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banner Wednesday, 25 July, 2001, 19:38 GMT 20:38 UK
Frentzen: The man behind the wheel
Heinz-Harald Frentzen
Frentzen's Formula One career may be over
On the day he is sacked by Jordan, BBC Sport Online profiles German F1 driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

Born on 18 May, 1967, in Mönchengladbach, Frentzen's interest in motor racing began when his father, an undertaker, bought him a go-kart at the age of 12.

Soon he was racing at the Kerpen track against a certain Michael Schumacher, a man who would provide an uncomfortable comparison point throughout his professional career.

Their rivalry was not confined to the track, either - Schumacher would end up marrying Frentzen's ex-girlfriend Corinna.

Corinne Schumacher
Corinne dated Frentzen before marrying Schumi
Frentzen moved into Formula Ford with the Eifelland Racing team in 1987, driving a Van Diemen and finishing second in the championship.

The following year he switched to Formula Opel Lotus, driving for Jochem Mass' team, and took the championship with seven wins.

By 1989 he was in the German Formula Three championship, driving against Schumacher in a Reynard-VW 894 with Schübel.

He linked up with Eddie Jordan for the first time in 1991 in Formula 3000 - where Eddie Irvine was his team-mate - but had little success for two years.

At the start of 1992 he was without a contract, having left Mercedes' sportscar team to concentrate on Formula 3000, only for his sponsor, Camel cigarettes, to drop him in favour of backing Schumacher in Formula One.

"For someone who considers himself a professional, the future looked grim: I was unemployed, and I can tell you, this was a bitter time," he said later.

He revived his career by spending two years in Japan in Formula Nippon and backed that up by testing for Bridgestone tyres.

As a result, he was offered in 1994 a Formula One drive by Peter Sauber, the man who had been in charge of the Mercedes sportscar team - a Swiss who claimed that Frentzen was, if anything, faster than Schumacher.

Frentzen stayed with the team for three seasons but never finished higher in the Drivers' Championship than ninth in a car that was seldom competitive.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen
Frentzen: Accused of lacking self-confidence

It is an irony that will not be lost on him that Sauber's position this season above Jordan in the Constructors' Championship may have cost him his F1 career.

His big break came in 1997 when Damon Hill left the Williams team.

Frank Williams signed him up and he took his maiden Grand Prix win in Imola.

He went on to finish second in the Drivers' Championship behind team-mate Jacques Villeneuve - partly thanks to the disqualification of Michael Schumacher - but the team struggled the following season.

He moved to Jordan in 1999 and scored two victories, finishing third overall and overshadowing 1996 world champion Damon Hill.

He seemed set for the best period of his career but slipped to ninth in 2000, and that slump has continued into 2001.

His critics always accused him of lacking in self-confidence, and he has been a peripheral figure this season.

Jordan's new "launch control" software failed Frentzen in Barcelona and Austria, and the team decided to de-activate it for Monaco.

Sabotaged

He has not scored a point since April and in the last two races he has finished lower down the field than he started.

Germany's SID news agency quoted Frentzen's father as saying his son's career had been sabotaged.

"It's not at all normal that the car continues to fail in the races and in the tests everything works wonderfully. Someone is pressing the buttons."

Frentzen, who lists flying model airplanes and listening to Simple Minds among his hobbies, was replaced by Ricardo Zonta at the Canadian Grand Prix in June after he pulled out of practice complaining of headaches following a heavy accident.

And his future was the subject of intense speculation before the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, with reports linking him with F1 newcomers Toyota and a move to Cart in the United States.

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Heinz-Harald Frentzen has driven his last race for JordanEnd of the road
Jordan sack Heinz-Harald Frentzen
See also:

25 Jul 01 |  Motorsport
Frentzen sacked by Jordan
09 Jun 01 |  Formula One
Eye problems force out Frentzen
24 Jul 01 |  Formula One
Schumacher fit for record bid
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