- April 04, 1958
- Adac Gt4 Germany
Christian Danner is a former racing driver from Germany who recorded 47 participations (36 starts) in the Formula One World Championship between 1985 and 1989, driving for four different teams.
Before he made a debut in Formula 1, Danner was the International Formula 3000 champion in 1985. In a post-F1 career, he participated in touring car competitions (DTM, ITCC, STC) and North American CART Championship until 1997. His greatest success in touring car racing was a victory at Spa 24 Hours in 1992.
Early racing years in a BMW M1
Born in April 1958, Christian Danner started his racing career in 1977. He participated in the Renault 5 Cup and then in the German Racing Championship (DRM), driving a BMW M1 for Cassani Racing. He also participated in a couple of rounds of the Procar M1 Series, racing against Formula 1 drivers.
In 1981, Danner continued to race in a BMW M1, making a debut at Le Mans 24 Hours in that car. He was sharing the #71 car with Leopold von Bayern and Peter Oberndorfer, not finishing the race.
Four seasons in the Formula 2
In 1981, Danner also made a debut in the Formula 2 European Championship, driving a March-BMW. In his rookie season, he finished 18th in the points. He improved in 1982 Formula 2 season, finishing 14th in the final standings.
In 1983, he scored three podiums at Silverstone, Hockenheim and Nurburgring to finish fifth in the championship. In 1984, he was even better, scoring four podiums and finishing fifth in the points again.
During his F2 years, Danner made several starts with BMW 635 CSi in the European Touring Car Championship in 1983 and 1984, but without notable results. In July 1984, he raced with Porsche 956 at Nurburgring 1000 Km, finishing in the fourth place together with Jan Lammers and Jonathan Palmer.
Champion in the inaugural International F3000 season
In 1985, Formula 2 has been converted into the International Formula 3000 Championship. He was driving the #8 March 85B-Cosworth for BS Automotive, scoring four wins and taking the championship title ahead of Mike Thackwell.
Danner was driving F3000 car in the non-championship Curacao Grand Prix, finishing fourth. He also participated in the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix, finishing just 18th.
1985 - Formula One debut with Zakspeed
In September 1985, while he was still fighting for the F3000 title, Danner made a debut in Formula One World Championship, joining West Zakspeed Racing in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. Driving the #30 Zakspeed 841, he retired after 16 laps due to gearbox problems.
He participated in one more Grand Prix race that year, in the European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch in October. This time, his race lasted for 55 laps before an engine expired.
Racing with March-Porsche and Volvo 240 Turbo
Besides his commitments in single-seater racing, Danner also participated in the sports car and touring car races in 1985. He was driving the #34 March 85G-Porsche for Kreepy Krauly Racing at 24 Hours of Le Mans, sharing a car with Graham Duxbury and Almo Coppelli. They finished in 22nd place.
Danner later participated in few FIA WEC rounds with Cosmik Racing's March 84G. He also joined Magnum Racing to drive Volvo 240 Turbo in selected rounds of the European Touring Car Championship.
ETCC season in a BMW, Le Mans start in a Sauber C8-Mercedes
In 1986, Danner again had a versatile racing programme in three racing disciplines – single-seaters, touring cars and sports cars. He was driving BMW 325i for Linder Rennsport in the European Touring Car Championship, scoring three class victories, including at 24 Hours of Spa.
He also recorded his third and the last start at Le Mans. He was a member of the Kouros Racing crew in the #62 Sauber C8-Mercedes, together with Dieter Quester and Henri Pescarolo. They retired after 86 laps with a broken gearbox.
1986 – full season in Formula 1 with two teams
In Formula One, Danner started the season with Osella Squadra Corse and stayed with the team for six rounds, then moving to Barclay Arrows BMW team. In six Grand Prix races with #22 Osella-Alfa Romeo, Danner recorded five DNFs and DNQ at Monaco.
In the seventh round, the US Grand Prix at Detroit, Danner has moved to the #17 Arrows-BMW. He managed to qualify for all ten races until the end of the season, scoring one championship point with the sixth-place finish in the Austrian Grand Prix at Österreichring.
Rejoining Zakspeed Racing in 1987
For the 1987 Formula 1 season, Danner rejoined West Zakspeed Racing and stayed with the team for the entire season. Driving the #10 Zakspeed 861 (and 871), alongside Martin Brundle as his teammate in the #9 car, Danner didn't score points. He was close two times, finishing seventh in the San Marino Grand Prix and in the Australian Grand Prix.
