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Karl Wendlinger
Nationality Austria Austrian
Formula One World Championship career
Active years 19911995
Teams Leyton House, March, Sauber
Races 42 (41 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Career points 14
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First race 1991 Japanese Grand Prix
Last race 1995 Australian Grand Prix
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Participating years 1991–1992, 1996–2001
Teams Team Sauber Mercedes, Peugeot Talbot Sport, Porsche AG, Roock Racing, Viper Team Oreca
Best finish 3rd (1996)
Class wins 2 (1999 and 2000)

Karl Wendlinger (born 20 December 1968 in Kufstein[1]) is an Austrian sportscar racing and former Formula One driver.

Contents

Mercedes Juniors

Wendlinger started his career in karting and in Formula Ford before entering the German Formula 3 Championship in 1988. After managing tenth place in that inaugural season, Wendlinger won the crown in 1989, which earned him also a drive in the Mercedes-Benz sportscar team for 1990.

Driving the Sauber-Mercedes C11 - alongside Michael Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Mauro Baldi and Jean-Louis Schlesser - the quintet managed to achieve fifth place in the 1990 World Sportscar Championship standings.

In 1991, he continued to race with Mercedes sportscars - alongside a Formula 3000 programme with the Helmut Marko team. Towards the end of the year, Mercedes' team boss Jochen Neerpasch placed two of his protégés in Formula One. Schumacher went to the Jordan team before signing for Benetton, whilst Wendlinger made a low key Formula One debut with the Leyton House outfit for the final two Grand Prix.

Formula One

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1991-1992: Leyton House/March

Wendlinger's Formula One debut came at the 1991 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. He qualified in 22nd place in a field of 26, but was unable to convert that into anything more, after he retired due to a big collision at turn one, between himself, J.J. Lehto, Andrea de Cesaris and Emanuele Pirro. His second race didn't fare much better as the Adelaide circuit was a wash-out, torrential rain leading to a curtailed event. Wendlinger was classified in 20th place, two laps down on eventual winner Ayrton Senna, after aquaplaning on some of the huge puddles of water present that day.

Wendlinger was kept at the re-named March team in 1992, alongside Paul Belmondo. The highlight coming at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, in which a race of attrition allowed Wendlinger to bring the car home in fourth position, albeit a lap down - but nonetheless a huge result considering the financial troubles his team were in. These three points, allowed Wendlinger to finish 12th in the drivers championship ahead of respected names such as Ivan Capelli, Thierry Boutsen and Johnny Herbert.

1993-1995: Sauber

For 1993, Wendlinger was re-united with Peter Sauber who had taken the plunge into Formula One team ownership in 1993. Wendlinger finished in fourth place at that year's Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Other points finishes in Portugal, Canada and Hungary helped give Wendlinger 12th in the Championship again with seven points, two points, and a place ahead of more experienced team-mate J.J. Lehto. He also impressed with several strong qualifying performances, frequently putting the Sauber in the top eight.

1994 started well for Wendlinger, he notched up a point in the first race of the year at Interlagos, subsequently picking up fourth place in the San Marino race, a race marred by the deaths of both Wendlinger's countryman Roland Ratzenberger and the Brazilian racing legend Ayrton Senna.

The whole Formula One fraternity was in a state of shock after Imola, and the shockwaves were still rippling as the teams turned up in Monaco for the fourth round of the Championship. It was here that Wendlinger's career in Grand Prix racing changed.

During the first practice session, approaching the famous Nouvelle Chicane in the harbour, Wendlinger lost control coming out of the preceding tunnel. Under braking, the Sauber hit the wall sideways at some force. Wendlinger's head had struck a water-filled barrier lining the armco wall, in large part due to the low cockpit sides present in Formula One cars of that era. The FIA doctors were quickly on the scene where they found Wendlinger unconscious, and although his vital signs would soon be stabilized, he would remain in a coma for weeks to come.[2]

Wendlinger recovered from his injuries, but when Sauber granted him an opportunity to drive in 1995 he was relieved of his duties before the Monaco event a year on from the accident, as his performances were disappointing. He was replaced by Jean-Christophe Boullion.

Wendlinger came back briefly for Sauber in two Grands Prix at the end of the season, as Boullion also proved uncompetitive in relation to team-mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen. However, this return also proved to be a failure, and the 1995 Japanese and Australian Grands Prix proved to be his Formula One swansong.

After Formula One

Since then, he has competed successfully in sports cars and touring cars[3], winning the FIA GT Championship (with Olivier Beretta) in 1999. After a spell racing for Abt-Audi in DTM in 2002 and 2003 he raced for JMB Racing in FIA GT again, driving a Maserati MC12 with Andrea Bertolini.

Since 2006, Wendlinger has been part of the JetAlliance Racing team, competing again in the FIA GT Championship. His team-mate in 2006 was Phillip Peter, and in 2007 his team-mate was Scottish driver, Ryan Sharp.

2008

Wendlinger has been competing for JetAlliance Racing in 2008 alongside Ryan Sharp. They started well at the RAC Tourist Trophy round from Silverstone. Wendlinger and Sharp won the GT1 class and overall race ahead of Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini's Maserati MC12.

Complete Formula One results

(key)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 WDC Points
1991 Leyton House Racing Leyton House CG911 Ilmor V10 USA
BRA
SMR
MON
CAN
MEX
FRA
GBR
GER
HUN
BEL
ITA
POR
ESP
JPN
Ret
AUS
20
NC 0
1992 March F1 March CG911 Ilmor V10 RSA
Ret
MEX
Ret
BRA
Ret
ESP
8
SMR
12
MON
Ret
CAN
4
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
16
HUN
Ret
BEL
11
ITA
10
POR
Ret
JPN
AUS
12th 3
1993 Sauber Sauber C12 Sauber V10 RSA
Ret
BRA
Ret
EUR
Ret
SMR
Ret
ESP
Ret
MON
13
CAN
6
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
9
HUN
6
BEL
Ret
ITA
4
POR
5
JPN
Ret
AUS
15
12th 7
1994 Sauber Mercedes Sauber C13 Mercedes-Benz V10 BRA
6
PAC
Ret
SMR
4
MON
DNS
ESP
CAN
FRA
GBR
GER
HUN
BEL
ITA
POR
EUR
JPN
AUS
19th 4
1995 Red Bull Sauber Ford Sauber C14 Ford V8 BRA
Ret
ARG
Ret
SMR
Ret
ESP
13
MON
CAN
FRA
GBR
GER
HUN
BEL
ITA
POR
EUR
PAC
JPN
10
AUS
Ret
NC 0

References

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Joachim Winkelhock
German Formula Three champion
1989
Succeeded by
Michael Schumacher
Preceded by
Klaus Ludwig
Ricardo Zonta
FIA GT Champion
1999 with:
Olivier Beretta
Succeeded by
Julian Bailey
Jamie Campbell-Walter

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