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Alexander Wurz
Alex Wurz 2006.jpg
Wurz at Silverstone in 2006.
Nationality  Austrian
Formula One World Championship career
Active years 19972000, 2005, 2007
Teams Benetton, McLaren, Williams
Races 69
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 3
Career points 45
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 1
First race 1997 Canadian Grand Prix
Last race 2007 Chinese Grand Prix
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Participating years 1996, 2008-
Teams Joest Racing, Team Peugeot Total
Best finish 1st (1996, 2009)
Class wins 2 (1996, 2009)

Alexander Wurz (born 15 February 1974 in Waidhofen an der Thaya, Lower Austria) is an Austrian racing driver. He competed in Formula One from 1997 until 2007, and is also a two-time winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours.

He was a test driver for the Brawn GP team for the 2009 Formula One season.

He is the second son of former rallycross driver Franz Wurz, who won the European Rallycross Championship in 1974, 1976 and 1982.

Contents

Career

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Cycling

BMX

Wurz first tasted competition in the BMX World Championship and won it outright in 1986.[1] This gave him an underlying physical fitness suitable for motor racing. In 2000, Wurz returned somewhat to his cycling roots, starting an MTB team with countryman Markus Rainer. The team, Rainer-Wurz.com, is currently sponsored by sponsors McLaren, Siemens, and Cannondale amongst others. They are multiple World Cup winners.

Auto racing

Early career

Like most Formula One drivers, Wurz's motorsport career began with karting. In 1991, Wurz drove in Formula Ford. In 1993, he switched to the German Formula Three Championship. From 1996, Wurz drove an Opel Calibra for the Joest Racing touring car team in the DTM. Also in 1996, Wurz, together with Davy Jones and Manuel Reuter, won the Le Mans 24 Hours and in so doing became the youngest ever winner of the 24-hour race. He still holds the record to this day.[2]

Formula One

Benetton (1997-2000)

Wurz's Formula One debut was on June 15, 1997 at Montreal for Benetton filling in for fellow Austrian Gerhard Berger, who couldn't race due to illness.[3] Wurz impressed with a podium position in his third race before returning to being a test driver upon Berger's return to the cockpit at the German Grand Prix, which Berger won.

However, Wurz was rewarded with a full-time race seat for the 1998 season with Benetton and spent three more seasons at the team, partnered each year by Giancarlo Fisichella. A strong start to 1998 suggested a bright future, and even attracted the interest of Ferrari[citation needed], but the three-season stint at Benetton turned out to be a disappointment. Toward the end of his Benetton time, Fisichella produced better results.

Racer to tester (2001-2006)
Wurz testing for Williams at Silverstone in 2006.

Unable to find a race seat at a leading team for 2001, he took on the role of third (i.e., test) driver for McLaren.

In April 2005, with Juan Pablo Montoya injured, Wurz drove for McLaren in the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix, finishing fourth in the race, but taking third place after both BAR-Honda drivers were disqualified. This gave him a unique record. No other driver has had such a long gap between podiums. Wurz went eight years. His drive at Imola was all the more notable because he was still not comfortable in the car, and at times had to drive with one hand.

Since his signing to McLaren as test driver, Wurz had been eager to return to racing. At various times during this time he was linked in rumours to a return to a full race seat. His large size for a Formula One driver (186 cm/6'1.5") has perhaps been a factor that has not helped. In fact, because they were so sure he would be driving for Austrian-owned Red Bull Racing in 2005, the designers at McLaren neglected to allow for his size, meaning he could not physically fit in the car. In 2003 he was strongly linked to a race seat at Jaguar, where the under-fire Antônio Pizzonia was struggling. However, McLaren were struggling with their abortive new car and blocked the move to retain Wurz as a development driver. Jaguar then decided to give Pizzonia more time to prove himself, before drafting in Justin Wilson.

