The Austrian Grand Prix returns to Formula 1 in 2014, an event that in 1982 produced one of the closest finishes in the sport’s history.
For the first time since 2003, the Austrian Grand Prix returns to the Formula 1 calendar this year with the Red Bull Ring. In-keeping with on-track action in 2014, the former A1-Ring boasts the potential for another cracking race, having produced two of the closest finishes in F1 history. One was the infamous 2002 race between Ferrari teammates Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. The other was in 1982, where barely half a car length separated first from second.
Reeling from the loss of the great Gilles Villeneuve earlier in the season, Ferrari suffered yet another enormous blow when team leader Didier Pironi suffered an enormous accident in Germany, severe injuries abruptly ending his F1 career and his shot at championship glory. Heading into Austria, Formula 1 desperately needed a good race. The Österreichring aptly delivered.
Despite being beaten to pole position the turbocharged Brabhams and Renaults, Italian Elio de Angelis in the normally aspirated Lotus 9, issues for the unreliable turbo contenders meant the Italian headed the field from seventh on the grid as the race hit the midpoint, but was soon being chased down unrelentingly by Keke Rosberg in the Williams. Neither driver had a Grand Prix win to his name, and the hard-charging Finn was taking seconds out of de Angelis’ lead as the race entered the final stages. From 1.6s behind, Rosberg was right on the Lotus’ gearbox coming out of the final turn, the pair crossing the line side-by-side. Out of the Lotus cockpit rose de Angelis’ right arm, an attempt to signal to event adjudicators that he was ahead rather than a premature celebration. Hitherto, only the spectacular slipstream-fest that is Monza had produced a closer finish.
Rosberg wouldn’t have to wait long for his first win, the Finn taking victory at the next race in Switzerland. By season’s end, Rosberg had also secured the F1 championship (just five points ahead of the now departed Pironi). Son Nico will be hoping history repeats itself in 2014.
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