Formula 1

10 German Drivers You May Have Forgotten Raced in Formula 1

Oliver HardenFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2014

10 German Drivers You May Have Forgotten Raced in Formula 1

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    With nine world championships between them in this century alone, you would be forgiven for thinking that German participation in Formula One started with Michael Schumacher and ended with Sebastian Vettel.

    They are, of course, all-time greats—but Germany has a long history of producing F1 drivers.

    Some, however, have come and gone without a trace. Others have been riddled with bad luck.

    And another, as you will discover, discounted the F1 rule book.

    As the 2014 German Grand Prix approaches, where no fewer than four drivers will compete in their home race, here are 10 racing drivers with a German passport you might have forgotten. 

     

Hans-Joachim Stuck

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    BERND KAMMERER/Associated Press

    Hans-Joachim Stuck is best remembered for a sports car career which saw him partner Derek Bell and Al Holbert to two consecutive Le Mans 24 Hours successes in 1986 and 1987. 

    Yet despite never winning a grand prix, Stuck enjoyed a credible Formula One career, making 74 starts over a period of six seasons.

    The son of hill-climbing legend Hans Stuck, he scored points in the first two races he finished for the March team in 1974, his debut season, at the South African and Spanish grands prix.

    He then didn't score a point for almost two years before replacing the late Carlos Pace at Brabham only four races into the 1977 season, in which he scored two consecutive podiums in his home race at Hockenheim and the following round at the Osterreichring, helping Stuck to finish a career-best 11th in the drivers' standings.

    His best chance of a grand prix win came at that year's United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, where Stuck retired from the lead on the 14th lap in wet conditions.

    The victory never arrived though, with Stuck taking two more fifth places in 1988, for Shadow, and 1989, for ATS, before his F1 career ended.  

Bernd Schneider

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    Simon Bruty/Getty Images

    Bernd Schneider is the Michael Schumacher of the DTM, the German touring car series.

    The 49-year-old won a record five titles between 1995 and 2006 as well as a record 43 wins prior to his retirement at the end of the 2008 season—but his Formula One career was underwhelming to say the least.

    Schneider entered 34 grands prix for the Zakspeed and Arrows teams between 1988 and 1990, yet only started nine races.

    And those nine races he began? He only got to the end on three occasions.

    Twelfth place finishes at Hockenheim and Phoenix in 1988 and 1990 respectively were his best results, with his later success in the touring car arena perhaps a reminder of what F1, and Schneider himself, missed out on.  

Markus Winkelhock

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    MICHAEL SOHN/Associated Press

    Markus Winkelhock only started one Formula One race, the 2007 European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring—but made sure it was one to remember.

    The Stuttgart-born driver was called up by the lowly Spyker team to replace Dutch driver Christijan Albers, who had departed the outfit after a poor start to the season.

    And Winkelhock, despite qualifying at the rear of the field, found himself leading the race after diving into the pit lane on the formation lap to change to wet tyres in anticipation of a rain shower, which soon arrived with a vengeance.

    As the rest of the drivers pitted to change on to wets, Winkelhock stayed out and built a lead of over half a minute before the safety car was deployed and the race was red-flagged.

    He was swarmed by faster cars at the restart and retired with hydraulics issues soon after, bringing to an end the most remarkable of cameo appearances.

    Winkelhock was replaced by Sakon Yamamoto for the remainder of the 2007 campaign. 

Manfred Winkelhock

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    Associated Press

    Although Markus Winkelhock was restricted to just one grand prix outing, his father, Manfred, enjoyed a stronger Formula One career, making 47 starts between 1980 and 1985.

    The career of Winkelhock Sr., however, did not get off to the best of starts.

    A collision with Nigel Mansell in practice for the Italian Grand Prix of 1980 prevented the German from qualifying for Arrows, for whom he was driving in the absence of the injured Jochen Mass.

    Winkelhock, with the aid of BMW, landed a full-time drive for 1982 with the ATS team and scored the first and only points of his career with fifth place at the Brazilian Grand Prix, although this was only achieved after the disqualifications of Nelson Piquet and Keke Rosberg.

