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How did Frentzen slip away from f1 so quietly?


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#1 tom

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 21:15

Then all we heard was Eddie Jordan fired him. :confused:
Oh that makes alot of sense doesnt it. Frentzen was driving like a champion in 99 and 'if' he were in a ferrari that year would've beat mika to the title wouldn't you say?
I heard he was doing some german touring car racing the other year but i can't believe he wan't being hunted down ruthlessly by top teams after such a good year in 99. Anyone know whether he just decided to pack it in?

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#2 V8 Fireworks

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 21:17

Didn't he drive for Arrows, Sauber etc after Jordan?

Yes, Frentzen would have been far better driver for Toyota than the ones they had at the time...

#3 Anomnader

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 21:20

Early day Heidfeld? certain drivers just seem to slip under the radar.

#4 SeanValen

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 21:23

Some drivers who are good sometimes get into a car and environment that just suites them and gives them confidence to do things at this high level at least once.

Observe Jarno Trulli up until and including Monaco 2004, putting pressure on Alonso, his best season, even if it was half of one before he was let go by Briatore.


Frentzen admitted I remember it was his own fault he didn't excel at Williams in 1997, but he did in 1999, 1999 we also had Rubens looking good in that Steward car, Rubens was hot property coming into ferrari in 2000 after 1999.

It shows how difficult it is to be consistently good in f1, not every driver likes every car, I'm sure Fisi can beat alot of drivers in a bad car but put him in a really good one and he won't do the business for some reason, it's odd, but not all drivers excel everytime.

And speaking about Frentzen, he never to me looked like someone with absolute conviction that he wanted to win the title, he always looked like he was blessed to just be in f1, he was content in not being under pressure situations and responsility of leading a team for wins. Truli is of the same boat as well, occassional performers.

Edited by Gareth, 12 January 2010 - 10:39.
Removing OT segment on Alonso/Trulli/Flav


#5 aditya-now

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 21:25

Early day Heidfeld? certain drivers just seem to slip under the radar.


Yes, it is quite a parallel to the slipping of Heidfeld, and again unfairly so. Both are/were sublime and very efficient drivers, but probably exactly that is the reason why this type of drivers is so readily overlooked: not sensational enough, not enough PR-impact, and just not, even by an iota, fast enough. Without the 2009 season, Jenson Button could have ended up in the same category.

So if you address the question more broadly (the Frentzen/Heidfeld type of driver) it has a place in RC, otherwise this thread may end up in NF.

Edited by aditya-now, 10 January 2010 - 21:26.


#6 jeze

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 21:33

Frankly, he was 36 years old and had driven the wheels of the Sauber in 2003. Political issues played their part, as did Sauber's desire to sign Fisichella from Jordan. They poached Fisi with a promise that he'd be able to test the Ferrari F2004, which he ultimately didn't get. He got the Renault seat as a reward for his strong performances in the team, though. The second drive was chosen by Ferrari, and that was why Massa got that one. I think he's made rather good use of his second chance. But, Frengtzen was just a victim of circuistance, and he couldn't find funds to by the Jordan (!) seat he desired, so Heidfeld got that one.

#7 WACKO

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 21:49

Matter of the wrong place at the wrong time. The Jordan decision to fire him was always a bit clouded. There was a difference of opinion, but it was exaggerated. Fact was that Alesi was done with Prost and Jordan wanted him in the car regardless. Frentzen finished the season, had a reasonable year at Arrows, but it was nothing special. His Sauber season in 2003 was a bit bleak although he was on a par with Heidfeld. It's strange, because he used to be regarded the biggest German talent once, but he never really made it work for himself. His weakness maybe was his modesty. He isn't a show man and perhaps didn't push enough (or in the right way) to really get things his way.

#8 Rob

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 22:18

Early day Heidfeld? certain drivers just seem to slip under the radar.


The difference is that Frentzen was very much on the radar. He joined Williams at the height of their competitiveness and disappointed.

#9 tkulla

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 22:34

Once he left Jordan he went to a couple of teams that then folded (Prost and Arrows) before what ended up as his farewell season in F1 alongside Heidfeld in the Sauber. He easily matched Nick that year, but at 36 and with an erratic history just wasn't the mentor type that teams look for older drivers to take. His time in DTM was a little disappointing, and once again chose the wrong horse in Opel. Frentzen was the best Opel in their final year (2005) scoring a couple of third place finishes. He moved to Audi (a Mercedes reunion would have been nice a la Schumi this year but didn't happen for some reason) for a season and took home a couple more third place finishes, but never really felt the support he (especially) needs to be very successful. He was a solid touring car driver, but couldn't justify his high price tag, I suppose. In 2008 he raced Le Mans for Aston Martin, but didn't appear there this year and seems to have quietly retired.