Williams (2007)

Alexander Wurz signed a deal with WilliamsF1 to become the team's official test and reserve driver at the beginning of 2006. He drove the third car at all Grand Prix Fridays in 2006. It was announced on 3 August 2006 that Wurz would replace Mark Webber as a race driver at Williams for the 2007 season. This was Wurz's first full time race drive since 2000, and his team mate was Nico Rosberg. At the Monaco GP on 27 May 2007, Wurz scored his first points for the Williams F1 team, finishing in 7th place after qualifying 11th. He came 3rd for the 3rd time in his F1 career at the Canadian GP on 10 June 2007, staying out of trouble from 19th on the grid in an action packed race. He actually damaged his rear wing early on in the race, but battled against it and finished on the podium. He nearly repeated this at the European Grand Prix, but just didn't make it past Mark Webber at the final chicane. That race turned of to be Wurz's last points finish and especially from now on, team mate Rosberg distanced him. The Qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix, where Rosberg started from 16th on the grid, although he lost 10 places due to an engine change in practice, and Wurz started even further back in 18th without been putted further back on the grid. On October 8, 2007 Wurz announced his immediate retirement from Formula One, meaning that the 2007 Chinese Grand Prix was his final race.[4]

The official Formula One website announced that "Williams driver Alexander Wurz has confirmed that he is to retire from Formula One racing with immediate effect".[5] Wurz himself also released a statement [6] saying "I would like to thank my family and fans, everyone at AT&T Williams and my previous teams, as well as the media, for all of their support during my Formula One racing career. I may race again, perhaps in Le Mans or other categories and certainly some of my time will now be committed to the very important subject of road safety." The 33-year old cited doubts over his own commitment as the main reason for his departure despite having a relatively successful season racing with Williams.

He was replaced by Williams test driver Kazuki Nakajima for the final race of the 2007 season in Brazil.[7]

Honda and Peugeot (2008-present)
Wurz demonstrating a Honda RA108 at the 2008 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Wurz was the Honda F1 test driver for the 2008 Formula One season,[8] a role he kept on the transition to Brawn GP.[9]

He also signed with Peugeot to be part of their driving squad for the 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans and he also participated 1000km of Spa in the Le Mans Series.

In 2009, together with Marc Gené and David Brabham, he took outright victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours, driving a works Peugeot.[10] The 13-year gap between Wurz's victories is the largest in the event's history.[2]

Team Management

Team Superfund

Wurz lodged an entry for his own team into Formula One (announced on May 31, 2009), but the application was unsuccesful. Team Superfund was one of several new applicants hoping to compete in the sport from the 2010 season onwards. It was believed that Wurz would prefer to align the team with an existing constructor based in the UK, perhaps renting space, facilities and staff from its factory, while Superfund takes time to build-up its own headquarters, possibly based on existing resources in Austria.[11] The team would have been funded by Christian Baha, the owner of the Superfund Group, and the cars would be powered by Cosworth engines.

McLaren Return?

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has said that the team will need a second reserve driver for the Spanish Grand Prix onwards due to main McLaren reserve Gary Paffett's clash with Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters and Wurz is the favourite to sign.

Personal life

Wurz is married to Julia and has three sons, Charlie, Felix and Oscar (b. September 30, 2007).[12] He used to race with different coloured boots on each foot,[13] but since his return to racing in 2007, he wears matching pairs.

Racing record

Career summary

Season Series Team Name Races Poles Wins Points Final Placing
1992 German Formula Ford 1600  ?  ?  ?  ?  ? 1st
1993 Austrian Formula Three  ?  ?  ?  ?  ? 1st
German Formula Three RSM Marko 16 0 0 27 13th
Masters of Formula Three RSM Marko 1 0 0 N/A 17th
1994 German Formula Three G+M Escom Motorsport 19 1 3 219 2nd
Macau Grand Prix G+M Escom Motorsport 1 0 0 N/A 15th
Grand Prix de Monaco F3 G+M Escom Motorsport 1 0 0 N/A 10th
Masters of Formula Three G+M Escom Motorsport 1 0 0 N/A 26th
1995 German Formula Three G+M Escom Motorsport 15 0 0 74 6th
British Formula Three G+M Escom Motorsport 1 0 0 4 21st
Macau Grand Prix G+M Escom Motorsport 1 0 0 N/A 7th
Grand Prix de Monaco F3 G+M Escom Motorsport 1 0 0 N/A 6th
Masters of Formula Three  ? 1 0 0 N/A NC
1996 International Touring Car Championship Opel Team Joest 20 0 0 43 16th
Le Mans 24 Hours Joest Racing (LMP1) 1 0 1 N/A 1st
1997 Formula One Benetton 3 0 0 4 14th
FIA GT Championship AMG Mercedes 10 5 1 25 10th
1998 Formula One Benetton 16 0 0 17 8th
1999 Formula One Benetton 16 0 0 3 13th
2000 Formula One Benetton 17 0 0 2 15th
2001 Formula One McLaren Test driver
2002 Formula One McLaren Test driver
2003 Formula One McLaren Test driver
2004 Formula One McLaren Test driver
2005 Formula One McLaren 1 0 0 6 17th
2006 Formula One Williams Test driver
2007 Formula One Williams 16 0 0 13 11th
2008 Formula One Honda Racing F1 Test driver
2009 Formula One Brawn GP Test driver
Le Mans 24 Hours Peugeot Sport (LMP1) 1 0 1 N/A 1st

