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Wendlinger's F1 future uncertain

AUSTRIAN Karl Wendlinger - a bright young hope in F1 until an accident at Monaco in May 1994, which left him in a coma for several weeks. The Sauber team promised to give Karl a run as soon as he was fit and, after impressive testing last winter, he was signed for this year as team mate to Heinz-Harald Frentzen. His race performances were disappointing, and just before Monaco he was dropped by Sauber in favor of Frenchman Jean-Christophe Boullion.

Sauber gave Karl another chance in the final two races this year, but he failed to impress in Suzuka, and crashed heavily in practice at Adelaide and had to retire from the race with neck pains after just nine laps.

The 26-year-old from Kufstein in Austria has been involved in racing since he was five. In 1981 he met Gerhard Berger, who was racing against his father and they became friends. In 1987, Berger helped Wendlinger to find sponsors in Formula Ford 1600 and then in Formula 3. In 1989, Wendlinger beat Michael Schumacher to the German F3 title and, along with Schumacher and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, was signed to drive for the Mercedes Junior Team in sportscar racing. He made his F1 debut with Leyton House in 1991, and raced for the team in 1992 before rejoining Sauber when it entered F1 in 1993.

Wendlinger's sponsor Red Bull bought a controlling interest in the Sauber team's holding company at the start of this year, but it now seems that Karl will not have a place with Sauber next year.

We hear that Mercedes-Benz is planning to use its influence to help Karl find a drive outside F1 - either in touring car racing or in Indycars.

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