The season was marked by Danner's disqualification at Monaco Grand Prix. During the practice session, Michele Alboreto's Ferrari crashed into Danner's slow-moving Zakspeed. FISA blamed Danner for the accident and disqualified him from the rest of the event.
Outside Formula 1, Danner raced in selected touring car races with BMW. At Spa 24 Hours, he finished fifth in Linder's #41 BMW M3, sharing a car with Altfrid Heger and Franz Dufter.
Two wins in the DTM rookies season
In 1988, Danner wasn't returning to Formula 1, focusing on touring car racing instead. His main competition was the DTM, in which he was driving BMW M3 for Alpina team. He won both races at Hockenheimring and added one more podium at Nurburgring to finish 11th in the points.
Outside DTM, he raced in a BMW at Spa 24 Hours, not finishing the race, but also joined Mussato Action team at Monza 1000 Km race in a Lancia LC2, partnering Andrea de Cesaris.
1989 – one more Formula 1 season with Rial Racing
In 1989, Danner returned to Formula 1 as a member of German-based Rial Racing team. He was driving the #38 Rial-Ford, failing to qualify nine times in 13 races. He surprisingly finished fourth in the US Grand Prix at Phoenix street circuit, benefiting from many retirements. Danner was replaced before the end of the season, missing the last three rounds.
In addition to his F1 commitments, Danner appeared in three DTM rounds driving a BMW M3 for Linder Rennsport, but without notable results.
Podium at Spa 24 Hours in 1990
In 1990, Danner continued to combine single-seaters and touring cars. He didn't return to F1, moving to Japanese Formula 3000 instead. He was driving for Leyton House team, scoring one podium to finish 14th in the points.
He made three starts with Schnitzer Motorsport in the DTM and joined the team at Spa 24 Hours. He reached the podium, finishing second in the #24 BMW M3 Sport Evo. He was sharing a car with Marc Duez and Dieter Quester.
Victory at 1992 Spa 24 Hours
In 1991, Danner returned full-time to DTM, driving an MM-Diebels BMW M3. He was far from the top, scoring points just once and finishing 21st in the final standings. He also made one start in the BTCC with Prodrive's BMW M3.
In 1992, Danner was out of touring car racing, participating only at Spa 24 Hours and winning the race in the #5 BMW M3 Sport Evo of the BMW Fina Bastos Team. His co-drivers were Jean-Michel Martin and Steve Soper.
Starting an American adventure in 1992
In 1992, Christian Danner started his North American adventure, recording nine starts in the CART Indy Car World Series with Euromotorsport team. In nine races, his best result was the 13th place at Nazareth Speedway. Next year, Danner joined Euromotorsport in three Indy Car races, finishing best in the eleventh place at Road America.
In 1994, Danner joined Andreas Eberle, the former chief mechanic of the Euromotorsport, in his new team Project Indy, participating in three Indy Car races. In 1995, he added two Indy Car starts to his CV, finishing seventh at Miami, what was his career-best result in the North American open-wheel racing. Danner returned to the CART Championship in 1997, recording three starts with Payton/Coyne Racing.
Five touring car seasons with Alfa Romeo
Parallel to his occasional travels to North America, Danner continued to develop his touring car career in Europe. He returned full-time to DTM in 1993 with Schübel Engineering's Alfa Romeo 155 V6 Ti, scoring one victory and finishing fifth in the points. In 1994, he was ninth in the points after scoring three podiums.
In 1995, Danner raced with Schübel Engineering both in the DTM and International Touring Car Championship, scoring one victory in each of those two competitions. In 1996, he raced in the ITCC only, scoring just two podiums.
Danner's fifth and the last season with Alfa Romeo was in the 1997 Super Tourenwagen Cup. He was driving the #35 Alfa Romeo 155 TS for JAS Engineering, ending a season 29th in the points.
TV commentator and occasional racer since 1998
Christian Danner ended his professional racing career at the end of 1997 but he stayed in motorsport until today. In 1998, he became TV commentator and F1 expert for RTL channel.
He continued to race occasionally in different competitions, such were V8Star, GP Masters, Mini Challenge, Procar Revival, Speedcar Series or Volkswagen Scirocco R Cup. Most recently, in 2017, he participated in the GT4 European Series with Porsche Cayman Clubsport.
Photos: Christian Danner,