Lauda slams Austrian GP critics

Niki Lauda

Niki Lauda

Niki Lauda has slammed reports suggesting that Austria’s return to the grand prix calendar next year might stumble at official hurdles.

It is claimed current rules prohibit more than 40 000 spectators from attending the Red Bull Ring at any one event, and that the circuit in Spielberg must also overcome obstacles relating to noise and environmental concerns.

It has also been reported owner Red Bull did not seek the right permission in building a raised spectator area. Those reports angered triple world champion, Mercedes chairman and proud Austrian Lauda.

“Any reasonable person complaining about noise and grandstand seats should simply understand that [the grand prix] is something positive.”

“We are talking about a weekend for which jobs are created – no sensible person could complain about it,” he told the Austrian broadcaster ORF.

In contrast, he said that without Red Bull, who bought, demolished, rebuilt and relaunched the former A1-Ring, “the area would be completely dead”.

“And now there will be the grand prix. It couldn’t be better for Austria, and everyone in Styria should support it,” said Lauda.

Earlier this year, Bernie Ecclestone ruled out Austria as a potential venue for a grand prix in the future based on his claim that “there are not enough hotels in the area”.

Laughing when reminded of his earlier objection, the 82-year-old told Kleine Zeitung newspaper: “I know I’ve always said that.

“But, yes, now there are some new [hotels], and maybe one or two more to come.

“And Graz is not exactly on the other side of the world.”

Asked what really changed his mind about negotiating with Red Bull’s Dietrich Mateschitz, Ecclestone insisted: “Nothing special.

“We just began to talk some more, and everything became more and more concrete.

“Look, Red Bull is very good for the sport; so professional, such high quality. I think they will organise a very good grand prix,” Ecclestone added. (GMM)

Subbed by AJN.