Former Formula One driver and two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Alex Wurz has announced his retirement from driving, following next weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship season-ending Six Hours of Bahrain.
The 41-year-old Austrian will hang up his helmet following a lengthy career in F1 and most recently sports car racing with Toyota Gazoo Racing, where spearheaded the Japanese manufacturer’s factory LMP1 program.
“After 12 years as a race and third driver in F1, I was lucky to indulge a passion for Le Mans Prototype racing for a further eight seasons,” Wurz said.
“That means I’ve enjoyed half of my lifetime competing at the top of motorsport and another quarter of it working my way up there, so I feel the time is right to call it a day and bring my career as a professional racing driver to a close.”
Wurz, who was the first driver signed by Toyota in 2011, delivered the team’s first pole position and win in Brazil in 2012, in just the Toyota TS030 Hybrid’s third race.
Prior to joining Toyota, Wurz enjoyed a four-year stint with Peugeot, highlighted by overall victory at Le Mans in 2009 to go along with his triumph in a Joest Porsche in 1996.
“I’ve a lot to be grateful for and a lot I’m proud of,” he said. “My two Le Mans wins will always be the most special and unforgettable, along with the Silverstone podium in my 3rd Formula 1 race.
“In F1, I feel hugely privileged to have driven for top F1 teams like Benetton, McLaren and Williams, and added a bit of silverware to their trophy cabinets. I loved the testing and development work, collaborating with the engineers to find ever more performance.
“LMP1 brought some epic battles and crushing retirements. Nothing beats the Le Mans podiums, but the Sebring 12h, Petit Le Mans and securing Toyota’s first WEC victory were pretty special too.”
Wurz, the president of the Grand Prix Drivers Association, has vowed to remain active in the sport through multiple projects.
“My future will still evolve around racing, its in my blood after all,” he said. “Anyone who knows me, knows that I always have lots of projects on the go which includes growing my road safety and race track design business.”
While Toyota has yet to name Wurz’s replacement in its WEC program next year, it’s understood test and reserve driver Kamui Kobayashi is a leading candidate to fill the tall Austrian’s seat in 2016 alongside Mike Conway and Stephane Sarrazin.