    In terms of race results, Winkelhock could only manage a best result of eighth—achieved on three occasions in the 1983 and 1984 seasons—for the remainder of his career before being killed in a sports car race at Mosport Park halfway through the 1985 campaign. 

     

     

     

     

     

Volker Weidler

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    Pascal Rondeau/Getty Images

    Volker Weidler drove for the doomed Rial team in the 1989 Formula One season—but never actually started a grand prix.

    The car's lack of pace left Weidler unable to even pre-qualify for the first eight events of the campaign, before being disqualified from his home event at Hockenheim due to his mechanics working on his car beside the track.

    The team let their driver down again at the following round in Hungary, when they were fined for mounting Weidler's rear wing too far back.

    Disagreements, of course, followed within the team and Weidler was never seen in F1 again.

     

Christian Danner

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    As a former grand prix driver-turned-television pundit, Christian Danner is Germany's answer to Martin Brundle.

    Unlike Brundle, however, Danner never stepped on a Formula One podium—but came close to doing so at the 1989 United States Grand Prix, where he finished fourth from last on the grid for the same Rial team which Volker Weidler had such a disastrous time with during that very campaign.

    Weidler's bad luck, though, would soon transmit to Danner, who qualified for only one more race after his success at Phoenix.

    That result was only his second points finish in F1, with Danner previously scoring at the Osterreichring in 1986, his first full season.

    The Munich-born racer left F1 with three events of the '89 season remaining, with 36 starts under his belt.

     

     

Hubert Hahne

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    Hubert Hahne entered the German Grand Prix for five consecutive years between 1966 and 1970, but failed to register a point to his name.

    His best Formula One result, in fact, came in a Formula Two car, which he drove to ninth in the '66 race at the Nurburgring.

    Hahne's debut in an F1 car in the following year's race was even in a Formula Two chassis, which retired with suspension failure on the seventh lap.

    He finished in the top 10 in 1968 and that proved to be his final Formula One race.

    Hahne did not start the '69 event after the death of Gerhard Mitter before failing to qualify for the 1970 race. 

Rolf Stommelen

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    Steve Helber/Associated Press

    Rolf Stommelen is among the more successful drivers featured on this list, with the Cologne-born racer reaching the podium with third at the 1970 Austrian Grand Prix.

    The 1970 campaign was by far Stommelen's most triumphant season in Formula One, with the then-rookie scoring points on three other occasions. 

    His promising form, though, was not sustained, with Stommelen scoring points only twice the following year after a move to Surtees.

    Stommelen suffered serious injuries in a crash at the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix, which claimed the lives of a number of spectators.

    Despite returning later that season, Stommelen was restricted to occasional appearances from then on, scoring his final point at his home race at the Nurburgring in 1976.

    Stommelen entered in 14 events for Arrows in 1978 but failed to make an impression, ending his Formula One career by failing to pre-qualify for four of his final five races. 

Hans Heyer

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    The story of Hans Heyer's Formula One career is among the most bizarre in the sport's history.

    The Monchengladbach driver, then 34, tried and failed to qualify for the 1977 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim—but started the race regardless.

    Heyer, well liked among the local marshals, took advantage of a first corner crash between Clay Regazzoni and Alan Jones to sneak on to the circuit from the pit lane and join the grand prix.

    His enjoyment, however, was short-lived: he retired after only 10 laps and was banned from the following race.

    Heyer never competed in a single-seater again.

     

Edgar Barth

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    John Kerlin/Associated Press

    All three of Edgar Barth's Formula One finishes came in Formula Two machinery.

    He claimed 12th position in the 1957 German Grand Prix, before finishing a career-best sixth in the following year's event, although this was not good enough for points.

    Barth returned to F1 two years later, finishing seventh in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in a race which was boycotted by British teams due to concerns over the circuit's banking.

    His final race occurred at the Nurburgring in 1964, with Barth, suffering from cancer, retiring after only three laps with a clutch problem. 

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