After an extended coronavirus-induced break, F1 finally returned to action last weekend with the Austrian Grand Prix.
The race was hailed a success, as two safety car periods and a plethora of retirements delivered an exciting contest up and down the grid.
Valtteri Bottas claimed victory for Mercedes after starting from pole position, with Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc recovering from a disappointing qualifying to finish second. McLaren’s Lando Norris nicked the final spot on the podium from world champion Lewis Hamilton after setting the fastest lap of the race on the last tour.
Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Alex Albon retired from the race due to separate technical issues.
Why is Formula 1 racing at the same track twice?
The COVID-19 outbreak and the consequent travel restrictions has forced F1 to rip off its original calendar and come up with a new schedule for the 2020 season. While the exact calendar is yet to be worked out, F1 has revealed that the first eight will take place entirely in Europe.
The idea behind the first leg of the calendar was to reduce travel from teams’ bases and avoid a repeat of the 2020 Australian Grand Prix, which had to be cancelled at the last-minute after a McLaren mechanic tested positive for coronavirus.
While there are plenty of Grade 1 circuits in Europe, including those with contracts for the 2020 season, many had to cancel their events outright in light of the pandemic.
As such, to ensure F1 at least hosts 15 races this year, the sport’s bosses have decided to hold multiple races at the same venue wherever possible.
Austria was one of the first countries to openly express interest in holding F1 races, and Red Bull managed to seek permission from government authorities to allow the races to go ahead as planned.
What does Styria mean?
Styria is a state located in southeast Austria and is home to the Red Bull Ring. Graz is the capital city of Styria and the second largest city in Austria after Vienna.
Why is it called the Styrian Grand Prix?
F1 is required to have a different name for each race on the calendar, which meant both races at the Red Bull Ring couldn’t have been called the Austrian Grand Prix. Hence, the sport decided to label the second race at the venue based on the area in which the circuit is located i.e. Styria.
There is precedent to this move. When F1 previously hosted two races in the same country in one calendar year, albeit at different circuits, both grands prix were known by different names. For example between 2008-12, Valencia hosted what was called the European Grand Prix, while the Barcelona race was run under the Spanish Grand Prix banner.
Will Formula 1 be racing at other tracks twice?
In addition to Austria, F1 plans on hosting two races at Silverstone on back-to-back weekends. The first race on August 2 will simply be known as the British Grand Prix, while the second race will be called the ‘70th Anniversary Grand Prix’ to mark 70 years since the first championship event was held at Silverstone in 1950.
Will F1 be doing anything differently to the Austrian Grand Prix?
No, both races in Austria will run as per the exact same schedule and format. F1 had previously considered hosting reverse grid qualifying races, but that idea was shot down by Mercedes as it considered it to be a “gimmick”.