Birthplace: Duisberg, West Germany
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Andre Lotterer has been a key member of Audi’s successful endurance racing team. Together with team mates Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer he took them to three of their last four victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
It was that experience which led to him making a surprise F1 debut at the age of 32 when Caterham sought a one-off replacement for Kamui Kobayashi in the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix.
The German driver’s racing career began with a brief spell in single-seater racing in Europe. He enjoyed success in Formula BMW in 1998 and 1999, but a series of tests for Jaguar’s F1 team did not lead to a place in the sport and a one-off Champ Car appearance for Dale Coyne’s team proved another dead end.
Lotterer took the decision to follow a route taken by other European drivers who struggled to find success close to home. He headed to Japan, where he raced in the Formula Nippon single-seater Championship (now Japanese Super Formula) and the Super GT series.
He was successful in both, and came close to winning the Nippon title in his second season. He lost by the slenderest of margins – he and Richard Lyons ended the season with identical points-scoring results, so the title went to the highest-placed driver in the final round, which was Lyons.
Lotterer continued to win regularly and place in the top five in the championship over the coming seasons. He fared even better in Super GT, lifting the title in 2006 and 2009. He finally cracked Nippon in 2011, taking three wins to beat F1 refugee Kazuki Nakajima to the crown.
By now his abilities had attracted attention back in Europe. He impressed on his Le Mans debut in a previous-generation customer Audi R10 in 2009, finishing seventh in a car shared with Narain Karthikeyan and Charles Zolsman Jnr. He was back the following year in a factory-run machine alongside Treluyer and Fassler, the trio finishing second after picking up damage on their car.
He was back for a thrilling duel with the Peugeots the following year. After two of Audi’s three-car squad were eliminated in violent accidents, Lotterer weather severe pressure from their French rivals during a rain showed to keep the sole remaining Audi in front.
The trio won again the following year, this time making history as Audi became the first constructor to win Le Mans using a car with a hybrid drive train. Lotterer hit the front when the sister non-hybrid car pilot by Allan McNish crashed with just under two hours remaining. It put Lotterer and his team mates on course to win the first revived World Endurance Championship title.
Reliability problems in the 2013 race prevented a third win on the trot, but the trio were back on top in 2014, cementing their position as the foremost Le Mans squad. Audi also placed the Lotterer-Treluyer-Fassler trio in other major races, including the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
Lotterer narrowly missed out on a second Super Formula title in 2013, again finishing with the same number of points as the champion, this time Naoki Yamamoto. However a surprise opportunity to enter the top-flight of single-seater racing presented itself the following year when Caterham contracted him to drive Kobayashi’s car in the Belgian Grand Prix.
Andre Lotterer helmet
Andre Lotterer pictures
Images © Caterham/LAT, Audi