How important is the support of your family and friends during this intensive time?
It helps me a lot. Not only during all of the race weekends, but in general. At the end of the day, I’m just a normal guy who enjoys normal things in life. For example, to have lunch at my favorite restaurant without thinking too much about work all the time. It doesn’t matter if with my family, my friends or with my girlfriend. It is always nice to have them around.
Your girlfriend also works for Abt Sportsline. Does it make you feel less homesick?
I really enjoy also having her close around me at the race tracks, of course, but even though we work for the same team at the same events, we don’t see each other a lot. She has her work, I have mine, and we both focus on our own jobs at the track. It is a completely different environment. In general, I’m really happy with how we are managing our professional and private lives.
During your Facebook Live interview on Audi Sport last Saturday, you talked about charity. What is your motivation to get involved socially?
I am always happy to help when I can, especially when it comes to children. I would also like to have a family one day. The most important thing for parents is to see their children growing up with joy. I’m lucky enough to be able to live the life that I’ve always dreamed of. At the same time, I also know that others are not so lucky. It makes you realize there are things more important in life than racing.
During the interview, you also introduced your loyal travel companion. What’s the story behind it?
A few years ago, the son of a friend of mine fell seriously ill. I tried to help and got involved with the charity called “Groot Hart”, which means “big heart,” for the first time. I knew that he was a racing fan. So, I invited him for a ride at Zandvoort, sitting next to me in a Radical SR3. I just tried to give him a good time. Unfortunately, he passed away six months later. Since then, I’ve always taken the teddy bear that he gave me with me to the race weekends.
Looking back on the first of two race weekends at the Lausitzring, how do you reflect on the battles with your Audi DTM teammate René Rast during Sunday’s race?
It was hard racing, no question about it. I think it could have turned out easier for both of us. But obviously, we didn’t come up with a common game plan beforehand. I thought that he would let me by again when I was quicker. After the race, the schedule was so tight that we have not had the chance to speak yet. But, maybe, we will find the time before the next race.
This coming weekend, the DTM will race at the longer Lausitzring track layout. How is it different from the sprint circuit?
In terms of the set-up, both tracks are kind of similar. But, we have to improve our long runs, as I mentioned before. In general, the Lausitzring is not my favorite circuit, because it is a low grip track and doesn’t give me a lot of feedback about what is happening to the car. I like the longer layout more, because it offers more overtaking opportunities with two more straights. And turn six is luckily different. On the sprint circuit it is quite bumpy there – which doesn’t suit my driving style very well. Now, with the longer straight after turn five, there is a good overtaking opportunity there. We will also have fewer laps and because of that tire degradation is going to be a bit less. Basically, you are going through fewer corners during the race and the tires have a bit more time to cool down on the straights – if the weather plays along.
What is your goal for the races?
I was quite surprised that we put the car on pole for both races last weekend. Our goal is to be competitive again and to keep on scoring championship points. We already had the chance to win and I think those opportunities will come again throughout the season. Hopefully already next weekend.