#10 Group B

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 22:40

For me, probably the biggest under-achiever of the last 20 years. Shame :well:

#11 Rob

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 22:47

For me, probably the biggest under-achiever of the last 20 years. Shame :well:


I don't know about that. He won a race, which is a lot more than Jan Magnussen did.

#12 tkulla

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 22:52

He won three, actually. And with two different teams.

#13 Group B

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 23:00

I don't know about that. He won a race, which is a lot more than Jan Magnussen did.

True, but that's partially the point; JM never convinced me he could 'get it done' in F1. H2F, on the other hand, showed at times (such as Jordan '99) what he was capable of and what could have been. SFW signed him because he was reputed to be the man who was faster than MS, which in a way I suspect he was; difference is, I guess, that MS brought a raft of other qualities/characteristics to the party.

#14 BullHead

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 23:01

He put that Prost on p4 at Spa. That was special... back in them days with the time spread we had.

#15 tkulla

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 23:11

True, but that's partially the point; JM never convinced me he could 'get it done' in F1. H2F, on the other hand, showed at times (such as Jordan '99) what he was capable of and what could have been. SFW signed him because he was reputed to be the man who was faster than MS, which in a way I suspect he was; difference is, I guess, that MS brought a raft of other qualities/characteristics to the party.


And I would bet that if Frank could do that one over again, he'd still hire Frentzen. But he and Patrick Head would provide him with the support he needed instead of expecting him to be Alan Jones.

#16 JSDSKI

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 23:15

He put that Prost on p4 at Spa. That was special... back in them days with the time spread we had.


He was special in places like Spa....

I always thought his weakness was development and setup. Had a ton of natural talent and tended to "drive" around problems rather than solving them. I remember P. Head complaining that HHF could get lost in setup at times - leading the engineers on a wild goose chase.

#17 Romulus

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 00:04

HHF was such a cool guy. My favourite driver in his entire career. Still has his helmet as my profile picture.

Recap from the French GP in 1999, one of hist best races http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

Other classic HHF moment when gave Mark Blundell the finger in Adelaide 1995. Video

Edited by Romulus, 11 January 2010 - 00:08.


#18 as65p

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 00:25

True, but that's partially the point; JM never convinced me he could 'get it done' in F1. H2F, on the other hand, showed at times (such as Jordan '99) what he was capable of and what could have been. SFW signed him because he was reputed to be the man who was faster than MS, which in a way I suspect he was; difference is, I guess, that MS brought a raft of other qualities/characteristics to the party.


He, who would have thought we'd agree about a driver one day...  ;) :up:

Talent-wise, Frentzen was second to none. But from what I've seen he was too much of an introvert and ultimately lacked ambition to succeed. IMO it all just didn't mean that much to him.

In a way it's a shame, at the same time we have to accept that's the man he is. Talent alone just isn't enough.

#19 Misk

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 02:02

Other classic HHF moment when gave Mark Blundell the finger in Adelaide 1995. Video

Totally deserved. It was outrageous of Blundell not to let him through earlier.

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#20 tom

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 02:40

I remember he was always good at saving his tyres, and sometimes set his fastest laps on the last lap of the race, a real character alright. Just a shame the whole hard-headed williams environment didn't suit him or he could've had a much better career.
Maybe i'm, just getting older but i can't help but think people like mika/ frentzen and jv could do alot better than some of the newbies filtering into f1.

#21 stevewf1

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 04:30

And I would bet that if Frank could do that one over again, he'd still hire Frentzen. But he and Patrick Head would provide him with the support he needed instead of expecting him to be Alan Jones.


I've heard that Frank and Patrick expect all their drivers to be "Alan Jones". Jones gave the team their first success (even though Regazzoni won their first GP) and it seems they've never quite accepted the fact that Jones isn't there anymore.



#22 WebBerK

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 05:44

Yup. :up:

I place HeinZweiDrei Frentzen in the rare breed of drivers capable of sustaining a middle team in the grid.
Good speed and development skillz.

I place him in a pedestal together with Barrichello and Paniz.

Nobody notices them, but as a pattern, once they left their teams, the middle sized teams started to fade until the bitter end. :well:

IMO these kind of drivers are paramount to F1.

