Teams Heinz-Harald Frentzen
Races: 160Heinz-Harald Frentzen: The Much Heralded FlickerBy Jeremy McMullenPage: 1 2 next >>
Career Points: 174
By the time Heinz-Harald Frentzen would get his great opportunity with Williams-Renault, Michael Schumacher was already a double World Champion. Formula One fans and writers drooled at the possibilities. Frentzen had been dubbed the 'man who is quicker than Schumacher'. Everything seemed in place for Frentzen to become a double World Champion on the trot just like his fellow countryman. It would be terrible pressure that would squeeze the life, the flame out of the young man. There would be more than a few flickers of brilliance, but his career would never be allowed enough room to breathe to fully ignite.
The reputation would come as a result of some tremendous battles with Schumacher in the German F3 series. Throughout 1989 these two would go toe-to-toe battling it out. Ultimately, Frentzen would beat out Schumacher but would finish the series in 2nd place behind Karl Wendlinger. Throughout the season the battle between the two Germans had been hard-fought and controversial. This competitiveness and drive earned Heinz-Harald a lot of supporters.
Frentzen would earn a number of supporters throughout his racing career, particularly his early years. Frentzen had an interest in motor racing from a young age but didn't necessarily have a means by which to exercise his interest. However, his father would help with his son's pursuit by balking at buying a new car for the family. Instead, he would buy his son a racing kart.
Soon afterward, Frentzen would begin racing karts. This would be the first time in which the names Frentzen and Schumacher would be locked in duels on the race track. Heinz-Harald would be serious about his intent and would not only fight with everything he had on the track, even his dad would go so far as to smuggle special tires from Italy into the country just to help his son get a ‘leg-up' on the competition.
The passion and determination would pay off and Frentzen would soon step up to Formula Ford and Formula Opel Lotus Challenge racing. The boy from Moenchengladbach continued to impress as he would come away with two victories and five more podium finishes during the 1987 Formula Ford Championship. He would finish the championship in 2nd place that year and would earn him a spot on Jochen Mass' Formula Opel Lotus team the following year. The 1988 season would be even more successful for Frentzen as he would enjoy no less than seven victories en route to the championship. This would set the stage for him to join the Schuebel team in Formula 3 in 1989. The famous duels were just about to commence.
There was some added motivation to the intriguing battles between Frentzen and Schumacher. At stake was a test in Formula One. Furthermore, it would be at this point that Frentzen had to decide within himself whether or not motorsport was his passion. The increase in costs and the necessity to provide the results each and every time in order to gain support from sponsors meant there was a whole new level of seriousness. Heinz-Harald wouldn't just accept this. He would seem to flourish finishing just one point behind Wendlinger in the championship and in a tie with Schumacher. It was a truly remarkable season and the name of Heinz-Harald Frentzen certainly seemed to belong among those to watch for the future.
|At the same time he would be locked in tremendous fights with Wendlinger and Schumacher, Frentzen would be selected, along with the other two German young guns, to become the ‘junior team' for Mercedes-Benz in the Sportscar World Championship. Suddenly, Frentzen would go from Formula 3 cars producing around 170hp to Silver Arrow prototypes producing around 900hp!|
|2003||Sauber C22||Petronas 03A|
|2002||Arrows A23||Cosworth CR-3 and Cosworth CR-4|
|2002||Sauber C21||Petronas 02A|
|2001||Jordan EJ11||Honda RA001E|
|2000||EJ10B||Mugen-Honda MF-301 HE|
|2000||EJ10||Mugen-Honda MF-301 HE|
|1999||199||Mugen-Honda MF-301 HD|
|1997||Williams FW19||Renault RS9 3.0 V10|
|1996||C15||Ford JD Zetec-R 3.0 V10|
|1995||C14||Ford ECA Zetec-R 3.0 V8|
|1994||C13||Mercedes-Benz 2175B 3.5 V10|
Nothing would come about with Mercedes-Benz's sportscar program in 1989 so Frentzen would fill the remainder of his time by competing in Formula 3000. Frentzen would join Eddie Jordan's team and would be a teammate to Eddie Irvine. Jordan's team had provided Jean Alesi the championship the year before, and so, the future looked bright for the German.
In 1990, Frentzen would focus on two different series. He would continue to take part in Formula 3000 with Eddie Jordan's team, and, he would also get the opportunity to take part in some sportscar races behind the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz C11. Frentzen's first performance with the team wouldn't come until September of that year when he partnered with Jochen Mass to race in the Shell Donington Trophy race, which was a round of the World Sports Prototype Championship. Starting 2nd on the grid, Frentzen would be impressive as he and Mass would partner together to finish the race in 2nd place behind the number one C11 driven by Mauro Baldi and Jean-Louis Schlesser.
