Christian Werner was a loyal member of the Mercedes racing department during the 1920s who proved more than adept when called on to drive. He only ever raced for the Stuttgart marque and the length of his career was determined by decisions made in the company’s board room.
Early career with Mercedes
He joined Mercedes in December 1911 as an engineer and test driver. When the company re-entered motor racing in the early 1920s, Werner was promoted to race driver – finishing eighth on his debut in the 1922 Targa Florio.
Mercedes entered the 1923 Indianapolis 500 and Werner ran third at half distance. However, he was later delayed and finished 11th and last. Werner’s greatest race was the 1924 Targa Florio which his red Mercedes PP won when Antonio Ascari’s engine broke close to the finish.
German Grand Prix winner
Werner won the very first race held on the Nürburgring when it opened in 1926 and he raced for the newly amalgamated Mercedes-Benz in the 1927 and 1928 German Grands Prix. He led the 1927 race until a puncture on the penultimate lap dropped him to second at the finish behind team-mate Otto Merz.
The team dominated again in 1928 but its drivers suffered in the heat. Despite injuring his shoulder and giving up his car, Werner replaced an exhausted Rudolf Caracciola and set off behind Merz. In a poetic twist, the leader’s tyre deflated at Breidscheid and Werner was through to victory.
He raced in the Mille Miglia and at Le Mans in 1930 but died two years later while still employed by Mercedes-Benz and aged just 40.