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Surviving ’94

Karl joined cash-strapped leyton House March in late ’91, finished a fine 4th at Montreal in ’92. Photo: Paul Kooyman

Both my father and my grandfather had raced, so racing was in my genes. Like most modern drivers my early career started in karts, which would be 1983. Four years later, aged 18 years, I moved on to Formula Ford, progressing to the German Formula 3 championship in 1989, driving for Helmut Marko’s RSM team. I had a very good season racing against Michael Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, and Michael Bartels; we all fought hard for the 1989 championship which I was very pleased to win.

Karl WendlingerPhoto: Mike Jiggle
Karl Wendlinger
Photo: Mike Jiggle

My relationship with Michael (Schumacher) and Heinz-Harald (Frentzen) continued with Peter Sauber’s team in the World Sportscar Championship. Peter Sauber was very successful; he had won Le Mans in 1989 and the team had been taken over by Mercedes-Benz—the cars were affectionately known as “Silver Arrows” referring back to the successful Mercedes racing cars of the 1950s. Jochen Mass, Jean-Louis Schlesser, and Mauro Baldi were the mature men of the team and we were the junior team; we learned very much from their experience. Peter (Sauber) and the team had made the decision not to defend the Le Mans victory from the previous year, but concentrated on the World Sportscar Championship (Le Mans did not count toward this). The C11 Group C car was so successful, Mauro and Jean-Louis shared the championship, Jochen was 3rd, Michael and I shared 5th place—Andy Wallace finished in 4 place in the Silk Cut Jaguar.

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