Last race for Austria in 2003

Last race for Austria in 2003

It seems another European race has fallen by the wayside after Bernie Ecclestone said 2003 would be the last year for the Austrian Grand Prix, held at the A1-Ring. As with Spa-Francorchamps, the circuit that previously hosted the Belgium GP,...

It seems another European race has fallen by the wayside after Bernie Ecclestone said 2003 would be the last year for the Austrian Grand Prix, held at the A1-Ring. As with Spa-Francorchamps, the circuit that previously hosted the Belgium GP, Austria has been axed because of tobacco advertising bans. The Austrian government decided to bring forward the ban, so Ecclestone has taken up an exit clause in the agreement with the race organisers.

A view of the A1-Ring.
Photo by Toyota Racing.
"We'll be racing for the last time in Spielberg on 18 May this year, and then it's over,' Ecclestone told Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung. "We had a contract with Spielberg until 2006, but with an exit clause that's now come into effect (to end the agreement early). Your Health Minister is the one to blame because he agreed to bring forward the ban on tobacco advertising."

Belgium had hoped to get round the anti-tobacco laws and retain its place on the F1 calendar but Ecclestone and the FIA stood firm on the decision to axe Spa. It remains to be seen if Austria will try to do the same -- one option would be if the teams agreed to race without tobacco sponsors logo. Another is the Austrian government exempting F1 from the advertising ban. Belgium failed to succeed with either of those ideas so it appears unlikely that Austria can make one of them work, should it decide to fight for its GP.

With more and more new countries wanting to host Grands Prix, in the future Ecclestone warns that central Europe may only have half a dozen races left, compared to the current ten: "In 2004 we're racing in Shanghai and Bahrain, 2005 in Istanbul, then in Russia," he said. "And it's possible that we then only have five or six races in central Europe."

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Series Formula 1
Teams Toyota Racing