A 2nd place in his first drive in a prototype sportscar would have seemed to be the beginning of a great and promising career, but it would actually be nothing more than bone thrown Frentzen's way. Wendlinger had already earned a victory in the C11 by that point and the pairing of Wendlinger and Schumacher appeared to be the future of Mercedes-Benz in sportscar racing. The door had been left for Heinz-Harald but he would be swayed to leave behind sportscars believing the drive with Eddie Jordan would pay bigger dividends. Unfortunately, Frentzen would find his dividends were few in number. Eddie Jordan was already in process of making his own way to Formula One. This meant his Formula 3000 team took up less of his time and efforts. Frentzen had joined a team that was becoming a shell of its former self, as far as Formula 3000 was concerned. Frentzen wouldn't help his cause much though either. Poor performances would cause many to think this young man, that at one time had been faster than Schumacher, had reached his limits, though he had never had the opportunity to find out just what his limits really were.
Bernie Ecclestone had been making a push for a German to be a part of the Formula One World Championship. And, in 1991, after a certain Belgian Grand Prix, Ecclestone and everyone else believed they had found who they had been looking for. Sadly, Frentzen was not it. Interestingly, it would be Eddie Jordan's new Formula One team that would leave Frentzen hanging in Formula 3000 and that would propel Michael Schumacher to Formula One stardom. Frentzen may have been faster than Michael on the track at times, but Schumacher had gotten the jump on him here. Throughout 1990 and 1991 Heinz-Harald's promising career was heading in a steep downward decline until the German had absolutely no contracts for any form of racing in 1992.
Frentzen seemed without hope. Then, sadly, Volker Weidler would suffer a terrible accident in a Formula 3000 race. The accident would be terrible and would force Weidler to have to retire from racing, but not before he got to name his successor.
Weidler's greatest day in motor racing came on the 22nd and 23rd of June in 1991 when he helped Mazda become the first Japanese manufacturer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Weidler's reputation in Japan was strong, this victory practically made him a hero, and whoever he named as his successor was going to be given an open door. And, though he barely knew Frentzen, Weidler would choose his fellow countryman. Just like that, the flame of Frentzen's career, which had been smoldering at the start of 1992, would reignite.
Frentzen would be on his way to Japan to race in Formula 3000 there. He would also take part in sportscar races there in the country and would suddenly have a testing job for Bridgestone driving a Tyrrell-Mugen Honda Formula One car. All of a sudden, the man that had no options at the start of the year was already being considered for a Formula One seat in the very near future.
But before that jump to Formula One, Frentzen would drive in the 24 Hours of Le Mans finishing a very respectable 13th for the Euro Racing team in a Lola T92. He would end up on the podium a couple of times while driving the Lola prototype sportscar in 1992 proving to many that he was stronger than ever having faced the stark reality of having his racing career come to a very early end.
Though he would find himself with a renewed hope, Frentzen's career would remain relatively hidden away in Japan. He would continue to enjoy a certain amount of success. However, on a more global stage, Heinz-Harald would make really just a single appearance when he took part in the 1000 Kilometers of Suzuka in a Nissan R93CK. In that race he would start from pole-position and would end up finishing in 2nd place. This performance, and his results in Japan, would help his next steps coming to fruition.
Thankfully for Heinz-Harald he would get something of a second chance, but in the series he had always been gunning for in the first place. When Frentzen had the opportunity to drive for Mercedes-Benz, the team was operated by Peter Sauber and was known as Team Sauber Mercedes. And, just when it seemed his career had stalled-out, Peter Sauber would make his own move into Formula One just as Eddie Jordan had done. Sauber would have Mercedes support and have tremendous potential. Sauber already had his drivers, but J.J. Lehto would leave the team in 1994 to drive for Benetton. The team was still new but showing its potential. It was very similar to Frentzen who had shown his skills at certain points, but was still relatively young as well. Whatever the reasons, Sauber would contact Frentzen and would offer him his chance at Formula One.
Not wanting to make the same mistake again by turning his back on Sauber, Frentzen would take the offer to drive for the Sauber team in 1994. Finally, his time had come. Wanting to demonstrate his worth immediately, Frentzen would qualify 5th for his very first race, the Brazilian Grand Prix. However, his real potential at the wheel of a Formula One car would come to the fore at the next round of the championship, the race at Aida.Page: 1 2 next >>