- February 15, 1974
- Not Active
Alexander Wurz is a former racing driver from Austria who has competed in various series, including Formula 1 and World Endurance Championship. Most recenty, after few years out of racing, he reactivated himself in rallycross.
Wurz recorded 69 starts in the Formula One World Championship between 1997 and 2007, driving for three teams (Benetton, McLaren and Williams). He scored three F1 podiums.
In sports car racing, he won Le Mans 24 Hours two times, in 1996 with Joest Racing and in 2009 with Team Peugeot Total. After four FIA WEC seasons with Toyota, Wurz retired as a driver at the end of 2015 but stayed to work for Toyota.
He was born on February 1974 15, in Waidhofen an der Thaya, in the district of Lower Austria. Interestingly, his first sport was cycling. He has competed in the BMX World Championship and in 1986 became a champion. He stayed involved in cycling even after he was established driver, formed his own team and even presented a limited edition of the high-quality mountain bikes.
Wurz’s motorsport career started relatively late considering that he is the son of a former rally driver and three-time European champion, Franz Wurz. He was driving karting and in 1991 moved to German Formula Ford while two years later he was in the German Formula 3 Championship.
In the following year, Alexander became the series runner-up what was his best achievement until 1996. That year Wurz won 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time. Driving Joest Racing’s TWR Porsche WSC-95 alongside Davy Jones and Manuel Reuter he surprised many and become the youngest ever winner of the prestigious race, at the age 22.
The same year, driving Joest’s Opel Calibra, Wurz spent a full season in the International Touring Car Championship and did relatively well, scoring points in the most of the races but he couldn’t score any top 5 finish.
In 1997 Wurz has competed in the FIA GT Championship driving a Mercedes. He won one out of 10 races and finished 10th in the championship. However, the most important thing that year was unexpected Formula 1 debut.
He jumped into the seat of Benetton, replacing Gerhard Berger in the Canadian Grand Prix. He retired from the race, just as in the French Grand Prix, but impressed in his third and last appearing that year, finishing 3rd in the British Grand Prix, behind Jacques Villeneuve and Jean Alesi.
That result persuaded everybody in Benetton to promote Wurz to a race driver in 1998. The first half of the campaign was really good for the Austrian who finished in Top 5 in six out of nine races, but later his performances deteriorated and in the last seven races he couldn’t win a point. Anyway, he was 8th in the Drivers’ Championship what was a result worthy of respect for the rookie.
Wurz stayed with Benetton for another two seasons but the results weren’t any near to the ones from the previous one. In 1999 Alex scored only in two races, in Monaco and Austria, while in 2000 he won points only in the Italian Grand Prix. He left the team at the end of the season but stayed in Formula 1 World championship.
In 2001 Wurz signed with McLaren F1 team but acted only as the test driver for five years! His only chance to race in Formula 1 appeared in 2005 when he replaced Juan Pablo Montoya in San Marino Grand Prix and finished 17th in the race. He left McLaren at the end of 2005 to join Williams F1 team but again only as the reserve and test driver during 2006.
Williams promoted Wurz to a race driver in 2007 but he struggled during most of the season. However, there were some bright moments for Alex like 3rd place in the Canadian Grand Prix and 4th in European Grand Prix. With 13 points on his account, Wurz finished 11th in the final standings and decided to leave the series, saying that he was unable to fully commit to his duties and added that he will turn to endurance racing and road safety.
He stayed involved in Formula 1 as a test driver for Honda and Brawn GP in 2008 and 2009 while in 2012 acted as a tutor to Williams’ young drivers Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado.
After many years, Wurz returned to Circuit de la Sarthe in 2008 with Team Peugeot Total to finish fifth at 24-hour race. The following season he scored his second victory there, driving Peugeot 908 HDI FAP alongside Marc Gene and David Brabham. That was his last triumph at Le Mans but in the following years, Wurz scored some notable results, driving for Peugeot and Toyota factory teams.
Since 2012 Alexander Wurz has a contract with Toyota Racing to drive one of their cars in the FIA World Endurance Championship. In his first season in the WEC Wurz scored three wins together with Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima to finish 3rd in the overall standings. In the following two years, he finished 4th and 5th while in 2015 Wurz was 6th, failing to win a single race for the first time.
In a meantime, Wurz has won many famous endurance races, like 1000 km of Spa, 12 hours of Sebring or Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, establishing himself as one of the most accomplished drivers in the last decade.
Nowadays Wurz is one of the most influential and most respected people among the drivers. He is involved in many projects of drivers educations and training, as well in the road safety programs. His academy is closely connected with the FIA and supports various programs intended to young drivers. Wurz was also the president of Grand Prix Drivers’ Association.
Most recently, he was involved into the selection process for the brand new all-female W Series.
After leaving Toyota's FIA WEC programme at the end of 2015, Wurz continued to work for Toyota. In January 2016, he joined Chip Ganassi Racing to drive Riley-Ford prototype at 24 Hours of Daytona, finishing in the fifth place.
After that, he was out from competitive racing for several years, reactivating himself in 2018 as a rallycross driver. He joined compatriot Max Pucher and competed with his team in two rounds of the World Rallycross Championship. For 2019, Wurz was announced as one of drivers in brand-new GRC Europe rallycross series, organized by Max Pucher.
Photo: wurz.com lemans.org tumbnation.com mclaren.com alchetron.com fiainstitute.com
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