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GP Week : Issue 204
22 GPWEEK.com // 22 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: LESSONS IN HUBRIS OPINION Over the course of the Austrian Grand Prix weekend, Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz learned the true meaning of the phrase ‘win some, lose some’. While Mercedes’ season of dominance meant that few would have expected a win for Red Bull in the Styrian mountains, even fewer would have predicted a race in which the only retirees were three of Mateschitz’s four representatives on-track. But while the grand prix itself was hardly 71 laps of glory for the Austrian racers from Milton Keynes and Faenza, the weekend as a whole was an undoubted win for the purveyors of fizzy drinks. Despite ghastly traffic on the Thursday that saw team personnel walking the final few kilometres to the track, abandoning their cars in a tailback that lasted long after this reporter left the circuit at 9pm, there was little not to love about Formula One’s return to Austria. Sure, a few more hotels less than a 40-minute drive from the track would have been nice, and restaurant menus with a little less fleisch and a bit more salat would have made me happy, but those are minor details. The work that Mateschitz has done to improve the amenities at what was once a much-loved track has been impressive. The paddock facilities were agreed by all to be the best that Europe has to offer, and on a par with those found in Singapore and Abu Dhabi, two of the best-appointed tracks on the Formula One calendar. From the media centre, journalists were treated to a view of the entire track, a perk that is all too rare in this modern era where the best seats are given to those who pay the most money. Interlagos is the only other track on the current calendar from which the whole circuit can be seen. Internet access was provided free of charge (another ridiculous rarity), while the provision of food and drink was never-ending. Refreshments for journalists may have no relevance to the wider world, but for the travelling pack of press hounds it is always nice when circuit owners realise that we need to eat and drink, and that we work such odd hours that there’s usually nothing left open when we finish for the day. But Mateschitz did make one colossal error with his modernisation of the small race track outside Spielberg: he changed the name of the circuit to the Red Bull Ring. Now, I’m not a superstitious person on the whole, but I am always wary of tempting fate. During the past four years of Red Bull dominance, the idea of an eponymous and self- funded circuit probably looked like a win-win back at Energy Drink HQ. Looking like a good idea and actually being a good idea are two very different things, however. Like the old adage says, ‘to make god laugh, tell him your plans’. And whatever deities were watching the Austrian Grand Prix probably had a very good chuckle indeed over the fact that the Red Bull Ring provided a ghastly weekend for Red Bull (English and Italian flavours alike). If Dietrich Mateschitz wants the 2015 Austrian Grand Prix to deliver a better result for his two teams, it might be wise to consider changing the name of the circuit. There is a wealth of options to choose from, after all. Historically either the Osterreichring or Zeltweg are fitting names with no brand associations (A1 are an Austrian mobile phone network), while if he wants a new name Spielbergring would also work. And if he wants to tempt someone else’s fate? While driving to the 2015 Austrian Grand Prix I’m looking forward to seeing signs that declare ‘Willkommen im der SilverArrowsRing’... OPINION KATE WALKER