Debate: Spyker should keep Winkelhock

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Markus Winkelhock made his Grand Prix debut in yesterday’s European Grand Prix, and thanks to a heavy rain shower and some inspired race strategy he managed to lead the race for six laps.

Winkelhock is only believed to be doing one racing with the Spyker team and he is expected to be replaced at the Hungarian Grand Prix a week on Sunday, probably by Honda tester Christian Klien.

But in the light of him giving Spyker their first ever taste of leading a Grand Prix, and given that he ultimately retired because the car broke down, should Spyker give him another try?

I know I’m being an old romantic here. It was the strategic masterstroke of the Spyker team that put Winkelhock in the lead by switching him to intermediate tyres at the end of the formation lap.

But still the German, in his home event and despite never having driven an F1 car in the wet before, led the race until it was red-flagged. He held the lead for six laps – more than Fernando Alonso, who won.

Yes, his practice pace wasn’t impressive and he qualified last, 1.44s slower than team mate Adrian Sutil.

But it’s not like fielding another driver at the next race is suddenly going to turn Spyker into McLaren. I want to see them give him another try.

Photo: Spyker F1 | Peter J. Fox/

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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7 comments on “Debate: Spyker should keep Winkelhock”

  1. Nathan Jones
    23rd July 2007, 8:24

    he has only done 1 race and mike gascoyne said he’s never driven the car in the wet b4 so they have nothing to lose in giving him another go
    it may have been strategy that put him in the lead but he still had to keep it on the road!

  2. On the other hand, it´s better to quit while you are ahead…

    If he never drives a F1-car again we will remember him as one of the few drivers to lead his debut race, and that from the last grid position. I actually prefer it to stay that way, rather than seeing him be lapped 3-5 times in the next race.

    Let him get some test miles in a better car instead.

  3. Is it really better to be on a crap team and finish outside the points every race, or dominate and spec series like Champ Car and show your true skill?


  4. As you said it was the strategy to put him in front of everybody. Once after restart all driveres had the suitable tyres, he was sliding back the grid, perhaps he was bit too nice to let the front end drivers to pass him…
    I am not sure what financial backing is but I suspect he will not be the front runner in the queue for the seat. In terms of experience there are also few drivers that would serve Spyker better, like Klien for example, or even Karthikeyan.
    Having 2 German driveres in one team is also not the best combination for marketing purposes.
    There si not much in favour for him to keep the race seat.
    The only reason may be if the guys in Spyker wish to see how would he race in normal weather conditions. I would not mind seeing him one more time, but at the end, Spyker will have to pragmatic and practical …

  5. oh, and if he continues to race, he will likely have to sacrifice this:
    – he could stand alone in history as the only man ever to lead his one and only F1 start.
    – He led 46% of his career (6 laps), not as good as Jimmy Clark (49.5%), but better than Juan-Manuel Fangio (45%), Michael Schumacher (37%) and Ayrton Senna (36%)
    (from SpeedTV)

  6. Oh man… as a fan of strange stats i would love to see him never race again.

    But the man is a race driver on the cusp of a carrer in his dream job… I am sure he really would love to drive in any F1 car that will give him a ride… including spyker.

    Listening to itv’s interview with him, he seems like a good guy. I would love to see him do well…

  7. I enjoyed watching Markus Winklehock in the wet, and if Spyker can predict a wet race at some point in the balance of the 2007 season, they should ask him to do it – he is imperious in those conditions.

    However, his dry-weather pace looked pretty poor, especially before the race. As a result, the dry-race driver needs to be someone else – and besides, Spyker need the money.

    That said, Markus was a treat to watch in the race and the last-to-first on debut statistic deserves to last.

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