#23 pgj

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 06:45

Drivers, quite rightly, get judged on their F1 performances by the F1 community. To be a front running F1 driver, they need to be the complete package. Some drivers have all of the driving skills necessary to succeed in F1 but do not have the man-management skills to project their ambition into their team and mould the team around themselves. We see drivers who come into F1 and look to have a big future in the sport. Yet when they move on to a bigger team that should deliver them race wins and championship challenges they seem to evaporate. If a driver does not feel at home with his team and his engineers he will not produce his best.

In HHF's case I always thought that he needed an arm around his shoulder when he was at Williams. My impression is that he did not get it.

#24 Beamer

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 07:51

Totally deserved. It was outrageous of Blundell not to let him through earlier.


I'm espacially impresssed of him doing it while entering the corner under braking!!! :eek:


#25 TheF1PERSON

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 09:04

Drivers, quite rightly, get judged on their F1 performances by the F1 community. To be a front running F1 driver, they need to be the complete package. Some drivers have all of the driving skills necessary to succeed in F1 but do not have the man-management skills to project their ambition into their team and mould the team around themselves. We see drivers who come into F1 and look to have a big future in the sport. Yet when they move on to a bigger team that should deliver them race wins and championship challenges they seem to evaporate. If a driver does not feel at home with his team and his engineers he will not produce his best.

In HHF's case I always thought that he needed an arm around his shoulder when he was at Williams. My impression is that he did not get it.



It's kind of ironic that Frentzen was the driver that Frank Williams pushed hard to get ever since the death of Ayrton Senna. Yet when they finally did get him, he wasn't what they hoped he'd be, so they gave him to Jordan so that they could have Ralf Schumacher.

#26 Rob

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 09:19

And I would bet that if Frank could do that one over again, he'd still hire Frentzen. But he and Patrick Head would provide him with the support he needed instead of expecting him to be Alan Jones.


Frank said once that replacing Damon Hill with Frentzen was his biggest mistake.

#27 Bernd

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 09:47

Nah that'd be hiring Nancy.

As for HHF I always liked him, he seemed like a seriously cool guy and by Christ was he quick on his day.

#28 lustigson

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 09:50

Wasn't Heinz-Harald Frentzen regarded as a better driver than Michael Schumacher, prior to them arriving in Formula One?

#29 Group B

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 10:04

He, who would have thought we'd agree about a driver one day... ;) :up:

Talent-wise, Frentzen was second to none. But from what I've seen he was too much of an introvert and ultimately lacked ambition to succeed. IMO it all just didn't mean that much to him.

In a way it's a shame, at the same time we have to accept that's the man he is. Talent alone just isn't enough.

:D :kiss: We have our moments.

As pjg said, I'm inclined to think that HH just didn't have the confidence, drive and power of character to make a team come to him and work for him in the same was MS did. Almost a case of being to nice a guy.

#30 Pilla

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 10:07

I think that he is now building his own hybrid racing car, I don't know where he intends to race it though.

#31 fetzo

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 10:31

Wasn't Heinz-Harald Frentzen regarded as a better driver than Michael Schumacher, prior to them arriving in Formula One?


Yes! Even Karl Wendlinger was regarded as a better driver than Schumi before joining in Formula One. According to Peter Sauber, MS, KW & HHF drove for Mercedes-Junior / Sauber Motor-Sport in the early years, that Frentzen was the man with the most talent, but it came to nothing. When Frentzen made jokes with the mechanics, Schumacher was working in the garage oder even on the circuit. Schumacher was the most professionell of them.

Even Senna said, that Frentzen was a big talent.

Frentzen and Williams were a bad match. He needed a "good" environment, in Germany we called it "Warmes Zuhause" or so, not an adverse environment ;)

#32 ivanalesi

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 10:52

It was just some press bs this, Schumacher was regarded as the most talented even back then. He was 2nd in his 1st season in F3, almost won Macau on debut and won everything the second season. In endurance racing, probably the majority of F1 drivers would suck, but it's endurance racing.
HHF was quite good, but tended to have problems in his teams for whatever reason. It was Williams, Jordan and then even at Sauber in the end he wasn't exactly happy. If he had the team fully supporting, he was quite a quick driver. IMO he was the best driver in 1999.
Nowadays he's again under the radar, testing from time to time a Gumbert Apollo and stopped racing in the DTM, I think he didn't get a win there. Wendlinger made a career in GT racing, but he doesn't have the many millions from F1.

