbo charged cars, with the normally aspirated competitors not given much chance at the high altitudes of the old Osterreichring.
Elio de Andelis’ Lotus got away well from 7th, and became first of the normally aspirated cars in 5th, as a front 4 of Prost, Piquet, Ricardo Patrese, and Rene Arnoux bolted into the distance, demonstrating the expected superiority of their engines in those conditions. However, this superior performance soon turned sour, and 3 of the 4 leading cars retired with engine problems. Only Piquet remained, but following his pit stop, he was unable to make the kind of progress he had previously demonstrated.
This left the Lotus of de Angelis and the Williams of Keke Rosberg (both normally aspirated) to battle for the lead. Neither driver had won a race before, so the battle took on added importance for both men as Rosberg closed as the pair began the final lap. Heading round the final corner, Rosberg was forced to brake slightly as he went off line, allowing de Angelis to take the win by a ridiculous 0.05 seconds.
4. Lewis Hamilton – 2014
After a disastrous qualifying session which left him 9th on the grid as F1 returned to Austria after an 11 year absence, Hamilton was under pressure to perform or risk his deficit to his team mate in the drivers championship growing even further.
It was a case of ‘pressure, what pressure?’ when the lights went out on Sunday, with Hamilton making up 5 places on the opening lap, and had he not had to manage a recurring brake issue (which also plagued his team mate during this race), we may have seen a more feisty fight for the lead. As it was, the 2 Mercedes cleared the front row starting Williams duo, and brought home a 1-2, with Hamilton less than 2 seconds behind Rosberg at the chequered flag.
3. David Coulthard – 2001
Having only been able to qualify 7th after a poor qualifying session where traffic and oversteer issues played their parts in a wretched session for both McLaren drivers, the 2001 Austrian Grand Prix got underway with David Coulthard needing to make up places to continue his strong run of results.
Moving up to 5th after an early safety car period, a tussle ahead between Juan Pablo Montoya and Michael Schumacher further promoted Coulthard to 3rd, and then to 2nd behind behind Rubens Barrichello. By this time Schumacher had caught up in 3rd and it appeared that the race would be decided in the pits. Barrichello maintained position on Schumacher after they had both pitted, but Coulthard managed a sublimely timed fastest lap on his way to the pits, and emerged just in front of the red cars. Despite the best efforts of Barrichello for the remainder of the race, Coulthard would take the win, a win which cemented him as McLaren’s main championship contender for that year.
2. Ayrton Senna – 1985
A string of retirements and poor results had dogged Ayrton Senna since his Portuguese win at the second race of the year in 1985, and following qualifying in Austria, it didn’t look like this race would provide a respite for Senna and his Lotus team, with the Brazilian lining up 14th on the grid.
All the doom and gloom was banished come race day however, and Senna cut his way through the field to eventually finish second behind Alain Prost in his McLaren. While some of this may have been down to the misfortunes of others (as was quite common in the age before bulletproof reliability), this performance no doubt helped to cement the reputation of the up and coming Brazilian.
1. Alan Jones – 1977
Starting 14th on the grid, Australian Alan Jones excelled in the early laps of the 1977 race, dragging his Shadow-Ford up to 4th by the time the track began to dry. Two high quality overtakes on Joachim Stuck and Jody Scheckter moved Jones up to 2nd, and then he was on the tail of McLaren’s James Hunt.
Jones was then fortunate that Hunt’s McLaren would splutter to a halt with only 10 laps remaining. Seizing his opportunity, whilst also trying to keep himself calm (Jones explained afterwards that he almost spun off the track twice on the lap after he had passed Hunt’s stricken McLaren), the Australian took the Shadow team’s solitary Grand Prix win, followed by Niki Lauda’s Ferrari 20 seconds down the road.