“It was a shock for me”
Jamie Green has been racing in DTM for 14 years, now. In 11 seasons the Briton finished seventh or better and won 16 of his 177 races. In the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 the Audi driver finished, second, third and third in the drivers’ championship. Switch over to 2018: the old hand didn’t stand a chance, had to settle for racing at the very end of the field and finished last and 18th in the championship. DTM.com asked Green what went wrong. In our Q&A he talked about the reasons and his thoughts following a DTM season to forget.
If you should describe your 2018 season in short words, what would you say?
This quite obviously was the worst DTM season in my career. I finished last and it was the first time I did so.
From 2015 to 2017 you finished second, third and third in the drivers’ championship. And you won a total of 16 races. What happened this year?
The regulations were altered a lot, compared to 2017. Consequently, all the Audis struggled in the early stages of the season. We had major problems in the first three or four race meetings. And my engineer and I in particular didn’t make major progress regarding the setup of the car as we couldn’t go testing. We never got the things really sorted out. Only in the closing stages things got better – but then, the season was over. Some of our guys got it right, particularly René. But the other Audi drivers also had to cope with ups and downs. And the other manufacturers lacked consistency as well.
But this can’t be the full truth. After all you finished last. From your point of view: what were the reasons for you poor achievements?
From a certain point in time, it isn’t important for Audi to get me from 18th to 10th place in the championship. Now they focus on something else. The goal was to support René in his championship campaign. In the closing stages of the season I was at the very end of their priority list. Particularly on the final race weekend, at Hockenheim, I tried to help René in the qualifying session by providing him slipstream. If your results are poor you become a supporting team player, in the closing stages of the season – what of course doesn’t offer you the opportunity to improve your own championship position. And as I said: my engineer and I didn’t find a suiting setup and failed to properly adapt to the car.
Had you doubts regarding your driving skills, sometime this season?
A well-known car magazine called you the disappointment of the 2018 DTM season. A comment?
Not really. If you do a good job the media call you a superstar. And if you do a poor job, the opposite is the case. It goes without saying that I’m not happy. Following the season finale at Hockenheim I had a break and time to think about the year. I now begin to physically prepare for the 2019 season. I have to learn my lessons from the poor season and will once again try to give my very best, next year.
What can you learn from this year?
What I shouldn’t do. As a sportsman, such an experience helps you keeping your feet on the ground. That’s important. I’m no arrogant person. If you celebrate major successes you mustn’t get high-spirited. In the past 14 years I very often was among the front runners. For some people, such a drop in performance is shocking. I also was shocked. We didn’t squeeze the maximum out of the car. I have to try to be more flexible regarding my style of driving, in the future, and respond faster if the car isn’t in the window.
Was the thrilling three-way battle with Mike Rockenfeller and Timo Glock at Brands Hatch you season highlight?
No, actually not. When we talk about this moment: I tried to pass Timo on the left, before entering the straight. In the end, ‘Rocky’ passed both of us, if I’m not mistaken. The manoeuvre didn’t go really well for me. But it definitely was a memorable race situation and it’s great that I was involved in it. Three cars racing side by side up a straight. Brands Hatch is a flat-out circuit. A really great racetrack.
So, what was your season highlight?
As I see it the Sunday race at the Lausitzring. At the start into the Saturday round, Nico Müller didn’t get going and I crashed into the rear of his Audi without braking. The accident resulted in massive body damage and the mechanics had to work throughout the evening. In addition, René’s car was destroyed in the same race. A lot of work for the guys indeed. On Sunday I was 16th on the grid and finished sixth. I pitted for fresh tyres as early as on lap one. A courageous decision. Nonetheless, I passed Philipp Eng on my really old tyres in turn one of the final lap on the outside. A great race following a difficult weekend.
What’s the comment of Briton Jamie Green on Aston Martin joining the series?
That’s good, very positive. I have been racing in DTM for a long time and still am thrilled by the series. And for a certain period of time, it wasn’t sure if and how DTM would be continued. And all those involved worried about the future. Aston Martin’s decision to join the series was incredibly important. It feels somewhat as if DTM was reborn by this move. The retirement of Mercedes was a wake-up call for everybody. Gerhard Berger and the promoters worked hard and their effort was necessary to refresh everything and once again turn the races into thrilling and interesting events. DTM moved in the right direction. I hope that the series will keep on growing – what definitely is possible, now.
What do you think about the ‘CLASS-1’ regulations? What’s your opinion on the more powerful two-litre turbo engines?
It was a necessary step. We couldn’t keep on racing with the V8 engines forever. We have done so for a long time but now it was time for something more modern. And I appreciate the increased horsepower of the engines. With DRS, the top speed at the end of the straights could exceed 300kph. That’s very cool. Generally, having the ‘CLASS 1’ regulations makes a lot of sense as they allow you to compete with one car in several series. That’s efficient. The connection with SUPER GT is logical. I hope that both series will benefit from the joint regulations, in the future.
Final question: Are you going to contest the 2019 DTM season?
We will have to wait for Audi’s nomination. I am confident, motivated and ready.