“For a short time we were in paradise”
Part two of the big Charly Lamm interview. He opens up about BMW’s DTM comeback and the formula of success of a good team principal.
In 2012, BMW make their DTM comeback to once again win the title with Schnitzer right away.
DTM is the touring-car series. From 2000, the series developed consistently. The 4-litre V8 racers were touring cars on the highest level. And we were offered the opportunity to get involved as one of three BMW works teams. It was a completely different world. The cars were equipped with carbon-fibre brakes and the aero package massively contributed the performance of the car. BMW did a great job. They established a project group and from 2011 they prepared for the comeback at an incredible speed. The tests already demonstrated that BMW was able to match the pace. Thanks to his DTM years with Mercedes, Bruno knew everything in DTM. That proved to be really helpful. The first race went wrong as we were involved in accidents with Ralf Schumacher but in the second race, at the Lausitzring, Bruno already made it to the top step. This success represented a massive boost for the entire season. In the final race, pole sitter Gary Paffett had wheel spin at the start and Augusto let Bruno pass in turn one. Bruno was able to open a small gap on the rest on the field and in the end he defeated Paffett in an epic battle. He travelled to Hockenheim with a three-point gap to Paffett, won the final round and scored eight points more than his championship rival to clinch the title. BMW also won the manufacturers’ and team titles – and for a short time we were in paradise.
In the penultimate race meeting, at Valencia, you had to put your foot down.
At season half-time it looked as if Gary Paffett was going to make a clean sweep. Then, however, we were able to reduce his lead by a few points. Bruno was sitting in the car and was penalised for a jump start. He was so far in the tunnel that he said to himself: “This isn’t possible. I will contest the race and then we can discuss the issue.” But he forgot at this point in time that the sporting regulations are absolutely clear: you will be disqualified if you ignore the message from the race stewards. Valentino, the engineer, tried hard but couldn’t convince him and on the last of the three laps allowed for coming in in such a situation I said to him: ‘Bruno, this is Charly. You have to pit. Now!’ Otherwise we would have been in the vale of tears. Later, he battled his way back up to sixth position, thus closing our gap to Paffett to just three points. The season finale at Hockenheim turned out to be our race – it was our day. I also am asking myself why we always do it in our debut season. The fact that we won the title in 2012 with this fantastic driving machine, the M3, and Bruno Spengler was a very special success.
Despite data analysis and simulators: Have the drivers always been in the centre of your attention?
I grew up in a time when you didn’t even know how to spell data analysis. In those days, you had completely other criteria for preparing the car. It’s a team sport. Atmosphere and connectivity as well as taking yourself and the car beyond the limit for the drivers are the factors that are vital for me. I want to know how a driver does tick. I want to get through to him emotionally. He is sitting all alone in his car, with HANS, the helmet and the safety harness. And up to this moment I want him to feel comfortable. The driver is our hero, we make the impossible possible for him. All these things have been my guidelines. You have to live and feel it. I am convinced that this can be a competition factor.
What do you regard as the formula of success of a good team principal?
That’s an individual matter. How does a boss interact with his team? In our team this always was straightforward. I wanted every single team-member to get emotionally involved with the project. The keywords are idealism and passion. All these things aren’t rational factors but an item that was really important to me. And the hardware also is a part of it. It’s important that you create an environment that allows people to do a perfect job. In an ideal world that is a powerful team then.
Last but not least: what will be Charly Lamm’s future role in motor racing?
to have missed a single hour. But I’ve got the feeling that it would be good if I would also get into the life that exists beyond the motor sport and settle down a little bit. Nonetheless, I certainly will never be able to completely get away from motor racing.