Motor racing life and legacy of Manfred Winkelhock

Manfred Winkelhock, Team ATS - 1984 South African Grand Prix

© / Cahier Archive

German driver Manfred Winkelhock took part in 56 Grand Prix events between 1980 and 1985 during which time he raced for Arrows, ATS, Brabham and RAM Racing.

He made his way into Formula 1 after a spell racing in Formula 2, which included a notorious crash at the Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit in 1980. His March flipped over at the steep rise-and-fall Flugplatz corner, but he miraculously escaped serious injury.

Later that year, Winkelhock got his big break in F1. He was asked to fill in for the injured Jochen Mass at Arrows, but failed to qualify for the race itself.

He didn't get a regular Formula 1 race seat until 1982, when he joined Team ATS alongside Eliseo Salazar. He finished in the top ten in his first outing for them in South Africa and then clinched points next time out in Brazil with fifth place.

Unfortunately that was the high point of Winkelhock's F1 career, and he never succeeded in finishing in the points again. After three seasons with ATS (and one outing with Brabham in Portugal at the end of 1984) he moved to RAM Racing for the 1985 season.

RAM was struggling, and Winkelhock's best result of the season was 12th in the 1985 French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard. The team folded at the end of the season, but tragically by this time Winkelhock has already been killed in a racing accident.

As well as competing in F1, the 32-year-old had also been a regular sports car and touring car driver and had won that year's 1000km Monza alongside Marc Surer. But on August 12, Winkelhock died after crashing his Porsche 962C at Mosport Park in Toronto, Canada while competing in the Budweiser 1000km World Endurance Championship.

Winkelhock was replaced at RAM by Northern Irish driver Kenny Acheson for the remainder of the Formula 1 season.

His younger brother Joachim was also a racing driver, and was 1993 British Touring Car Champion. He also had a brief spell in F1 in 1989 with AGS although he never successfully qualified to start a Grand Prix in seven attempts.

Manfred's son Markus keeps the family name flying high in motorsport, having competed successfully in Formula 3, DTM, Formula Renault 3.5 Series, GT1 World Championship and the Blancpain Sprint Series.

He also had a brush of his own with F1 as test and reserve driver in the Midland F1 team. After the team morphed into Spyker, he eventually made one Grand Prix race start for them in the 2007 European Grand Prix, only to retire after 13 laps with a hydraulic issue.

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