Niki Lauda Q&A

Niki Lauda made his first visit to a DTM race in last weekend's round at the A1-Ring in his native Austria. The three-time Formula One champion was clearly impressed by what he saw, and relished the chance to drive Bernd Schneider's Mercedes CLK racer in the DTM "taxi ride" sessions. His job was to give a few locals the chance of a couple of laps riding in the passenger seat, but there was no doubt he enjoyed himself. Richard Asher spoke to Lauda about his cockpit experience and his impressions of the DTM

Niki Lauda Q&A



"I had fun. Obviously it was great to be here and driving in front of my home crowd. The last time I drove on this circuit was in 1985 I guess, with McLaren. The track has changed, but it's good.



I didn't expect the DTM car to be so well-balanced and easy to drive. It handles like a proper racing car. It's not twitchy or aggressive at all."



"I was able to corner a little bit faster as I got used to the track, but the braking is the hard thing to get used to. That would take quite a lot of practice"



"I don't really remember or know all the people they put next to me in the car. But it was quite good to be able to drive Frau Götschel- she's a skier whom I admire a lot. That was quite fun."



"The last time I was in any sort of saloon car was 8 years ago at Hockenheim. It was an older-generation Mercedes DTM car."



"You know, Austria is the worst place for racing. Nobody lives round here [Spielberg]at all, this place is empty. But people have taken the trouble to drive a long way. I am just so impressed by the number of people who have come. You can tell they must be getting good value for their money. Here in DTM you have a really good support package with Euroseries F3, the BMW series, Porsches and Lupos. People can run around the paddock a little bit. They can pay 5 Euros and buy tyres for a souvenir. There are more attractions. The cars get paraded in front of the fans before the race, and the drivers get their own parade cars so the crowd can see them. In F1 they get put on a truck that is far too big, and then they just stand and talk to each other, ignoring the spectators."



"I don't know why F1 has developed in such an aggressive way. The drivers complain if there are fans in the paddock- but what do the drivers do all day? They sit in the garage and the motorhome. So are they really scared about the 10-yard walk between motorhome and garage? The fans are just people- human beings like the drivers. They are not dangerous. I had to sign f****** autographs when I was a driver. It's actually OK."



"Today's DTM racing was close and unpredictable. It was very enjoyable to watch. The racing in F1 is great this year but the attendances are still low. Why? Because people don't want to pay so much money for nothing. In F1 people watch a race, go home and then say, "What did I pay all that money for?" There are no other attractions. What are F1 fans supposed to do at 9am on race day this season? There isn't even a warmup. Times are changing, and F1 must catch up or it will lose out. I think Bernie Ecclestone knows he has made mistakes with the running of some things in F1, about treating the people who pay for the sport properly. I am sure he's going to fix it."


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