German racing driver Andre Lotterer is undoubtedly one of the most successful active sports car racers in the world, with three wins at Le Mans 24h (2011, 2012 and 2014), one FIA WEC title (in 2012) and two championship titles in the Japanese Super GT Series (2006 and 2009).
He was also successful while driving open-wheel cars, taking two Formula BMW championship titles early in a career and becoming the Formula Nippon champion in 2011. In Formula One, Lotterer was a test driver for a Jaguar F1 Team in 2002 but never started a race with the team. Twelve years later, he participated in his only Formula 1 race, when Caterham hired him as a replacement for Kamui Kobayashi at 2014 Belgian Grand Prix.
André clinched a championship title in his first year of racing
André Lotterer was born on November 19, 1981, in Duisburg, Germany. His mother is a Belgian and Andre was raised with mother in Belgian town Nivelles. He still lives in Nivelles and competes with a Belgian racing license, although he is a German citizen.
As a teenager, Andre was competing in different karting competitions, becoming the German vice-champion in 1997. Next year, he stepped into his first competition with bigger cars, becoming Formula BMW Junior champion in his debut season. He won 14 of 20 races.
Lotterer continued his domination in 1999, taking the Formula BMW ADAC title, with fifteen wins in 18 races. He also participated in nine races of the Formula Renault Eurocup, winning one race and finishing fifth in the points.
Recruited by Jaguar F1 Team after two Formula 3 seasons
The next step was the German Formula 3. Driving for Opel Team BSR, Lotterer has won three of twenty races, to finish fourth in the points. In 2001, his main competition was British Formula 3, where he was driving for Jaguar Junior Team. He finished seventh in the points. The highlight of the season was the second place at non-championship Masters of Formula 3 event at Zandvoort.
Lotterer gets an opportunity to test Jaguar's F1 car in 2001, being promoted to the position of the official test driver in 2002. During that year he didn't compete in any championship, recording only two one-off appearances in two completely different competitions.
2002 - Spa 24h debut and one-off appearance in the Champ Car
In August 2002, Lotterer joined Freisinger Motorsport at 24 hours of Spa, to drive Porsche 996 GT3 RS alongside Bert Longin, Marc Lieb and Georges Forgeois. They finished fifth overall and third in N-GT class.
In November 2002, Lotterer traveled to Mexico's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez to participate in the season's finale of the CART FedEx Champ Car World Series, driving for Dale Coyne Racing. Lotterer was the second slowest qualifier (18th) but in the race, he progressed to 12th place.
No free seats in F1, Lotteter went to Japan
After spending a season with Jaguar Racing F1 Team, some other drivers were chosen to drive for Jaguar in the 2003 Formula 1 season, so Lotterer decided to leave Europe and he started a career in Japan.
His first team was Nakajima Racing, which ran Lotterer's cars both in the Formula Nippon and All-Japan GT Championship. In the 2003 Formula Nippon season, he scored three podiums and finished fifth in the points. In a GT500 class of the Japanese GT Championship, his co-driver in the #64 Honda NSX was Tsugio Matsuda. They scored one podium at Autopolis, Lotterer finished 26th in the championship classification.
2004 - maiden Japanese wins with Nakajima Racing
Maiden victories in both competitions followed in 2004, still with Nakajima Racing. In the 2004 Formula Nippon season, Lotterer was the winner at Motegi and Sepang, finishing as a championship runner-up, tied in the points with a champion Richard Lyons.
Motegi was also the place of Lotterer's first JGTC victory, sharing the #32 Honda NSX with Tsugio Matsuda. Lotterer finished 8th in the championship points. He spent one more season with Nakajima Racing, finishing fourth in the 2005 Formula Nippon and ninth in the GT championship, which was renamed to Super GT Japan.
2006 Super GT champion with Team TOM's
For the 2006 season, Lotterer joined Toyota-supported Team TOM's, to continue driving in both competitions. In the Super GT championship, he was driving the #3 Lexus SC430 together with Juichi Wakisaka. One victory in the season-opening race at Suzuka and two more podiums were enough for Lotterer's first championship title in Japan. In the Formula Nippon, he won two races (Motegi, Suzuka) to finish third in the points.
