The word on the street (or at least on my street) is that we could see an F1 engine programme from Austria in 2014. There are some who might draw exciting conclusions from this suggestion as there is only Austrian registered F1 team, which is why they play the splendid Land der Berge after each Red Bull Racing victory, although it must be said that the wearing of lederhosen and munching on strudel is not awfully common in Milton Keynes-auf-der-Autobahn, Buckinghamshire. However, the city of Graz in Styria, is a town famous for its educational establishments and in the engineering world for a company called Anstalt für Verbrennungskraftmaschinen List, better known as AVL, the world’s largest privately owned automotive powertrain company. This was started by an engineer called Hans List in 1948 and was famous for its work on diesels but in the last 30 years has expanded into all manner of other activities and nowadays employs 4,000 engineers in technical centres around the world, doing confidential engine design work for many of the car companies of today. Ironically the List company is still run by the family and is unlisted on any stock exchange…
Graz is, of course, the home town of Helmut Marko, the Austrian who lurks in the back of the garage making sure that the team does what Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz wants to be done. Mateschitz is also a Styrian, having been born in Sankt Marein im Mürztal, 40 miles to the north of Graz. Mateschitz recently funded the reconstruction of the old racing circuit at Zeltweg, which began life as the Österreichring and hosted the Austrian GP from 1970 until 1987. It later reappeared on the F1 calendar as the A1-Ring and hosted more Austrian GPs between 1997 and 2003.
Red Bull currently has a ongoing deal with Renault for its supply of engines, but there is no reason why an engine being developed in Graz could not appear in the future badged by an AVL customer, or indeed by Red Bull itself. It makes no sense really for a drinks company to build racing engines, but then again one might have argued the same thing about F1 chassis a few years ago.
It is also worth noting that there is increased talk of India’s Tata Motors having a look at F1 as well. The company is expanding fast globally, notably with the Nano model and with its purchase a while back of the Jaguar and Land Rover brands.