#33 Rob

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 10:56

Frentzen was good but I think Wendlinger was the real talent. He never really recovered from his shunt though. When he returned, he seemed to have lost something.

#34 Muzzinho

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 10:58

He left, became a sex addict and starred in the American series, Californication

#35 johnmhinds

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 11:54

Frank said once that replacing Damon Hill with Frentzen was his biggest mistake.


Maybe it was, but ever since the mid 90s Frank has been constantly looking for the next Schumacher, and passing on other more talented drivers in the process.

H H Frentzen
Ralf Schumacher
Nico Rosberg
and now Nico Hulkenburg

Edited by johnmhinds, 11 January 2010 - 11:56.


#36 TheF1PERSON

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 12:03

I believe Frank Williams also said that his biggest regret was not signing Michael Schumacher.

#37 wingwalker

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 12:21

Other classic HHF moment when gave Mark Blundell the finger in Adelaide 1995. Video



Which is what I have in my avatar. Always liked the guy, too.

#38 Rob

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 12:22

HHF is an undertaker by trade. Always thought that was amusing :)

#39 johnmhinds

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 15:09

I believe Frank Williams also said that his biggest regret was not signing Michael Schumacher.


When did he ever have the chance to sign Schumacher?

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#40 TheF1PERSON

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 15:11

I don't think he had the chance.

#41 WebBerK

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 15:23

The problem is Frentzen wasn't the best suited driver in terms of mental fortitude for Williams environment.

Eddie Jordan said that frentzen was a nightmare bcs he wanted to interfere everywhere in the car development, guiding the engineers.
Of course, to act that way, the driver must feel welcome by the technical department.

At Williams, an "engineer team", even Senna felt ignored/unconfortable when asking for modifications in the car.
At McLaren, the mechanics would rush to attend every milimetric change request about anything.

So Frentzen and Williams was a mismatch. :cry:

#42 WebBerK

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 15:29

I believe Frank Williams also said that his biggest regret was not signing Michael Schumacher.

I though that Frank Williams said that his biggest regret was signing Mark Webber.

#43 teejay

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 15:51

A bit harsh on Mark really.

While I love the guy, Zanardi was probably one of their worst signings.

#44 Boing 2

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 16:29

The problem is Frentzen wasn't the best suited driver in terms of mental fortitude for Williams environment.

Eddie Jordan said that frentzen was a nightmare bcs he wanted to interfere everywhere in the car development, guiding the engineers.
Of course, to act that way, the driver must feel welcome by the technical department.

At Williams, an "engineer team", even Senna felt ignored/unconfortable when asking for modifications in the car.
At McLaren, the mechanics would rush to attend every milimetric change request about anything.

So Frentzen and Williams was a mismatch. :cry:


just read maurice hamiltons book on frank williams, bloody good read and a lot of nice stories/comments. One was by alex wurtz, he says at an early test session he made some comments on the handling and gave theories that he thought the suspension geometry needed changed, by the second test there was new geometry on the car. Wurtz says he was shocked at the speed of resonse as some teams would take half a season to be convinced of a mistake and that he's never worked for a team that is so ready to listen to it's drivers. He claims that if patrick trusts you he'll listen to anything you say, maybe he just didn't trust frentzen?

#45 Boing 2

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 16:32

I've heard that Frank and Patrick expect all their drivers to be "Alan Jones". Jones gave the team their first success (even though Regazzoni won their first GP) and it seems they've never quite accepted the fact that Jones isn't there anymore.



i don't think it's that they can't accept jones isn't there, it's just that they are a couple of pragmatic and self contained characters who don't think drivers should be mollycoddled.

#46 Ghostrider

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 16:32

Doesn't really answer to the question asked in the threadtitle, but anyway, it was just great to see Frentzen in 99. One of few drivers in the F1-field I have taken a personal liking in. :up:

#47 Boing 2

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 16:43

didn't frentzen sue EJ? drivers who do that rarely get a berth elsewhere.

#48 Scudetto

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 19:39

The problem is Frentzen wasn't the best suited driver in terms of mental fortitude for Williams environment.


Heinz probably had a hard time looking up the pit lane seeing Corinna in the Ferrari garage and dwelling on what could have been.

#49 Galko877

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 19:44

I though that Frank Williams said that his biggest regret was signing Mark Webber.


Well, apparently he had many regrets. :p

#50 TheF1PERSON

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 19:56

To be fair I probably got that from someone on the BBC website's comments, so it might not be true.