Karl Wendlinger
in focus

Archives of war

by Alfredo Parga/Book 'Fórmula 1' (1997)/La Nación (AR)
(translated by Maximiliano Catania/FUNO!)

Buenos Aires (AR), 31 Dec 1997

A beautiful story was broken like a crystal. There was an artificially induced coma. A promise. Another fissure as a by-product of his deterioration. Who cares?

The terrible collision at Monaco on 12 May 1994 11:27 - three minutes before the Thursday session to go - already was past.

The Karl Wendlinger's story seemed to be a cinematographic one. The German driver, who was born by mistake in Kufstein (Austria) on 20 December 1968, suffered first from a murky accident and then he was in a coma during two weeks.

'I lost the control of car (Sauber Mercedes C13 W10) at the end of the Tunnel. I don't remember anything else...,' he told.

The witnesses explained that the driver braked the car too late. They saw the black vehicle to touch the internal guard-rail prior to end up crashing into the last wall which separates the escape way from the 'track' itself.

There were seven months and a hard struggle. The Karl's muscular and neurological recuperation turned out to be fantastic. He only admitted at that time the presence of his girlfriend Sophia as long as his father was thanking God because of the driver's step-by-step recuperation.

Peter Sauber, his team-manager, vowed at that time: 'We have every confidence in Karl. We do know he will back to be the driver we discovered in 1987, the Austrian F3 champion who won the 1989 German F3 Championship to Michael Schumacher himself.'

Karl would begin racing once again in the 1995 Brazilian GP. There he had to face up to a complicated, unbalanced car which was wrongly set up in matter of aerodynamics and technics, as many experts said.

His behaviour started to suffer from several fissures, same as his own car. Some electrical problem caused him to retire at Interlagos. His team-mate Frentzen retired because of the same reason, but that did not seem to interest so much to the team members.

Wendlinger, who had been a goldsmith in matter of car set-up, was not the same one; in fact, he was not providing the Sauber's engineers with the exact, categorical reports after every experience, as he did provide them with in the past.

He starred in at the start accident in Argentina, together with Badoer, Gachot et al. Zero laps for all of them. Frentzen finished fifth... Wendlinger retired at Imola because of a tyre blocking; Frentzen arrived sixth. Karl was 15th in Spain, two laps away Schumacher; Frentzen managed himself to place eighth.

Many people from the Sauber staff seemed to forget the Monaco accident. The 'every confidence' in the young driver disappeared suddenly from those minds. 'I've got to advise you Karl,' mister Peter Sauber stammered at that time, 'that Elf and Ford are putting pressure on me. They don't let me get my breath away. They say you are not in conditions to race in F1. They suggest me Jean-Christophe Boullion to replace you from Monaco GP on. Do you understand me? Forgive me.'

Does it matter the fact that Boullion would score only three points in that year? Does it matter the fact that Boullion would be replaced with Johnny Herbert for 1996 season? Does anyone remember the Karl's Monaco accident?

See also
Link: 1994 Monaco Karl Wendlinger crash (YouTube)
Link: Karl Wendlinger (Wikipedia)
Site: Main page (Drivers)