Spielberg analysis: a topic for Mathias Lauda
Mathias Lauda knows DTM well. From 2006 to 2009, the 36-year old contested a total of 41 races for Mercedes for the teams as Mücke and Persson driver. Since 2015, the son of three-time F1 World Champion has been racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship, WEC, in an Aston Martin Vantage GTE. During the Spielberg weekend, the Austrian followed the race action as expert for Servus TV. DTM.com talked with Lauda to find out how he assessed the Spielberg weekend.
Could you please describe your Spielberg weekend?
“It was great to be back in DTM. My last DTM weekend so far was back in 2009 when I still was racing in the series. Quite a long time, isn’t it? But I could see a lot of old friends and team mates. The race on Sunday was more exciting than the Saturday round. But that’s normal. The drivers always take more risks on Sunday. On Saturday everybody tries to score points but on Sunday, they really go for it. I was really delighted with witnessing DTM racing in Austria. Everything was very positive.”
What did change in DTM since your last DTM weekend in 2009?
“To be honest not too much. There is a third manufacturer and this wasn’t the case in my DTM days. 50 percent of the drivers still are the same. The lap times are better, but all in all it’s still as I remember it from the past.”
Nonetheless, there have been quite a number of changes and innovations…
From my point of view it’s positive that the drivers now have to start on cold tyres. It’s more challenging for them. Due to this new approach, the first lap is extremely difficult for them. This results in great battles and the drivers have to truly deliver right sway. They mustn’t make mistakes but at the same time, they also have to be really fast right from the start. Doing so certainly is anything but easy. I also like that the performance weights have been abolished. In a championship for works teams and profession racing drivers, such as DTM, the best car driven by the best driver should win. In the past, with the performance weights, seeing through the true competitiveness was anything but easy.”
Do you still have close bonds to certain DTM drivers?
“Bruno Spengler and I are good friends. It’s always nice to meet him. And we even jointly contested a race, this year: the Daytona 24h Race. Our contact still is close. And I also still have close contact to Maro Engel. He was my Mücke team-mate in the past. Furthermore, I also know Jamie Green well – from my days as Mercedes driver.”
Apropos Jamie Green, he definitely was the unlucky fellow of the weekend…
“Yes, this really was extremely tough. I met him for a moment after the race and told him that I was really sorry for him. The poor guy is one of the drivers who always had good chances of winning the title, in the early stages of the season. Year by year it looked as if he could do it. It’s bitter that he now had slightly less points on his tally than Ekström and that Audi decided to put their money on one of them and made them change their positions. That’s DTM and this kind of decisions can be witnessed again and again. The manufacturers’ first priority always is the title and only then they care about the drivers. And you have to understand this approach. Jamie is well aware of this fact. Therefore, scoring as many points as possible in the first half of the season is extremely important, in DTM.”
Your compatriot Lucas Auer certainly also expected to secure better results, in his home races…
“All in all, his performance was really good. His season was outstanding and he can be proud of it. Meanwhile, he wasn’t responsible for the fact that things didn’t run that well for Mercedes-AMG, at the Red Bull Ring. The Spielberg weekend was dominated by Audi. The racing in DTM is extremely close. In the Sunday qualifying session they had problems. If you have to start from further behind you get into the thick of it and the risks of being forced into early retirement due to an accident are high.”
Do you think that the battle for the title is over and that Ekström already is the new DTM Champion?
“I think that Audi already have prevailed in the battle for the title. Nobody will be able to beat them. A lot of things had to go wrong to prevent them from succeeding. Normally, Mattias is the favourite – after all he also is backed by his manufacturer. None the less, I hope that Audi will let René, Mattias and Jamie race without any team order. The qualifying sessions will be particularly crucial. Should Mattias secure grid positions at the front end of the grid, stealing the title will be very difficult for his rivals. But should René make it to the pole, with Mattias being hampered by traffic in the qualifying session or just failing to set a fast qualifying lap, the tables can be turned quickly. I think that the races at Hockenheim will be extremely thrilling and we will witness a great season finale.”