- August 31, 1948
- April 07, 1982
- Not Active
Harald Ertl (1948-1982) was an Austrian motorsport journalist and racing driver who recorded 28 participations (19 starts) in the Formula 1 World Championship between 1975 and 1980. He was also active in the sports car and touring car races, winning the German Racing Championship (DRM) in 1978.
Ertl was out of racing in 1981, planning to return in 1982 but he lost a life in a plane crash in Germany on April 7, 1982.
Starting a career in a Formula V car
Born in August 1948, Harald Ertl started his racing career in 1969, racing with his own Formula V car in Austria and Germany. In 1970, he participated in the European Cup but also in the French Formula 3.
In 1971, Ertl was combining Formula 3 races in England with touring car races in the European Touring Car Championship. He was driving an Alfa Romeo 2000 GTAm, finishing best in the third place at Monza 4 Hours. In 1972, Ertl joined BMW Alpina team in the German Racing Championship (DRM – Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft) and international events, driving a BMW 2002.
Victory at 1973 Tourist Trophy
Ertl was combining again single-seaters and touring cars. He was driving both Alfa Romeo 2000 GTAm and BMW 2002 but his greatest success came in a BMW 3.0 CSL. He won the RAC Tourist Trophy at Silverstone, a part of the European Touring Car Championship, sharing a car with Derek Bell.
Ertl stayed with BMW Alpina team in 1974 but the results were disappointing. In the same year, he also made a Formula 2 debut, participating in two races.
Formula One debut in 1975
In 1975, Ertl spent an almost entire season in the Formula 2 European Championship with Fred Opert Racing, driving a Chevron-BMW and scoring points just once. It was the third place at Nurburgring. That success enabled him to collect sponsorship from Warsteiner and to make a Formula One debut in Hesketh 308-Cosworth at German Grand Prix in August.
Driving the #25 Hesketh at Nurburgring Nordschleife, Ertl finished eighth in his first Formula 1 race. He recorded two more F1 Grand Prix starts later in the season, retiring in the Austrian Grand Prix and finishing ninth in the Italian Grand Prix.
1976 – full F1 season with Hesketh Racing
Good results gave Ertl a boost for the next season. He joined Hesketh Racing as a full-time driver in the #24 Hesketh 308D-Cosworth. The results in the first part of the season were disappointing. He finished 15th in the South African Grand Prix and then recorded three DNQs and three DNFs.
He finally did well in the British Grand Prix, finishing in the seventh place. It remained his career-best result in Formula One. Later in the season, he recorded two more eighth-place finished, in the Austrian Grand Prix and Japanese Grand Prix.
Ertl was among drivers who saved Niki Lauda's life
The season 1976 was marked by Niki Lauda's infamous crash at Nurburgring Nordschleife during the second lap of the German Grand Prix. Harald Ertl was one of two driver drivers, the other was Brett Lunger, who hit Lauda's car after his crash.
1977 - five F1 attempts with Hesketh Racing
In 1977, Ertl stayed with Hesketh Racing on a part-time schedule, participating in five F1 Grand Prix events on the European ground. He failed to qualify in Monaco and France, retired in Spain and finished two races – 9th in Belgium and 16th in Sweden.
In the same year, he also made two starts in the Formula 2 and returned to German Racing Championship, driving a BMW 2002 Turbo and Toyota Celica Turbo.
1978 DRM champion in a BMW 320 Turbo
Ertl's main competition in 1978 was the German Racing Championship (DRM), at the wheel of the #55 Sachs-Sporting BMW 320 Turbo. He won five races and captured the championship title, beating Porsche 935 drivers Toine Hezemans and Bob Wollek.
Outside DRM, he drove Toyota Celica Turbo at Nurburgring 1000 Km, sharing a car with Rolf Stommelen. They didn't finish the race.
Final two F1 starts in 1978
In 1978, Ertl recorded his final two starts in Formula One, driving the #23 Ensign N177-Cosworth in the German Grand Prix (11th) and Austrian Grand Prix (DNF). He failed to qualify for the Dutch Grand Prix and then recorded one more DNQ in the Italian Grand Prix in ATS Engineering's ATS HS1-Cosworth.
In 1978, Ertl also made his final start in Formula 2, driving his own March-BMW at Hockenheim. He also came to F2 season's finale with Chevron-BMW but failed to qualify.
Two seasons in a Ford Capri Turbo
In 1979, Ertl stayed in DRM with Sachs Sporting team but switched to Ford Capri Turbo. At the wheel of the #1 car, he won two races and finished just tenth in the points. Outside DRM, he recorded one more DNF at Nurburgring 1000 Km, driving Zakspeed Racing's Lotus Europa Turbo together with Hans Heyer and Harald Grohs.
In 1980, Ertl was driving the #52 Ford Capri Turbo in the German Racing Championship, scoring four wins and finishing seventh in the points.
One more last F1 attempt in 1980
While racing in the DRM, Ertl decided to have one more attempt at Formula One. In August 1980, he came to Hockenheimring to participated in the German Grand Prix. He was driving the #10 ATS D4-Cosworth for Team ATS, failing to qualify for the race.
Ertl retired from professional racing in 1981. However, he was planning to enter the Renault 5 Turbo Cup in 1982. Unfortunately, he lost a life in an airplane accident in Germany, while travelling to his holiday home together with a family. His wife and son survived.