Ogier: “I can really only surprise - even myself"
The DTM entry list for the Spielberg weekend features a prominent name: five-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier will meet the challenge DTM at the wheel of a Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM. In our Q&A, the Frenchman explained what made him contest the Austrian DTM meeting and the goal he set himself for the Spielberg meeting.
Who had the idea that you should race at Spielberg?
To be honest, I don’t exactly know as I’m good friends with several people involved in DTM. Anyhow, Mercedes asked me at the beginning of the summer if I was interested. And it goes without saying that I was! DTM is a highly professional top-class series. It will be a real challenge to race against the 18 very competitive DTM regulars.
Are you following DTM?
Yes – and I do so keenly. My wife, Andrea Kaiser, has been DTM presenter for the series’ German TV partner Sat.1 since the beginning of the 2018 season. Furthermore, Toto Wolff is a good friend of mine. Like me he is living in Kitzbühel. Our children – and the son of Gerhard Berger, too – all are between one and two years old. That unites.
Why do you contest just the Spielberg meeting?
Not – as everybody seems to believe – because of my sponsor. First of all it was about finding a free weekend. And about finding a weekend that isn’t followed by a WRC round. After all, I’m in the thick of the battle for the World Rally Championship title. That would be difficult as it wouldn’t allow me to focus on the coming rally before the respective Monday.
What is your impression of DTM?
DTM is really hard work. The cars are sensationally competitive, the cornering speeds are impressive. And in addition, the gaps are tiny – more often than not, the differences between the lap times of all the cars on the DTM grid amounts to just a few tenths of a second. I don’t know another championship where the racing is similarly close and where even the slightest mistake costs you so many positions.
There are colleagues that think that you will deliver in fine style. They also say that the Red Bull Ring is the ideal venue for guest drivers.
Let’s wait and see. The circuit definitely isn’t as easy as the layout might make you believe. Far from it. Many of the corners have their perils and you have to be very precise while cornering them. On the other hand I know the circuit good and that’s an advantage. Last year I could test an F1 car at Spielberg and in 2014 I contested the Porsche Supercup, there.
In that year, Philipp Eng – like Lucas Auer one of the two Austrians on this year’s DTM grid – was your team-mate ...
Of course I’m following their performances exactly. Both already delivered in great style in races and are really fast.
Isn’t your rally team, M-Sport, slightly unhappy about your outing in DTM while the battle for the WRC title is in full swing?
No, they are very open-minded regarding the topic. You always can learn something if you try something new. I think I will get the one or the other input that also will be worth thinking about in the World Rally Championship
Many DTM drivers believe that you will do really well. And even more so as you are said to have impressed in the Mercedes tests at Vallelunga...
Well, afterwards Alex Zanardi finished fifth at Misano, thus pushing the bar to a virtually unreachable level. First of all, it will be a mental readjustment for me. I am accustomed to usually start into an event as one of the favourites. Now, however, everything but the last place actually would be a surprise. As ambitious person who always wants to be the best I will have to opt for another approach. Actually, I only can surprise – even myself. “I actually only can surprise – even myself”