Niki Lauda

The Austrian F1 Drivers: Masters of Speed and Precision

October 18, 2023
Tom Thorns

Austria has a grim history in Formula One, with three Austrian drivers being fatally wounded during competitions. Only the UK has had more driver deaths in F1.

In total, there have been 16 Formula One drivers from Austria, with two of them winning a championship – Niki Lauda and Jochen Rindt.

We’ll talk about the famous Austrian Formula 1 drivers below, so keep reading!

Austrian Drivers Performance Overview in F1

First things first, here’s the overall performance of the Austrian drivers in Formula One:

Grands Prix561
Best Season Finish1st (1970, 1975, 1977, 1984)
Pole Positions46
Fastest Laps49
First Entry1964 Austrian Grand Prix
First Win1969 United States Grand Prix
Latest Win1997 German Grand Prix
Latest Entry2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
2023 DriversNone

Sadly, Austria is not represented in the current Formula One drivers. The last one was Christian Klien during the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

However, the country has two championships won (1969 and 1997), above many other participant countries in Formula One.

Overall, Austria has a rich driving history, with 41 wins, 118 podiums, and four 1st place wins. Even Spain, represented by Fernando Alonso this year, loses out to Austria in terms of total race wins, 1st place wins, and number of world champions.

So, despite its rather morbid Formula One history, Austria is in the top 10 countries with the most points achieved in Formula One.

Let me tell you more about the performance of Austrian Formula One drivers!

All-Time Austrian F1 Drivers

Here’s the performance of all 16 Austrian drivers who have ever participated in an F1 race:

DriversActive YearsEntriesWinsPodiumsCareer PointsPolesFastest LapsChampionships
Jochen Rindt1964-197062 (60 starts)613107 (109)1031 (1970)
Dieter Quester1969, 19742 (1 start)00000-
Helmut Marko1971-197210 (9 starts)00000-
Niki Lauda1971-1979, 1982-1985177 (171 starts)2554420.524243 (1975, 1977, 1984)
Helmuth Koinigg19743 (2 starts)00000-
Harald Ertl1975-1978, 198028 (19 starts)00000-
Otto Stuppacher19763 (0 starts)00000-
Karl Oppitzhauser19761 (0 starts)00000-
Hans Binder1976-197815 (13 starts)00000-
Jo Gartner1984801000-
Gerhard Berger1984-199721010483851212-
Karl Wendlinger1991-199542 (41 starts)3201400-
Roland Ratzenberger19943 (1 start)00000-
Alexander Wurz1997-2000, 2005, 200769004500-
Christian Klien2004-2006, 201051 (49 starts)101400-
Patric Friesacher20051100300-

Five drivers out of the total 16 Austrian F1 drivers have won at least one race throughout the years.

Niki Lauda and Gerhard Berger achieved the most individual points (420.5 and 385), while Jochen Rindt became the first Austrian World Drivers Champion in 1970 after winning five of the nine grands prix.

Austrian drivers have achieved solid performance in greater numbers compared to other countries from F1.

It should be noted that the country didn’t participate in Formula One until 1964, so it was 14 years behind other countries. Still, Austrian Formula One had many achievements over the years with many race winners.

How Many Austrian Drivers Have Won Championships?

Austrian Formula One has had two World Champions – Jochen Rindt in 1970 and Niki Lauda in 1975, 1977, and 1984, making him a three-time world drivers champion.

We’ll discuss both below:

Jochen Rindt

Jochen Rindt
Credit: Jalopnik

Jochen Rindt is the only posthumous World Champion in the world of Formula 1. He died during a weekend practice run while preparing for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza after being severely injured.

By the end of the Season, no other driver on the track had made more points than Rindt. So, he was crowned World Champion posthumously.

Throughout his career, he participated in 62 Grands Prix, won six of them, and got to the podium 13 times. He was a legend in his home country of Austria and was the reason why Formula 1 was popularized in the country.

Jochen Rindt made his debut at the 1964 Austrian Grand Prix, qualifying as the first Austrian racing driver to participate in F1. It wasn’t a great start as he was forced to retire on the 58th lap due to a broken steering column.

His first podium came during the 1966 Belgian Grand Prix, when he overtook World Champion John Surtees on lap four, leading the race. By the end of the 1966 championship, he had reached the podium three times, putting him in third place.

His first championship win came in 1970 while driving for Team Lotus. He had won five of the season’s ten Grands Prix but sadly those victories were short-lived, since he died during a practice run before he could finish the Season.

Belgian F1 driver Jacky Ickx got within 17 points of Rindt, giving him a chance to win.

However, he lost the final two races and eventually, Jochen Rindt was declared the winner of the 1970 championship, posthumously.

There’s no doubt that Rindt would have likely scored more championships for Austria if not for this tragic demise in 1970.

Niki Lauda

Niki Lauda

He’s also recognized for winning championships for teams Ferrari and McLaren, which are currently two of the most successful car constructors in Formula 1.

Throughout his career, he drove for several teams, including March, BRM, Ferrari, Brabham, and McLaren. He has won 25 races, reached the podium 54 times, and scored 420.5 career points.

His first entry was during the 1971 Grand Prix but only won his first race during the 1974 Spanish Grand Prix. He achieved six pole positions during that season and finished fourth eventually.

1975 marked Lauda’s first Drivers Championship win after giving Ferrari their first Constructors’ Championship in 100 years.

During the 1976 season, Lauda had double the championship points of his closest competitors, James Hunt, and Jody Scheckter, so it was almost a guarantee that he'd win two seasons in a row.

Unfortunately, the Nürburgring crash put him into a coma after he suffered severe burns to his head and hands following his car crashing and bursting into flames.

Otherwise, he would have been the first Austrian racing driver to win three seasons back-to-back (after winning the 1977 season).

Even though he struggled with his injuries, Lauda returned to the track after 6 weeks and participated in the Japanese Grand Prix, with driver James Hunt behind him by three points. He eventually placed third.

He easily won the 1977 season with a consistent pace but quit the Ferrari team due to a dispute with the team soon after.

He retired from Formula 1 during the 1979 Canadian Grand Prix and only returned in 1982 for McLaren. He won his third championship in 1984, overtaking his teammate Alain Prost by half a point. His final season was in 1985, after which he retired for good.

Niki Lauda died in 2019 at the age of 70 after struggling with health issues for several years but he remains the one racing driver that all F1 fans know and love.

To this day, Niki Lauda remains the most acclaimed Austrian racing driver, a three-time world champion and the only Austrian racing driver to win his home race in Austria. He was also an aviation entrepreneur, having owned three airlines.

It remains to be seen whether Austria will have another driver racing in Formula One. For now, we’ll wait and see.

Checkout the drivers from other countries in our other nationality-based posts: