Frentzen, Heinz-Harald PDF Print E-mail

Heinz-Harald Frentzen

Nation: Germany
DOB: 1967-05-18
Place: Munchengladbach
Grand Prix entered:159
World Championships: 0
Podiums: 18
Wins: 3
Fastest laps6
Points: 174.00
First Race:1994-03-27 Interlagos, Sauber
Last Race:2003-10-12 Suzuka, Sauber
2003 Sauber 
2002 Arrows, Sauber 
2001 Jordan, Prost 
2000 Jordan  
1999 Jordan 
1998 Williams 
1997 Williams 
1996 Sauber 
1995 Sauber 
1994 Sauber 

Heinz-Harald Frentzen

Pre-F1 career
Frentzen was born in the West German city of Mönchengladbach (North Rhine-Westphalia) to a German father and a Spanish mother. After 5 years in karting, at the age of 18 Frentzen entered the German Formula Ford 2000 series, in 1986. As in his karting career, he was funded and supported by his father (a funeral director) who also acted as both team boss and head mechanic. After two seasons in Formula Ford he was runner-up in the 1987 series, despite not participating in all races.

Frentzen progressed to German Formula Opel Lotus in 1988 in the Junior Team of former Formula One driver Jochen Mass, who had been impressed by Frentzen's performances in Formula Ford. Frentzen was champion of the German series in his first year, as well as participating in the Formula Opel Lotus Euroseries (in which he finished 6th). The next step was the German Formula 3 Championship in 1989, where Frentzen competed against many future stars including Michael Schumacher and Karl Wendlinger. At the time, there was a big push by Bernie Ecclestone to have a German driver in the Formula One World Championship, so the ONS (the German National Motorsports committee) decided to support both Frentzen and Schumacher. The ONS put up the reward of a Formula One test to the driver who first would take a victory in a Formula 3 race. This ultimately ended up being Schumacher, in a controversial race at Zeltweg, Austria in which Frentzen claimed Schumacher had forced him off the track. However, Schumacher did not get the Formula One test drive anyway; Karl Wendlinger won the German Formula 3 Championship and Frentzen became joint runner-up with Schumacher (the two finishing on identical points totals).

F1, Sauber & Williams
In 1994 Frentzen was given a Formula 1 drive by Peter Sauber in a Mercedes powered car, as team mate to Wendlinger. So impressive was he that Frank Williams asked him to replace Ayrton Senna at Williams after the Brazilian's death, but Frentzen chose to remain with Sauber and his performances helped to maintain the team's momentum after Karl Wendlinger was seriously injured at Monaco. The following year in the now Ford-powered Sauber he got his first podium finish and ended the year 9th in the Drivers Championship. However, the 1996 Sauber was unreliable, with many races ending in retirements and Frentzen dropping down the order, though he was one of only four drivers remaining at the end of that year's chaotic, rain-soaked Monaco Grand Prix.

1997 should have been Frentzen's breakthrough year as he was signed to the dominant Williams-Renault team . He scored his first win at San Marino but the season was disappointing; after the family-atmosphere at Sauber Frentzen found life at Williams difficult, in particular having a troubled relationship with Patrick Head. Despite qualifying for many races on the front row he had a tendency to drift back in the race, usually finishing well behind team mate Jacques Villeneuve. The next year Williams lost the Renault engine and were squeezed out by the more competitive Ferrari and Mclaren teams, with Frentzen's best result a third in the first race of the season.

F1, Jordan & beyond
In 1999 Frentzen moved to Jordan in a straight swap with Ralf Schumacher and enjoyed probably the best season of his career in the Honda powered car, with two race wins including a memorable French Grand Prix and scoring points in the majority of races. Frentzen finished 3rd in the Driver Championship and was regarded by many as the driver of the year.

2000 and 2001 were critical years as Honda also began to supply the BAR team, resulting in a race between the teams as to who would secure the regular engine supply. In 2000 Frentzen managed two podiums, were the best results for the team, but Jordan still finished down the grid and, crucially, behind BAR. After some low points finishes, injury, disagreements about the technical direction of the team ( Frentzen reportedly offered to pay for the changes to fix the car, out of his own pocket )and then a string of retirements half way through the 2001 season, Team Jordan dropped Frentzen and replaced him with Jean Alesi. Frentzen took Alesi's place at the struggling Prost team, and managed to qualify a brilliant 4th at Spa, before the outfit collapsed at the end of the season.

2002 saw Frentzen attempt a few races with the back-of-the-grid Arrows team, before the team went bankrupt. Back with Sauber for 2003, Frentzen managed a mini-renaissance, proving himself more than a match for his highly-rated team mate Nick Heidfeld and even scoring a podium finish in the penultimate race of the year in the United States.

For 2004, Frentzen moved to the German Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters saloon car series to drive for Opel, encouraged by the success achieved in the series by fellow F1 refugee Jean Alesi. Unfortunately his Opel Vectra was not a competitive car, and he was regularly outpaced by not only the Audi and Mercedes drivers but also by his Opel teammates, eventually finishing the season 14th in the championship standings. However he remained in the DTM with Opel for the 2005 season and finished the year in 8th as best-placed Opel driver, with his best result a 3rd place from pole position at Brno in the Czech Republic. Opel withdrew after the 2005 season, with Frentzen moving to Audi for 2006. By the first race 2006 in Hockenheim he finished at 3rd.

Last Updated on Monday, 12 June 2006 12:21

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