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Helmuth Koinigg

3rd November 1948
6th October 1974 (Aged 25)
Watkins Glen, New York State (USA), United States GP
Most recent race (in database):

An international skier at an early age, Helmuth Koinigg switched to car racing in 1969 with an ex-Niki Lauda Mini Cooper S. His performances in that car attracted the attention of Formula 1 driver-to-be Helmut Marko. Koinigg raced for Marko in Formula Super Vee from 1971 although his early years were marred by a number of accidents.

However, Koinigg developed as the man to beat and he finished third and second overall before winning the 1973 championship. He also made his Le Mans debut that year with a works Ford Capri 2600LV but engine failure in the 15th hour ended his race. He joined Porsche for the following year’s race but retired again when the Martini RSR turbo caught fire.

Koinigg was intent on making a breakthrough in the competitive world of single-seaters in 1974. He hired an Etienne Aigner Surtees TS10-Ford from Italian racing driver "Shangri-La" for Hockenheim’s Formula 2 race and finished 14th before turning his attention to Grand Prix racing.

Koinigg failed to qualify Scuderia Finotto’s Brabham BT42-Ford for his home race. The inexperienced Austrian then drove a works Surtees TS16-Ford in the final two races of the 1974 World Championship and 10th in Canada prompted positive comments from team owner and press alike. But he was killed on impact after crashing heavily during the United States GP following a puncture or suspension failure.

This was a driver who made a better impression than his results would imply. He struggled for backing but Koinigg was both personable and fast. He never drove a competitive car in an international single-seater race and was lost before his talent could be realised.