Red Bull has removed Niki Lauda’s name from one of the corners at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg ahead of the revived Austria Grand Prix, set to take place next month.
The race was last held back in 2003 at the then-named A1 Ring, but it fell into a state of disrepair and lost the rights to host Formula 1. However, it was bought by Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz, and reopened in 2011. It has since held rounds of the FIA Formula 2 and German DTM championship, and earned a place on the 2014 calendar last year.
However, ahead of the race on June 22, the circuit has removed the name of Niki Lauda from one of its corners (Niki Lauda Kurve), and the Austrian three-time world champion is less than impressed.
“I am very disappointed,” he explained to Austrian publication Kleine Zeitung. “The only reason I can think of is that I am now at Mercedes and we are beating Red Bull.”
Lauda took up a non-executive director role with Mercedes in 2012, and has played a part in the team’s recent success.
That said, Gerhard Berger has also lost his corner name, and he has enjoyed good relations with Red Bull over the years. Berger was one of the driving forces behind Toro Rosso’s acquisition of Minardi in 2005, and owned 50% of the team until 2008 when he sold the shares to Mateschitz. His corner has been renamed the Wurth Kurve.
Although this could be understood to be a subtle snub to Lauda, it is perhaps more likely that sponsorship has led to the renaming of the corner. The only driver name to remain on the circuit is that of Jochen Rindt, who was Austria’s first world champion back in 1970.