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Bruno Spengler.
Bruno Spengler.

Motorsports

Bruno Spengler: Canada's unheralded racing champion Add to ...

“It’s not a regret – I don’t regret anything – but I think it’s still possible for me to test the F1 some day,” Spengler says.

One thing is certain: When he raced against proven F1 talent, Spengler was no slouch.

The Elusive Title

Spengler’s teammate in 2006 was Häkkinen, who won 20 F1 races between 1991 and 2001 and took home two consecutive world championships beginning in 1998 with McLaren. Known as the “Flying Finn,” Häkkinen joined the Mercedes DTM squad in 2005 and scored three wins, three poles and eight top-three finishes in 31 starts over three seasons.

“DTM is an extremely competitive series and far more complicated than people can imagine,” Häkkinen explained. “Even as a two-time world champion in F1, you need to adapt and learn quickly. DTM has a lot of experienced drivers, all very talented in that kind of car, so you really need to roll up your sleeves and go for the maximum attack.”

Spengler won a season-high four times in 10 starts during his first year with the top Mercedes team and ended the season second overall in points, while Häkkinen was sixth.

While falling short of the title was disappointing, Spengler fondly remembers a season of battling for wins with the likes of Häkkinen and another ex-F1 star Jean Alesi, as well as DTM legend Bernd Schneider, who won his record fifth championship that year.

“The first time I beat Mika in 2006 was a very special moment for me because I know what he achieved, I know what he did, and I know what he could do,” Spengler said as he smiled broadly.

“Just being up there with these guys was nice and I enjoyed it a lot. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh yeah, I beat these guys.’ They were much more experienced than me and they won in F1 and they won all the championships, so it was more like, ‘It’s nice to race with these guys.’ I learned a lot of things from them.”

He applied the lessons well. In the past seven DTM seasons, the Canadian scored the most points, poles, and wins and finished fifth overall or better since moving up to a factory team. He narrowly missed a title four times and seemed destined to be a perennial bridesmaid until he brought home the hardware in 2012.

Some may have become discouraged after coming up short year after year, but Spengler always saw it differently.

“I heard that question a lot before my last race in 2012: ‘You’ve been so close so often and maybe you don’t have the last luck you need to win the championship.’ …

“I took it lot more positive than negative and people struggle to understand that and I don’t understand why because what can you take as negative? I mean you’re fighting five times to win a championship, you should win it once, at some point. You just have to carry on working and do your best.”

 

THE RISE OF BRUNO SPENGLER

1996Karting

French champion in the Junior Category, scores one win in the Montreal Cup Series.

1997KartingFinishes third overall in the Quebec Karting Junior Cup.
1998KartingTakes third overall in a partial season of Canadian Junior Karting Championhip, with four wins in six starts.
1999Karting

Takes third in the North-American Formula A Karting Championship, fifth in the French Formula A Championship and is 16th overall in the 1999 Formula A World Cup.

2000KartingChampion in the French Formula A Karting Championship, as well as taking two wins in four starts in the Belgian Karting Championship. He was also 7th in the 2000 Karting World Cup.
2001Formula Renault Sport Eurocup and Championnat de France de Formule RenaultSpengler scores his first career victory in a car at the Magny-Cours Circuit in France in the third race of the 2001 Formula Renault Sport Eurocup season. He ends the year ninth overall. Coincidently, his now BMW teammate in DTM, Augusto Farfus was the series champion that year. He also takes one win in the Championnat de France de Formule Renault and finishes fifth overall.
2002German Formula Renault and the Fran-Am 2000 North American Pro ChampionshipSpengler wins six of eight races in the Fran-Am 2000 North American Pro Championship to take the championship. Three wins in German Formula Renault Series put him second overall in the final standings
2003Formula 3 Euroseries with the ASM F3

Spengler crashes his Mercedes-Dallara F3 car heavily in a pre-season test at the Dijon Circuit on March 18 and fractures his L1 vertebrae. He takes three podiums in 14 starts in the Formula 3 Euroseries to finish 10th overall in points despite missing six races.

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