With the Austrian Grand Prix set to return to the Formula One calendar next year we’re taking a look back at some of the memorable moments in F1 history seen in the country.
Tomorrow marks 35 years since Ronnie Peterson’s tenth and final victory at the wheel of a Formula One car. The spectacularly fast Swedish driver lost his life a few weeks later following a crash at Monza.
Rain hit the Osterreichring ahead of the 12th round of the 1978 season. Expecting conditions to improve, the field was unanimous in opting for slick tyres. But the slippery track caught out world championship leader Mario Andretti, Peterson’s team mate, on the first lap.
Peterson also spun on the eighth lap as the rain came down more heavily and the race was red-flagged. Once it resumed he pulled away to score a comfortable win by over three-quarters of a minute over Patrick Depailler.
Gilles Villeneuve was a similar gap behind in third. Tragically, within four years all three had lost their lives at the wheel of F1 cars.
This was Lotus’s seventh win of the year. The 79s had regularly enjoyed such a performance advantage over their rivals that they clinched the constructors’ championship with four races to spare.
Even so, team owner Colin Chapman would not let his drivers sort out the destiny of the title between themselves. Peterson’s Austria win moved him within nine points of Andretti but in the next race at Zandvoort he obeyed team orders and followed Andretti home.