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Biography

SEASON INFORMATION
13/01/2018

[Official Website]  

Biography

 

Before Alex took the traditional route into Karting, he was a BMX rider, indeed by 1989, aged 15, he had been runner-up in the European BMX Championships and World Champion.

He then switched to Karting and over the next couple of seasons finished runner-up in the Austrian Championship and fourth in the Middle Eastern Championships.

In 1991 he switched to single-seaters winning the Austrian Junior FF1600 Championship and finishing second in the International Formula Ford Cup.

He remained in Formula Ford for 1992 winning the German and Austrian championships together with the International Formula Ford 1600 Cup. His 22 victories and 24 pole positions winning him the Austrian Motorsport Award.

In 1993 he moved up to F3, winning the Austrian Championship and finishing 13th in the German Championship. Over the next two seasons he remained in German F3, finishing second in 1994 and sixth in 1995.

In 1996 Alex made history when he won the Le Mans 24-Hour Race, the youngest winner in the history of the event. He also competed in the FIA International Touring Car Championship.

For 1997 he was signed to drive for Mercedes in the FIA GT Championship, winning the Donington round of the Championship. However in addition to his GT duties, Alex was employed as test driver with Benetton and when Gerhard Berger needed surgery for sinus problems mid-season, Alex was drafted in for his F1 debut.

Although he only competed in three events, the twenty-three-year-old made a major impression finishing third in the British GP, his final outing before Berger returned.

Between 1998 and 2000, Alex participated in fifty races for Benetton winning a further 22 points for the Enstone-based team. However the team had never fully recovered from the loss of Michael Schumacher and subsequently Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne. The team was no longer mixing it with the front-runners and Alex appeared to have lost his initial sparkle. In 1998 the Austrian had given his team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella a good run for his money however in the two subsequent seasons, especially in 2000, the Italian well and truly had the edge.

At the end of 2000 McLaren-Mercedes who had employed Olivier Panis as test driver to great effect, signed Alex who looked set to be 'sitting out' the 2001 season.

Having done a sterling job for the Woking team in 2001 Alexander was retained for 2002 and 2003, indeed he was promoted to the role of official reserve driver.

When it became clear that Jaguar was losing patience with Antonio Pizzonia and that the Brazilian's future was in doubt, one of the first names to be linked with the Milton Keynes outfit was Wurz, and thus began one of the big stories of 2003.

Jaguar made it clear that it was interested and for a while it looked as though the Austrian was heading back for a full race drive. However McLaren was not only disappointed with the manner in which Jaguar had handled matters - having approached Wurz direct - the Woking outfit was also demanding a hefty compensation package, money which Jaguar simply didn't have.

Eventually Jaguar opted for Minardi's Justin Wilson, however when it came around to negotiating drives for 2004 everyone presumed that Alex would be top of Jaguar's 'shopping list', they were wrong.

For a while it looked a mere formality, since the Austrian's 'only' competition for the Jaguar drive was Jos Verstappen, Justin Wilson and a couple of others. However another Austrian Christian Klien, was destined to take the drive, courtesy of a substantial financial package from Red Bull, leaving Wurz at Woking for a fourth successive season.

Although linked with a number of teams for 2005, once again the Austrian signed on the dotted line for the Woking team.

At first it looked like the lanky Austrian would be forced to suffer another season watching from the sidelines, only able to strut his stuff during Friday free practice sessions - a role he alternated with Pedro de la Rosa.

However, following Juan Pablo Montoya's 'tennis accident', Alex was drafted in to partner Kimi Raikkonen, with de le Rosa having deputised for the Colombian in Bahrain.

Alex grabbed the opportunity with both hands, qualifying seventh, and finishing fourth - though following Jenson Button's disqualification this improved to third.

At his final pit stop, the Austrian driver suffered a problem with the fuel flow meter on his refuelling rig, sparking fears that his car had been short-filled. Instructed to drive in 'fuel conserve' mode, whilst the situation was investigated, Alex kept his cool and held position.

At the end of the year, it's understood that McLaren gave Wurz an ultimatum, however, the Austrian was already looking elsewhere, his name linked with at least two teams.

In December, the team announced that DTM Champion, Gary Paffett, would join Pedro de la Rosa as test driver, yet Martin Whitmarsh still insisted that the team was "in discussion" with the Austrian.

Two days into the New Year, in one of the big shocks of the new season, WilliamsF1 announced that it had signed the highly experienced tester, at a time when everyone was expecting the Grove outfit to opt for (pay driver) Narain Karthikeyan. The Indian did indeed sign for the Grove outfit, though it was the Austrian who did the majority of the testing and who participated in the Friday practice sessions.

We said at the time the both Wurz and Williams would benefit, however, it was to be a dreadful season for the British team, and there was little that Alexander could do to stop the rot.

That said, once the year's best secret was officially out, that Toyota was to supply Williams with engines in 2007, it was only a matter of days before the team confirmed that Alex would be taking the second race seat alongside Nico Rosberg.

Speaking at the launch of the team's 2007 contender, Williams' Director of Engineering Patrick Head admitted that he and Frank (Williams) were "ashamed" of their team's performance in 2006, a season in which, ignoring the fact that its two drivers could only manage 11 points, the team completed just 58% of the race laps that comprised the championship, the worst reliability record of all eleven teams.

With a new engine, a major backroom re-shuffle and a new title sponsor, it was hoped that 2007 would witness a significant improvement from the Grove team. In many ways it did.

On his debut in F1 in 1997, Alex looked the real deal, and over the next season or so he continued to impress. But then came the slump and a series of heavy accidents. Many of us thought that perhaps the Austrian wasn't quite as good as we'd originally imagined.

Sadly, although there were some good performances in 2007, most notably his podium finish in Canada, Alex appeared to be suffering from 'ring rust', he'd simply been out of the competitive F1 environment for too long.

He only once out-qualified Rosberg, and it was this failure in qualifying which left him with so much more work to do the following day. That said, it was in Canada, and again at the Nurburgring, where he was able to call upon his vast experience and deliver impressive performances.

It was pretty obvious that Alex would not be partnering Rosberg in 2008, however, nobody was expecting the Austrian to announce his retirement from racing - with immediate effect - ahead of the season finale, thereby bringing his F1 (race) career to an abrupt end.

With that much testing talent, and a real love of F1, it was inevitable that someone would eventually make a bid for Alex' services, and consequently in 2008 the Austrian joined Honda, where his vast experience was much needed.

With one of the weakest engines on the grid and a poor aero package, there was little that Alex or anyone else could do for the Brackley team in 2008 as Honda enjoyed another miserable season.

The new test rules meant there was little to keep him busy therefore the popular Austrian made a number of Sports Car appearances for Peugeot.

In 2009, following the change of ownership at Brackley, not to mention even stricter test rules, it is unclear what precisely Alex' plans are. Ross Brawn claims the Austrian will be retained in an "advisory role" though that is surely of much interest to a race who showed such initial promise.

Statistics - Prior to 2008 Season

Drivers' Titles: 0
Seasons in F1: 6
Grand Prix: 69
Wins: 0
Points: 45
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 1

Best result in 2007: 3rd (Canada)
Best qualifying 2007: 11th (2 times)
Worst qualifying 2007: 20th (2 times)
Average grid position: 15.56
2007: Out-qualified Nico Rosberg 1 time
2007: Out-qualified by Nico Rosberg 15 times

2007: Completed 854 out of 994 laps (85.92%)
2005: Finished 12 times from 16 starts (75%)

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