Christian Kautz

Christian Kautz

23/11/1913 - 4/7/1948

<div>Son of a Swiss multi-millionaire, Christian Kautz was born in Brussels, Belgium and educated at Cambridge University, England. He started racing in 1936 and in April of that year he drove a Maserati 4CM in the Coupe de Prince Rainier, finishing 4th. In June drove a works entered BMW 328 in the sports car Grand Prix de l'ACF at Montlhéry sharing the driving with Fritz Roth. They retired. He then took the Maserati to England for the Grand Prix at Donington in October but retired with engine problems at half distance.

He joined the Mercedes-Benz Junior team in 1937, making his debut for the team at the Eifelrennen with a new experimental suction carburetor supercharger system fitted to his Mercedes-Benz W125. He finished ninth. At the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps in July only eight cars made the start. Kautz finished fourth after having a couple of off track excursions. Next up was the German Grand Prix late in July. In the race Kautz was following 'Titch' von Delius when he crashed trying to pass Seaman's Mercedes W125 on the Antoniusbuche, but his car touched the hedge and hit the Mercedes at 250 km/h. Seaman crashed into a kilometer post, sustaining cuts to his face and braking his nose. Von Delius went through a hedge and over a field before coming to rest on the main road outside the circuit, his leg broken. Kautz went off the track but returned in 7th place, finally crossing the line in sixth. Sadly Von Delius died the next day in hospital due to complications from his injuries.
The Monaco Grand Prix was a week later. In practice on the Saturday, Kautz crashed the Mercedes in the Casino Curve. Things went better in the race and he had moved up to fourth by lap 10 and, when Rosemeyer went into the sandbags at the Gasometer Hairpin, he inherited third, which he held to the finish, two laps down on Manfred von Brauchitsch and Caracciola. After an uneventful sixth in the Swiss Grand Prix at Bremgarten, he retired from the Italian Grand Prix having qualified a disappointing 14th. He travelled to Donington for the Grand Prix in October as a reserve driver and though he practiced he didn't get to race. his results through the year were good enough for him to take 3rd in the AIACR European Drivers Championship.
Switching to Auto Union in 1938, he entered the French Grand Prix at Reims-Gueux in July. Auto Union entered two new streamliners however both Müller and Hasse crashed. Auto Union withdrew but were persuaded to race two rebuilt 1937 cars with 3 litre engines with Kautz stepping in to replace the injured Müller. In the race Kautz hit a kerb and retired with a broken rear axle. He sat out the German Grand Prix and the Coppa Acerbo as a reserve driver. He then failed to finish the Swiss Grand Prix due to fuel feed problems, the Italian Grand Prix when he crashed on the first lap and the Donington Grand Prix where, after spinning off twice on the third lap, the car was too badly damaged to continue.
In 1939 he entered 3 Alfa Romeo Tipo 308s on behalf of the factory as the Italian teams and drivers were boycotting the French Grand Prix due to the position the French took during the Spanish Civil War (Who said politics were new to professional sport!) as they had apparently allowing large shipments of arms through to the Republicans. The three cars were for himself, Luigi Chinetti and Yves Matra. However in the end he decided not to drive, Chinetti came 8th and Matra returned on lap 17.
With the onset of WWII Christian moved to the USA and joined Lockheed as a test pilot.
With hostilities over he returned to racing in 1946 entering a Maserati 4CL in the Gran Premio del Valentino in September. In 1947 he raced the 4CL in the Grand Prix de Belgique at Spa-Francorchamps in June, failing to finish. He then won the Grand Prix de Reims at Reims-Gueux in July.
He died at just 34 years of age in a fatal accident in the 1948 Swiss Grand Prix in Bremgarten when he crashed his Maserati on the inside of the Eymatt Turn. the corner was later renamed Tenni Turn in honor of Omobono Tenni who had been killed in a practice accident only three days prior to Christian's crash.

Leave a comment