Spyker have today confirmed that test driver Markus Winkelhock will make his debut in Formula One at this weekends European Grand Prix. Winkelhock replaces the ousted Dutch driver Christijan Albers, who was fired from the team due to a sponsor supposedly not paying the team. An argument has since erupted though, as the company involved is now saying that they were not sponsoring the team or driver this year.
But politics aside, Markus is obviously delighted at the prospect of launching his F1 career at his home race.
Obviously it’s a dream come true. I haven’t had much time in the car this year but I’m physically and mentally prepared. It’s a one-off opportunity at the moment and I will make the most of it. Markus Winkelhock.
The current contract with Markus is only for one race, and the team are yet to announce what will be happening post-Nurburgring. It is thought that the Dutch team will want a driver who can pay his way through sponsorship. Narain Karthikeyan, Christian Klien and GP2 racer Roldan Rodriguez are all still possibilities.
I am pleased to be able to reward Markus for his patience and loyalty to the team over the last 18 months with his F1 debut at the Nurburgring. Colin Kolles.
Markus will become the fifth German driver to line up on the grid at the weekend, following Nick Heidfeld, Ralf Schumacher, Nico Rosberg and Adrian Sutil. It looks somewhat suspicious that on the first German race after the retirement of Michael Schumacher and thus with TV viewers in Germany in the decline, that all of a sudden we have so many German drivers racing at the Nurburgring. It is possible that Bernie Ecclestone has intervened, maybe even paid Spyker to run Markus (whose father raced in F1 during the ’80s). After all, the diminutive Brit has done so in the past. But I’ll let you decide on that one.
I’m very happy that Markus Winklehock has been given his F1 debut by Spyker after all the hard work he’s done for them. It’s just a pity he found the car so awkward – it just didn’t want to go round some corners…
That said, maybe it was just as well – by having such an abysmal qualifying, he ended up on the “it’s-risky-but-we’ve-got-nothing-to-lose” strategy and pulled out that enormous lead. He might not have finished the race, but I doubt his debut will be forgotten in a hurry!