Surrounded by the stunning Alpine terrain of Austria, the Red Bull Ring, Spielberg is well known for its undulating natural layout. The moderately short track, as far as those featured on the MotoGP™ calendar go, lays nestled in the heartland of Europe – in a country that lived through a number years where world class motorcycle racing was absent. However, in 2016 the premier circuit staged its first grand prix event since 1997, a time when it was recognised as the A1-Ring.
The 4.318km (2.68 mile) stretch of asphalt features two distinct left-hand corners, and a fast left curve, combined with seven right-handers – each following the natural contours of the hills. With an altitude difference of 65 metres, gearing and bike set-up are crucial to performance. With four straights and a run of flowing corners, engine power can make a big difference on race day.
From the start line, the circuit rises steeply into Castrol Edge corner – an important uphill breaking point that leads into a fast 90-degree right hander, as riders head clock-wise round the track. The corner is tight but the exit is the sticking point. Keep a clear line, and use the entire curve to sustain drive and control traction.
Push round the first turn and onto the Red Bull Rings second straight – which actually weaves to the right and then quiet tightly to the left. The key here is to keep the throttle pinned and arrive at Remus, turn 2, before you know it. This is the tightest corner of the track, a hairpin on an uphill braking section.
Following another rather curvy section of sloping straight, with glimpses into the valley below, riders are setting the bike up for in-line braking into turn 3 due to the noticeable decline in track altitude. Schlossgold is a tight downhill curve, and third gear will get you through the long right-hand corner.
Onwards from turn 3 is another long curve, so gear up and keep the throttle open. Then down into 4th and ensure smooth braking onto a long left. The turn is off camber and visibility is low so the blind exit will test nerves before the track heads into the combination of a chicane twisting to the right. Back up to top gear, ride flat out as the circuit climbs over a crest once more to the second last corner, a fast right-hander, which appears to go on forever and was renamed in the circuit's second year in memory of the late Austrian hero, Jochen Rindt.
To the Start/Finish line from Rindt is one final corner, but preparation is key, as the curve is fast for a 90 degree turn and a wide line will unbalance the bike. At the exit, take advantage of the power to retain acceleration up for the final stretch.
The average speed of the MotoGP™ race on its return to the Austrian circuit was approx. 182.4 km/h. This has been the fastest for a grand prix race since Mick Doohan won the 500cc class in 1994 at the German Grand Prix. An impressive feat which proves it may be small but it can still pack some punch.