Formula 1 - Return of Austrian GP comes a step closer

EXCLUSIVE: Formula One Licensing, the intellectual property division of the company which runs F1, has registered a trademark to the name Austrian Grand Prix – a move which paves the way for the historic race to return.

The race first took place in 1964 but was dropped in 2003 after an seven-year stint at the A1-Ring in southern Austria. The 2.7 mile circuit was bought by energy drinks company Red Bull in 2004 and completely renovated. Renamed the Red Bull Ring, the track was reopened last year and has since hosted DTM and F2. An F1 race may also be on the horizon.

On 8 January this year Formula One Licensing registered a pan-European trademark for the title ‘Grosser Preis von Österreich’ which means ‘Grand Prix of Austria’ in the country’s native language of German. This is a crucial step in the process of bringing a race to the F1 calendar and the trademark application covers three key classes including sports events, radio and television and printed products, such as race programmes.

Wherever possible, Formula One Licensing has registered trademarks for the names of races on the calendar and a slot for the Austrian Grand Prix became available on Wednesday. The 2013 calendar was released with a gap on 21 July for a race which is to be confirmed. The slot is free following delays with the proposed Grand Prix of America in New Jersey and the frontrunner to replace it in 2013 is Turkey.

F1’s annual prize giving ceremony is taking place in Istanbul on Friday and the sport’s boss Bernie Ecclestone has said that he has business to do there. “I am going to Istanbul to see if we can get the Turkish GP back,” Ecclestone said earlier this week. Austria is waiting in the wings if this doesn’t come off.

Red Bull’s triple world champion Sebastian Vettel was present for the inauguration of its Austrian track and recently said “I don't know why we don’t go there. For us it would be great for it to be our home Grand Prix. The track is completely Formula One compatible.”

Vettel’s hopes were echoed by Red Bull’s F1 adviser Helmut Marko who said “you can never say never.” The hurdle is likely to be a financial one as F1’s races tend to break even at best unless supported by a government which uses the Grand Prix to boost tourism for the country. Austria has little need for this so the circuit owner could end up being stuck with paying the annual race hosting fees.

“There are sanctioning fees of around $20-30m that need to be paid, so one simply has to ask the question of where does this come from,” says Marko. Until Red Bull comes up with an answer the brakes are likely to remain on the Austrian Grand Prix.

Christian Sylt is author of Formula Money