Markus Winkelhock is a professional racing driver from Germany who throughout his career competed in the various competitions. He even made one start in Formula One, driving for Spyker in the 2007 European Grand Prix at Nürburgring.
However, he achieved the most in sports car racing, reaching the peak in 2012 when he won the FIA GT1 World Championship. In the same year, he won Nürburgring 24 Hours for the first time. He added two more N24 wins in 2014 and 2017.
Early years in various Formula competitions
He was born in Stuttgart in June 1980, as a son of former racer Manfred who was killed in a crash when Markus was five years old. As a teenager, Winkelhock has competed in the various junior Formula competitions.
In 1998, he was a vice-champion in Formula Konig while in the following year Markus finished 4th in Formula Renault Germany, with two wins in his books. Driving in Formula Renault Eurocup in 2000, Winkelhock managed to win one race to finish 6th in the championship.
In the following two years, Winkelhock drove for Mucke Motorsport in the German Formula 3 championship. During the season of 2001, Markus scored three race wins to finish 5th overall while in 2002 he took 7th position in the championship after he has scored only one win. Markus stayed with Mucke Motorsport in 2003 but now has competed in Formula 3 Euroseries. After he won two races that year, Winkelhock at the end of the season took 4th place in the Drivers’ championship.
Short spell in DTM and return to single-seaters
After graduating in open-wheel racing, Winkelhock in 2004 switched to touring cars, entering the DTM series. Driving a Team Persson’s Mercedes, Markus failed to impress. In 10 races he couldn’t score a point, so he finished 19th in his first full-time year in the most popular German racing series.
Somewhat disappointed, he returned to single-seaters in 2005. As a driver of a Draco Multiracing USA in the World Series by Renault, he had one of his best years so far. He won three out of 17 races that year and finished 3rd in the final standings. Unfortunately, one of the moments which were best remembered from 2005 were two crashes in Monaco . one during qualifying and one in the first lap of the race.
Winkelhock tiptoed to Formula 1
The year of 2006 has begun with a lot of optimism for Winkelhock after he has been named a test and reserve driver of Midland F1 Team. Markus had a chance to show what he has in for Friday tests and signed a new contract with the team, now under the name Spyker F1, for the 2007 campaign.
Winkelhock entered only one race in his Formula 1 career
That year he drove his sole Formula 1 Grand Prix. Winkelhock replaced Christijan Albers for the European Grand Prix. He had to start the race from the last position but in the last moment, he was called from the team to switch to intermediate tyres. Heavy rain forced rest of the grid to pit early what allowed Winkelhock to take a lead. His advantage was 33 seconds when the safety car was deployed and after the restart, his team made a wrong tactical decision and finally he was forced to retire on lap 15 after car’s failure.
Unsuccessful return to DTM
Spyker team decided not to retain services of the German driver for the rest of the season, opting to sign Japanese Sakon Yamamoto. During the rest of the season, Winkelhock returned to DTM, he drove seven races but again couldn’t win a single point.
Finally, in 2008 Markus earned some points in DTM. Driving for Team Rosberg, the Stuttgarter won six points and took 11th place overall. The things slightly improved in 2009 when Winkelhock scored 11 points out of 10 races to finish 10th in the championship while in his last year in DTM, Markus had 7 points on his account what was enough only for the 12th place.
GT1 World Championship was well suited for Markus
Starting from 2011 Winkelhock has competed in GT1 World Championship. Driving a Lamborghini for All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport alongside the team boss Marc Basseng, it looked like Markus finally found a competition which is well suited for him. In his first year, he earned three wins and was 5th at the end of the season.
World GT1 champion and Nürburgring 24h winner in 2012
Winkelhock obviously enjoyed a new engagement and it was seen in 2012. The team switched to Mercedes for the FIA GT1 World Championship what proved to be a good decision. Winkelhock and Basseng won only one race, but they had nine more podium finishes and they became a series’ champions, taking a crown in the very close season, by only one point ahead of Hexis Racing and Vita4One Racing Team.
Second victory at Nürburgring 24 Hours in 2014
GT1 World Championship ceased before the start of 2013 season but the new competition was formed under the umbrella of SRO and naming sponsorship of Blancpain. Winkelhock signed with well-known Phoenix Racing team to compete in the Blancpain Endurance Series, but his first year wasn’t brilliant after he finished 23rd with 12 points.
In 2014, he continued to race in the same series but the highlight of his season was the second victory at 24 Hours of Nürburgring. His co-drivers in an Audi R8 LMS were Christopher Haase, Rene Rast and Christian Mamerow.
Solid results in Blancpain GT Series
In 2014, Winkelhock drove both Sprint and Endurance series of Blancpain. Interestingly, in Endurance cup, he entered only one race and won it, while in Sprint series he drove full-season, collected 32 points and finished 11th overall.
Further improvement followed in 2015 when Markus took 9th position in Blancpain Sprint Series with 48 points, but in Endurance failed to finish any of five races he has entered.
For the season of 2016, Winkelhock decided to have more duties. He continued with his commitments with Phoenix Racing in Blancpain but with the same team, he also debuted in ADAC GT Masters.
Third victory at 24 Hours of Nürburgring in 2017
In 2017, Markus continued to drive Audi race cars all around the world. The highlight of the season was his third victory at 24 Hours of Nürburgring. This time, he was sharing an Audi R8 LMS with Christopher Mies, Kelvin van der Linde and Connor de Phillippi.
He spent a season as full-time driver for Mücke Motorsport in ADAC GT Masters and driving for Team WRT in the Blancpain GT Series. He and Will Stevens finished second in Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup.
In 2018 and 2019, Markus continues with the same job, competing as a full-time driver in the ADAC GT Masters and Blancpain GT Series and as endurance co-driver in many racing events all over the world.