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Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Austrian GP set for 2014

Associated Press

VIENNA -- Formula One racing is set for a return to Austria in 2014 after an 11-year break.

The Austrian Grand Prix has been provisionally scheduled for July 6 in Spielberg after Red Bull team officials spoke with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

"(Red Bull owner) Dietrich Mateschitz and Bernie Ecclestone have reached an agreement to bring back Formula One racing to (the province of) Styria," the Austrian-based F1 team said Tuesday.

Spielberg also hosted the race from 1997-2003, with Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher winning the last two. The track has been slightly modified since to improve safety.

After the last race in 2003, Red Bull has been working on infrastructure around the circuit for many years to get it back on the calendar.

The circuit received an F1 license in May 2011 but since has only staged events for the DTM touring car series.

Three-time F1 world champion Niki Lauda, who won his home grand prix in 1984, described the imminent return of the series to Austria as "an enormous joy."

"I've always hoped the Formula One would come back some day. This means a lot to me," Lauda told the Austria Press Agency. "It's a new impetus, especially for the region ... Formula One is the crown on (Mateschitz') work."

Austria has hosted 26 races since 1964 on different circuits, with Alain Prost winning a record three times.

Until 1987, the races were held in nearby Zeltweg before Austria first disappeared from the calendar for 10 years.

Austria's most notorious race took place in 2002, when leader Rubens Barrichello obeyed Ferrari team orders to slow down and allow teammate Schumacher to cross the line first. Schumacher led the standings and was on his way to the fifth of seven world titles.