One of the Red Bull founders, (kinda!) Klien’s stay in Formula 1 was rather short. He began with Jaguar in 2004, and nabbed a few points in the sleek green R5 machine before they were sold to Red Bull, where he remained for 2005, apart from three races where Vitantonio Liuzzi had a go in the car. He stayed there for 2006 as well, partnering David Coulthard in both years.
Ironically in 2007 he was pushed out of his RBR seat by his ex-team mate Mark Webber. His final F1 appearance was for Hispania in 2010 when he took Sakon Yamamoto’s seat for three races. However, he’s now racing in WEC alongside his seat-sharing buddy Tonio Liuzzi. Our very own Joe Diamond managed to grab an interview with the duo, which you can check out here.
Alex Wurz had two spells in Formula 1. The first was with Benetton, starting in 1997 when he deputised for Gerhard Berger for three races, stunning the F1 scene by nabbing a podium in his final outing. He grabbed a more permanent seat the year after and was partnered by Giancarlo Fisichella through until the 2000 season, making up one of the most exciting duos on the grid. However, the car was not up to the Benetton standards of the mid ’90s at this point, and they only scored sporadically.
In 2005, Wurz had a one-off race for McLaren, replacing Juan Pablo Montoya who had hurt his arm playing tennis, and despite not having raced an F1 car for four years he finished in third place. In that four-year gap, he vanished into the wilderness of being a test driver, not properly re-emerging until 2007, when he avenged his compatriot Christian Klien to steal Mark Webber’s Williams seat.
(Okay, he probably didn’t do that for the sake of Klien, but he definitely drove for Williams.)
His year with the Grove outfit is probably best remembered for an incident in the opening round of the season, when David Coulthard nearly chopped his head off with a Red Bull-shaped guillotine after an unsuccessful overtaking manoeuvre.
Wurz has since gone on to race in Le Mans, winning the race with other ex-F1 drivers David Brabham and Marc Gene, has become a massive part of Formula 1’s hierarchy as the chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, or GPDA for short, which looks after matters such as driver safety. Good going Wurzy.
Some of our younger viewers might not have heard of Jochen Rindt, and our older audiences may be keen to point out that he was actually born on the Rhine in Germany, but it says ‘ere in my very official Badger GP notebook (Which you can get by becoming a Pro or Champion Member!) that he raced under the nationality of Austrian. So there.
Rindt holds the unique distinction of being the only Formula 1 World Champion to be crowned after his death. He tragically died during practice for the 1970 Italian Grand Prix, hitting the wall on the way down to the Parabolica in his Lotus. It’s thought that he slid under his safety harness as his car hit the wall, the straps striking his throat and killing him instantly.
With four races remaining, Jacky Ickx could not close the points gap – Rindt having won five of the nine previous Grand Prix – and he was posthumously awarded the title.
Our runner-up was anything but when he drove for Ferrari in the 1990s. A bona fide Tifosi hero, Berger and his team mate Alesi were one of the most popular pairings in the sport, and it was a pairing that spanned four years and two teams, both drivers sticking with Ferrari for 1994-95, and then heading to Benetton for 1996-97, joined by the aforementioned Alex Wurz in the latter season.
The 1997 season was Berger’s last, and provided the last of his ten wins in Formula 1 at the German Grand Prix in Hockenheim. His greatest achievement is arguably aiding McLaren to two successive Constructors’ championships in 1990 and 1991, when he was team mate to Ayrton Senna.
More recently, he owned half of the Toro Rosso team from when they first appeared and was on board when Sebastian Vettel took his maiden victory at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix. However, shortly after, he sold his 50% stake back to Dietrich Mateschitz. It was a clever move really, the team hasn’t even made the podium since then. But Toro Rosso still remains a great proving ground/creche for the youngsters of Red Bull Young Driver academy.
Widely and rightly revered as one of the most stubborn, intelligent and utterly brilliant drivers of all time, Lauda remains one of the biggest names in Formula One.
If you saw Ron Howard’s docu-drama Rush a couple of years ago – or if you experienced it during 1976 – you are probably well aware of the Austrian’s fierce rivalry with James Hunt when fighting for that season’s title. Despite an enormous accident at the Nordschleife which nearly killed him, he was back just six weeks later and returned to fight for the championship, narrowly missing out to Hunt.
He was burned savagely when his car burst into flames during that crash, which cost him most of his right ear and scalp, though the years have been kind to him; he does make a rather dapper older gentleman.
Lauda is one of the elite few that claimed three World Championships in his career, and plays a vital role as Mercedes’ non-executive chairman nowadays. As well as this, he also spends his time making me giddy when walking into the Media room at Barcelona testing, and avoiding the amorous advances of Nelson Piquet:
Lauda is a living legend with countless trophies and a blockbuster film to his name, and now he can add ‘Badger GP’s Top Austrian’ to his CV as well!
It’s actually quite amazing how much Austria has given Formula 1 over the years. The five chaps above are arguably the top Austrian racers, but the country has a few more personalities that are more than worthy of a mention.
This should be a household name for any F1 fan. The Simtek driver had a very short career in F1 after struggling for so many years to overcome his age gap, starting his racing career at the age of 23. Because of this, he sometimes told potential employers that he was two years younger than he actually was, in the hope of retaining his youth.
Ratzenberger will always be remembered for losing his life on that dark weekend in Imola in 1994. Check out Graham Mogford’s article if you want to read more about his career.
Friesacher had the honour of being one of the last two drivers to ever represent the much-loved strugglers Minardi in 2005, alongside Cristijan Albers.
The duo didn’t have much luck in the PS04, but scored a double-points finish at the ludicrous 2005 United States Grand Prix. The team got bought by Red Bull and were re-branded for 2006, all thanks to…
If you don’t know the name, it’s because Mr. Mateschitz tends to step back from F1 a bit, but he co-founded the entire Red Bull company as recently as 1984. In fact, it’s first venture into sport was becoming the drink of choice for Gerhard Berger during that time.
It’s hard to believe that Red Bull is only 31 years old considering the empire-like assets they own. With teams in Formula One, Football, NASCAR, Rally and tournaments such as Flugtag, Soapbox race, Air race, Red Bull TV, and of course that sugary brown nectar that keeps you awake, it seems like the company has it all.
And in F1, that’s certainly true. Before the 2014 rule changes Red Bull were quite happy with their pile of eight world Championships (Four for the team, four for Sebastian Vettel) and with their feeder team Toro Rosso thus far producing one of the most successful drivers in the sport’s history (and probably the smiliest) everything is pretty rosy for Red Bull.
2015 isn’t quite turning out so well, but consider that since their beginnings ten years ago, the team’s form has ebbed and flowed, from midfield newcomers, to constant retirements, resounding success, and now…some sort of mixture of all three.
None of this would have been possible without Dietrich Mateschitz buying Jaguar Racing for a princely sum of £1 back in 2004. He bought the A1 Ring in Austria that year too, and since then has gone turned the team into world beaters, and brought the track up to the standards needed to host an F1 race after an 11-year hiatus.
He also (according to Red Bull TV superstar Anna Bonar, a chum of mine) handed out money to residents who live near the track to do up their houses and make the area look as presentable as possible when the media and teams arrived. What a nice chap!