Niki Lauda has welcomed the news the Austrian Grand Prix will return to the F1 fold next season.
Confirmation the Red Bull Ring – formerly the A1 Ring and before that Osterreichring - will stage a race from 2014 came on Tuesday
and Lauda said the deal, brokered by Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz and provisionally thought to extend until 2020, is a major boost for the countries' economy.
“This is the best thing that can happen to us,” Lauda told Austrian newspaper, Kleine Zeitung
. “The worldwide publicity is priceless for Austria.”
“I have always hoped that F1 would return, but that it is a reality is only thanks to Dietrich Mateschitz. It is a great pleasure and it means a lot to me that F1 will return. I also won my home race there once,” added the three-time F1 world champion. “There is a new momentum now and this is the culmination of his project [and investment in redeveloping the former A1 Ring].
“Everyone in Austria should take their hats off to him - it is a boost to the economy here and will create jobs.”
Former McLaren and Ferrari driver Gerhard Berger is similarly enthusiastic about the news his country will stage its first F1 race since 2003 next year.
“I have always hoped that there would be a grand prix again in Austria,” Berger continued. “It is a great thing and would not be possible without Red Bull. We have now have the perfect infrastructure at the 'Ring and Red Bull Racing is also [of course] an Austrian team [too]. F1 fans in Austria have been waiting many years for something like this. It is a great compliment to Dietrich Mateschitz and Austrian motorsport has a lot to thank him for. For Austria the value of this global exposure could be achieved by hardly any other means. In addition, it is also of benefit to the [local] region.”
Mateschitz himself meanwhile is delighted to have reached an agreement with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and he will fund it largely out of his own pocket.
“Victory would probably be the wrong word,” he told the Austrian Press Association (APA), “because it is not a win. But it [getting the F1 race] is a great success and quite extraordinary. It has never been out of the question, but was rather a long way away last year. Then it became more and more concrete and now so concrete we have found a consensus [and done a deal].”