Энциклопедия Формулы 1:

Rambler's Top100


Карл Вендлингер

Wendlinger, Karl

Карл Вендлингер / Wendlinger, Karl

(c) 'Who is Who' by Steve Small, 2000




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Ф1: 1991-1995

Карл Вендлингер / Wendlinger, Karl - 1991-1995




1991Leyton House RacingLeyton House CG911
Leyton House CG911
1992March F1March CG911
March CG911
1993SauberSauber C12
Sauber C12
1994PP Sauber AGSauber C13
Sauber C13
1995Red Bull Sauber FordSauber C14
Sauber C14

Racing was in Wendlinger's blood, for both his father and grandfather had competed in the past and naturally Karl ' followed suit. After some karting experience the Austrian was helped greatly by Gerhard Berger (an old family friend) to get started in FF1600 in 1987.

Assisted by the former Grand Prix driver Dr Helmut Marko, he came to the fore in the 1989 German F3 championship with some excellent drives in a Ralt and took the title, edging out Schumacher and Frentzen after the closest fought of battles.

This trio of young talent was then selected by Mercedes-Benz to be groomed in their Group C programme as possible candidates for a future Formula 1 return. Paired with Jochen Mass, the best possible tutor, the young Austrian learned quickly and helped the company achieve its goal of winning the teams' championship with a win at Spa and second places at Suzuka and Monza. However, the necessity of having top-class equipment at his disposal was brought home when he endured a rather lacklustre time in Formula 3000 that year with a Helmut Marko-run Lola, taking only two championship points. The 1991 season saw the two star pupils Wendlinger and Schumacher paired together in the same Mercedes, and they performed splendidly in the somewhat less than previously dominant silver cars. A win at Autopolis was the high point of the season, and Karl was found a place in the Leyton House team for the final two races of the year. All eyes were really opened in South Africa at the beginning of 1992, when he qualified the largely unregarded car in seventh place on the grid. A brilliant fourth place in Canada gave some indication of the driver's potential, but the season was largely inconclusive due to reliability problems with the llmor V10. It had been a useful preparatory year for Karl, and for 1993 he moved to the new Sauber team as Mercedes had foreseen. In its first season the Swiss entrant made excellent progress and Wendlinger scored points on four occasions, though he was unfortunately involved in a number of on-track incidents which blotted his copybook somewhat.

The 1994 season saw Karl partnered by his ex-Mercedes Group C team-mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen, and it was immediately apparent that the newcomer meant business. Everything started satisfactorily for Wendlinger with points-scoring finishes in Brazil and at Imola, but then he was involved in a relatively low-speed crash during practice for the Monaco GP, the impact resulting in a brain contusion and swelling. He was immediately hospitalised and kept in a stable condition by means of a medically induced coma for almost three weeks, but thankfully he was soon on the road to recovery, although it was not until near the end of the season that he returned to the cockpit. Unfortunately after testing in Barcelona he was not well enough to race and he had to wait until the beginning of 1995 to resume his career. Somehow the old spark was missing, and Wendlinger visibly struggled to come to terms with the sheer speed of Frentzen. Eventually Sauber took the tough decision to rest him from the team in favour of Jean-Christophe Boullion, and it was only at season's end, when the Frenchman had seen his star wane in the wake of some poor performances, that Karl was brought back for a final chance to show he could still do the business. Sadly it seems that when he withdrew from the Australian GP suffering the effects of a practice crash, his fate was sealed.

Instead of looking back on a lost career, Karl started to build a new one. A two-year contract with Audi saw Wendlinger compete in both the German and Italian Super Touring series, before he was invited to join the ORECA team for 1998 to drive their Chrysler Viper. A win in the GT2 class with Justin Bell at the A1 -Ring brought his first victory of any kind since his Group C Mercedes days in 1991 and, with the Austrian teaming up with Olivier Beretta for 1999, the Viper pair stormed to the newly formed Sports Racing World Cup, winning six of the nine rounds. Wendlinger also found time to successfully compete in the American Le Mans Series with the same car.

(c) 'Who is Who' by Steve Small, 2000

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