Ex-F1 racer Alex Wurz announces his retirement from racing

Former Formula 1 racer and two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Alex Wurz has announced his retirement from motorsport

Ex-F1 racer Alex Wurz announces his retirement from racing

The 41-year-old Austrian, who currently races for Toyota in LMP1, will end his career with the World Endurance Championship finale in Bahrain later this month.

"There a couple of reasons for retirement," Wurz told Autosport.

"I know that I am still on it in the car and the laptimes show it but after Le Mans last year [when his car retired from the lead] I never really recovered.

"There are still many races to be run but off the track now rather than on it.

"I'm 41 and I've been racing as a pro since 1996 - so half my life and another quarter getting there.

"Also I've been in professional sport since I was 12, when I started racing BMXs, so that's a long time competing every weekend and pushing myself.

"I still enjoy doing that but I want to divert my energies elsewhere now.

"The Bahrain WEC round will be my last professional race - Toyota have respected my decision."

Wurz's international breakthrough came when a surprise call-up to race Joest's Porsche in 1996 resulted in a Le Mans win at the age of 22.

The Formula 3 graduate was racing for Joest's Opel squad in the International Touring Car Championship at the time, but he returned to single-seaters in 1997 as Benetton's F1 test driver.

That led to a three-race stint standing in for an unwell Gerhard Berger, and a podium finish in the British Grand Prix.

Wurz's main programme that season was in the FIA GT Championship with Mercedes, but he became a full-time F1 racer with Benetton for 1998.

That stint did not live up to the promise of his 1997 outings, and at the end of 2000 he began a new career as McLaren's test driver.

A one-off 2005 outing replacing the injured Juan Pablo Montoya resulted in another podium finish at Imola, after Jenson Button's BAR was excluded, and preceded a switch to a reserve role with Williams and ultimately a racing comeback with the team for '07.

He added a third podium in Canada before leaving F1 to return to sportscars, first with Peugeot - with which he won Le Mans again in 2009 - and then Toyota.

Wurz will honour existing contracts with Williams, for which he acts as a consultant, Austrian broadcaster ORF and Toyota, as well as continuing his role a chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers' Assocation.

He will also be working to develop the circuit design company TTI, that he runs with his father, former rallycross racer Franz Wurz.

He revealed he was offered a role as team principal of the Lotus F1 team earlier this year, but turned it down to continue his focus on racing.

"The good news is that there are options for the future," he said.

"I am going to stay in racing and use my experience - just not inside the car anymore."

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