In 2007, Lotterer scored one victory in each competition but finished out of the podium, fifth in the Formula Nippon and sixth in the Super GT. In 2008, Lotterer scored no wins but collected many podiums, to finish third in the points both in the Formula Nippon and Super GT. His co-driver in Lexus SC430 still was Juichi Wakisaka.
2009 - Le Mans debut with Audi R10 TDI
Lotterer's good performances in Japan caught the attention of Audi and he was invited to drive Audi R10 TDI prototype at 2009 Le Mans 24h race. He was a member of #14 Kolles crew, together with Narain Karthikeyan and Charles Zwolsman Jr.
They finished 7th overall. Lotterer had one more race outside Japan, participating in Portugal's round of the A1 Grand Prix, in April at Algarve Circuit.
One more Super GT title with Lexus SC430
In Japan, Lotterer continued to drive for Team TOM's and he clinched his second Super GT title, again with Lexus SC430, again with Juichi Wakisaka. In 2009 Formula Nippon, Lotterer was third in the points for the third time in a career.
Lotterer spent two more seasons driving for Team TOM's both in the Super GT and Formula Nippon. In 2010, he was second in both championships. In 2011, he finished 8th in Super GT series and won his only Formula Nippon title.
2010 - the birth of the fantastic trio Lotterer/Fassler/Treluyer
In 2010, Lotterer expanded his commitments with Audi, joining Audi Sport Team Joest in three races with Audi R15 TDI (1000 km Spa, 24h Le Mans and Petit Le Mans). Marcel Fässler and Benoit Treluyer became Lotterer's partner.
In the following years, the trio became the most successful crew in the modern sports car racing, with three Le Mans wins and two more podiums at the greatest endurance race. The first podium they scored in June 2010, finishing second behind sister car of Mike Rockenfeller, Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas.
2011 - Le Mans win and Formula Nippon championship title
In 2011, the new Audi R18 TDI came and it was the victorious car at Le Mans. Lotterer, Fassler and Treluyer crossed the finish line ahead of four Peugeot 908s. Beside Le Mans, Lotterer's only race with Audi in 2011 was 1000 km of Spa, where he finished fifth.
As we said, Lotterer was the 2011 Formula Nippon champion. He was an absolutely dominant driver in that season, winning five of six races.
2012 - world champion and Le Mans winner
In 2012, Audi entered revived FIA World Endurance Championship, so Lotterer had to reconfigure his racing commitments. He left Super GT Series but stayed with Team TOM's in the Formula Nippon/Super Formula. In the following five seasons, from 2012 to 2016, Lotterer finished four times among Top 3 Super Formula drivers.
The fantastic trio Lotterer/Fassler/Treluyer dominated in the 2012 FIA WEC season, scoring three wins and four more podiums, to become world champions. One of those wins was the victory at 24 hours of Le Mans. The #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro was victorious ahead of two more Audis, proving a domination of German manufacturer.
2014 - third Le Mans victory with Audi
In the next three seasons, Lotterer/Fassler/Treluyer scored seven FIA WEC victories and finished second in the championship for three years in a row, becoming the most successful crew in modern sports car racing. In June 2014, they climbed again to the top podium spot at Circuit de la Sarthe, securing one more 1-2 victory for Audi.
In recent years, while driving Audi prototypes, Lotterer was also a regular guest at 24h Spa, driving Audi R8 LMS with different partners. His best result was third place in 2013 when he was sharing the car with Christopher Mies and Frank Stippler.
One of the shortest F1 careers ever - just one lap at Spa
In August 2014, twelve years after he left Formula One, Lotterer gets an unexpected opportunity to participate in the Formula One race. He was invited by Caterham to replace Kamui Kobayashi at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. In the 22-car field, Lotterer qualified in the 21st place, ahead of teammate Marcus Ericsson.
Lotterer's race lasted less than three minutes, because an electrical problems stopped him after just one lap. With such a result, Lotterer's can say that his F1 career is one of the shortest in a history of Formula One.