Racing in Austria has always been about speed. When Grand Prix motorcycles first raced in Austria, they went to the Salzburgring, a hairy, narrow track that snakes along one section of the mountain east of Salzburg, then down a bit, and then all the way back again.
It was fast, and it was terrifying, and by the time Grand Prix left the track, the average speed of a lap was over 194 km/h. But it was also incredibly dangerous, with no runoff in sections, and steel barriers along large parts of the track.
After abandoning the Salzburgring, Grand Prix moved to the A1 Ring, the predecessor of the modern Red Bull Ring.
The A1 Ring was a shortened and neutered version of the original Österreichring, a terrifyingly quick circuit that rolled over the hill which overlooks the little town of Spielberg, where the F1 cars reached average speeds of over 255 km/h.
The original circuit is still there, at least in outline, visible from the satellite view of Google Maps.
Shortened and neutered it may have been, but speeds were still high. In 1997, Mick Doohan took pole for the race at an average speed of 175 km/h, faster than the 171 km/h average speed for pole at Phillip Island, a notoriously quick track.
When MotoGP returned to Austria after an absence of 20 years, speeds were still high: Andrea Iannone’s pole lap was set with an average speed of nearly 187 km/h, making it the fastest track on the calendar.
And yet the track is not fast in the traditional sense. It is not fast and flowing like Phillip Island, Mugello, Assen, or Termas de Rio Hondo.
Nor it is a track where the bikes explore the limits of outright top speed: at the Red Bull Ring, the highest recorded speed is 316.5km/h on the climb up the hill, 40 km/h slower than the front straight at Mugello, where they have clocked 356.7 km/h.