Complete Formula One results

(key) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 WDC Points
1997 Mild Seven Benetton Renault Benetton B197 Renault RS9 3.0 V10 AUS
BRA
ARG
SMR
MON
ESP
CAN
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
3
GER
HUN
BEL
ITA
AUT
LUX
JPN
EUR
14th 4
1998 Mild Seven Benetton Playlife Benetton B198 Playlife GC37-01 3.0 V10 AUS
7
BRA
4
ARG
4
SMR
Ret
ESP
4
MON
Ret
CAN
4
FRA
5
GBR
4
AUT
9
GER
11
HUN
Ret
BEL
Ret
ITA
Ret
LUX
7
JPN
9
8th 17
1999 Mild Seven Benetton Playlife Benetton B199 Playlife FB01 3.0 V10 AUS
Ret
BRA
7
SMR
Ret
MON
6
ESP
10
CAN
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
10
AUT
5
GER
7
HUN
7
BEL
14
ITA
Ret
EUR
Ret
MAL
8
JPN
10
13th 3
2000 Mild Seven Benetton Playlife Benetton B200 Playlife FB02 3.0 V10 AUS
7
BRA
Ret
SMR
9
GBR
9
ESP
10
EUR
12
MON
Ret
CAN
9
FRA
Ret
AUT
10
GER
Ret
HUN
11
BEL
13
ITA
5
USA
10
JPN
Ret
MAL
7
15th 2
2005 Team McLaren Mercedes McLaren MP4-20 Mercedes FO 110R 3.0 V10 AUS
MAL
BHR
TD
SMR
3
ESP
MON
TD
EUR
TD
CAN
USA
FRA
GBR
GER
TD
HUN
TD
TUR
ITA
BEL
TD
BRA
TD
JPN
CHN
17th 6
2006 WilliamsF1 Team Williams FW28 Cosworth CA2006 2.4
V8 4 Series
BHR
TD
MAL
TD
AUS
TD
SMR
TD
EUR
TD
ESP
TD
MON
TD
GBR
TD
CAN
TD
USA
TD
FRA
TD
GER
TD
HUN
TD
TUR
TD
ITA
TD
CHN
TD
JPN
TD
BRA
TD
- -
2007 AT&T Williams Williams FW29 Toyota RVX-07 2.4 V8 AUS
Ret
MAL
9
BHR
11
ESP
Ret
MON
7
CAN
3
USA
10
FRA
14
GBR
13
EUR
4
HUN
14
TUR
11
ITA
13
BEL
Ret
JPN
Ret
CHN
12
BRA
11th 13

Note: From 2001 to 2004: Test driver for Team McLaren, but not a part of the race weekends.

References

External links


Sporting positions
Preceded by
Yannick Dalmas
JJ Lehto
Masanori Sekiya
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1996 with:
Manuel Reuter
Davy Jones
Succeeded by
Michele Alboreto
Stefan Johansson
Tom Kristensen
Preceded by
Allan McNish
Rinaldo Capello
Tom Kristensen
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
2009 with:
Marc Gené
David Brabham
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Awards
Preceded by
Giancarlo Fisichella
Lorenzo Bandini Trophy
1999
Succeeded by
Jarno Trulli

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