Friday, 8 July 2016

Claudia Steffek

Claudia Steffek is an Austrian former Formula 3 driver who had a high profile during her short career in the late 1990s. She was a rival to her fellow Austrian, Osmunde Dolischka, and was touted as a Formula One hopeful.

After a short but successful karting career from the ages of thirteen to sixteen, she started racing Formula Ford at 17, in 1996. Her first season brought her first win, in the last race of the year, at Brno.

A second season in Formula Ford followed. She was second in the German international championship. No race results are forthcoming for this series. With some good performances in Formula Ford under her belt, Claudia was keen to progress up the ladder. The same year, she stepped up to Formula 3, in the Zone A European series, and was apparently third in the championship. Unfortunately, no results for that championship are forthcoming either.  She was driving for the Italian ADM team, who would continue to support her for the next two seasons.

Formula 3 was her main focus in 1998, and here, she starts to turn up on the bigger starting grids that are still available to consult. Claudia appears in the Austrian and Central European championships, driving an Alfa Romeo-engined Dallara F391, under the banner of her own Claudia Steffek Racing Team. She had a best finish of fourth in the Austrian championship, at Brno, in September. In addition to this, she was fifth on several occasions. She was running in the Austria Cup class for older cars, but finished above drivers in much more recent machinery more than once. Her final position was sixth in Austrian F3, and she was also fifth in the Austrian Racing Championship.

1999 was her best season yet. She had secured sponsorship from Fujitsu Siemens, from under the nose of her female opponent, Osmunde Dolischka. This caused some rancour, but did not affect Claudia’s on-track performances too much. This year, she had access to a newer car, a 1994 Dallara, and her year started promisingly with a fifth place at Spielberg. She was then fourth at Most, eighth twice at Brno, and in August, secured her first Formula 3 podium, a third at Most. This then improved to a second place, at Rijeka in Croatia. She would also score a third and fifth at this track. The final meeting, at Brno, gave her another third, and a fifth. Her consistency and speed meant that she was an impressive third in the Austrian F3 championship.

For the 2000 season, she set her sights on Italian Formula 3000. She was named as a driver for the Malta Racing* team in March, and stated that her aim was to be racing in Formula One by 2002. The team, however, pulled out before the season started, and she does not appear to have raced since. This does suggest that she lost more than sponsorship, and that her own money may have been taken. It is a shame that she did not get the chance to make a comeback, as she was still only twenty when her career finished.

*no connection is implied with other motorsport organisations with similar names.

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1 comment:

  1. It is a shame that Claudia had to curtail her career just at an age where she would have been expected to really start to blossom as a driver.