Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz will be digging in to his own pockets to fund the return of the Austrian Grand Prix.
The energy drink company announced this week that it had reached agreement with Bernie Ecclestone for a seven-year deal that will bring F1 back to the Spielberg track for the first time since 2003.
With the high costs of hosting races making it difficult for promoters to secure a profit from F1, governments have often had to step in to help bankroll grands prix. Mateschitz says the Austrian GP will not generate a surplus for Red Bull, which owns the Spielberg track, but that he is happy to fund it himself because of the profits that F1 has delivered for his own team.
When asked if Ecclestone had given Mateschitz any special conditions, Mateschitz said: “No. But we can rely on the bonus that F1 always enjoyed in coming to Austria, and that we can offer a ‘charming’ GP that is a little different to others.
“Ticket revenues will probably cover the cost of staging the race, but not the promoter’s fee. That’s my expense. But I think winning three years in a row the F1 championships with Red Bull Racing did a little to help us.”
Mateschitz revealed that efforts to secure the Austrian GP ramped up at the end of last year, even though he had targeted an F1 race ever since the track re-opened two years ago.
“By opening the Red Bull Ring, F1 become an ongoing subject in Austria,” he said. “We had a couple of discussions, not regularly, but constantly.
“By the end of last year it became pretty clear and now it has been finalized. We have never given up on getting an F1 comeback.”
Mateschitz expects a crowd of around 60,000 for next year’s race, but will need permission for that number of spectators because current limits imposed by the local authorities allow a maximum of 40,000 at an event. He also says work will be done to further improve facilities at the track, now called the Red Bull Ring.
“We will upgrade the main grandstand [on the start-finish straight] and the west grandstand, and they will be covered,” he said. “Whether we have to expand the paddock is not clear yet.”