Alexander Wurz was born on February 15th, 1974 at Waidhofen in Austria. He is the second son to Franz Wurz – an experienced and champion rallycross driver.
Initially, Alex chose BMX bike riding as a sport, and excelled almost immediately, winning the 1986 World Championship. However, although BMX riding was something Alex enjoyed, he was pushed by his father to attempt motorsport, and his first taste of driving came with karting events. By 1991, Alex was participating in Formula Ford, and he moved on to Formula Three in 1993. In 1996, Wurz changed categories to DTM, and drove for the Opel Calibra Joest team. In the same year, Wurz also competed in the Le Mans 24, and won together with Davy Jones and Manuel Reuter – Alex became the races youngest winner at the time.
By 1997, Alex was in Formula One and driving for the Benetton team. Wurz was chosen to replace fellow countryman Gerhard Berger, and managed a podium in only his third race, and this performance gained him a full race seat for the following year. Unfortunately, the Benetton car was under-performing and the team couldn’t replicate the results of the early 1990’s. Despite this though, Wurz spent three years with the team, but he was demoralised by his team mate – Giancarlo Fisichella – in the final season.
With Alex’s stock falling, he couldn’t find a decent drive for the 2001 season, and chose instead to test for the McLaren team. Wurz’s time at McLaren was well spent, and he helped the team to achieve many great milestones, enabling the full time drivers Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard, Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya to win many races and challenge for titles. In 2005, Alex stepped up to the race seat in San Marino when Montoya was injured playing tennis. Wurz finished fourth in the race, but was promoted to third after both the BAR Honda’s were disqualified. This little moment marked a new record in Formula One for the longest time between podiums – eight years. Another notable fact coming from the San Marino race that year was the way Alex had to drive his McLaren. Wurz is a very tall man (186cm), and the car was not perfectly suited to his size. This made driving uncomfortable for Alex, and at times he was forced to drive one-handed.
This uncomfortable experience didn’t discourage Wurz though, and he soon started to itch for a race seat again. In 2003, he was linked to the failing Jaguar team, but McLaren blocked the move because they needed Alex’s expertise in improving their own failing car. In 2005 it was rumoured a switch to Red Bull was on the cards for Alex. So much so, that McLaren didn’t bother adjusting their test car for Alex because they were so sure the Austrian would be driving for Austrian-owned Red Bull that year, but the move failed to materialise.
Alex managed to get a change of scenery in 2006 though, when the Austrian moved to Williams to become their test and reserve driver alongside Indian Narain Karthikeyan. After proving to the team that he is still as motivated as ever, Williams announced late in 2006 that Alex would be drafted in to replace the out-going Mark Webber for 2007. After five years Alex will be racing again, and his expert knowledge in the technical aspects of Formula One will prove invaluable to the team and his younger less-experienced team mate, Nico Rosberg.
Outside of Formula One, Alex is married and has two sons, Charlie and Felix. Alex also still enjoys bike riding, and in 2000, he started a mountain bike team – Rainer-Wurz – with fellow countryman Marcus Rainer. The team are sponsored by Siemans, who also sponsor former employers of Alex, the McLaren Formula One team. Rainer-Wurz have won many World Cups and currently enjoy a lot of success.