Hans-Jurgen Abt Q&A

The Mercedes DTM steamroller couldn't flatten the tiny-by-comparison, privately-run Abt Sportsline Audi squad at the Nurburgring. Instead, the mouse roared, and its resident tin-top superstar Laurent Aiello scored Audi's first DTM pole since Frank Biela at Avus in 1992. Amidst the celebrations in the garage after qualifying, Charles Bradley caught up with team boss Hans-Jurgen Abt to find out why the minnows have transformed into sharks

Hans-Jurgen Abt Q&A



"No, not really. OK, you make a race car to win poles and races, but after all the problems we had last year and over the winter, with all the changes we've had to build into the new cars, then you never know what to expect. But we saw at Hockenheim that the car was good and we were building momentum. I have to say the drivers have been fantastic, the way they have worked together, which has been important in how we've improved the car in such a short time."



"The [lack of] downforce was always the big problem for us. We put all three basic cars in the wind tunnel and compared them. Now we have almost the same conditions to build our cars along with Mercedes and Opel, and you can see the competition between us is very, very close and hard. If you lose three tenths, you lose six or seven places on the grid."



"I saw him last year in Formula 3, and he's only ever spent one year in each category he's contested. He was not the fastest in F3, but he was quick. He was team mate to [German champion Giorgio] Pantano, and by the end of the season he was nearly as fast as him. He learns quickly, too. When Laurent says 'do this' or 'do that', he does it. He doesn't go around boasting 'I'm the best' or anything, he's quiet and he's cool. I think he's got the chance to be a good race driver in a very short time. People said 'why have you taken two young drivers, why have you not got more names?' But I like to develop young drivers. We did this with Ralf Schumacher and we helped him improve, and that's the philosophy of Abt. We give youth a chance, and Martin knows this is his big chance."



"Well, I think Laurent knows how to play this touring car game well, and I think everyone in England knows this too after what he did there in 1999. He has won more championships than Schneider, and Bernd has always stuck with Mercedes. Laurent has proved he can win anywhere in any car. But if Schneider, Laurent, Christian [Abt], Uwe Alzen and Marcel Fassler had exactly the same car then you'd see a big fight! Another thing is that Laurent likes the Nurburging; he's quick here. He's three or four tenths quicker than the other drivers - minimum. He'll always win races, he's not here just for fun. Last year was not so good for him, but he stuck with us and wants to show, just like us, that when we are playing by the same rules we can win the game."

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Saturday practice: Aiello top; Mercs play cool

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