Austria hasn’t hosted a Formula One grand prix since the 2003 race at the old A1 Ring. Since then Red Bull bought the track, renovated it and returned it to the calendar this year as the Red Bull Ring for a race on June 22. We could look at this as a quaint story of a historic F1 track finally returning to the series after a long delay. However, there is a very angry Austrian who is not happy about how things are going – namely, three-time F1 World Driver’s Champion Niki Lauda.
According to Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung, as part of its renovation of the track, Red Bull sold off the naming rights of the corners to sponsors. The former Niki Lauda Kurve is now the Pirelli Kurve. Fellow Austrian F1 driver Gerhard Berger also lost his turn, and it’s now the Würth Kurve. Only famous racer Jochen Rindt has retained his name on the track.
Lauda was furious when he found out about the change and demanded to know who made the decision. He told the paper that he suspects that the renaming has to do with his current position at the Mercedes-Benz F1 team, which is beating the Red Bull squad soundly this year. Lauda already has plans to get back for the perceived slight. He said that Mercedes would be celebrating a 1-2 victory for this year’s return of the grand prix to Austria. Given Lauda’s past and his team’s season, that might not be too big of a boast.